Sport and exercise research centre

Our aim is to conduct research that leads to real-world outcomes for everyone, from professional athletes and coaches to those undertaking exercise to maintain health or overcome specific health conditions.

Improving athletic performance

For professional athletes, our research targets training, recovery and competition factors that support peak performance. Our coaching and education science staff examine the important processes that support skills development, personal growth, enjoyment and athletic excellence.

Driving forward exercise and wellbeing

For those committed to pursuing active and health lifestyles, our research experts provide insight into the achievement and maintenance of our best possible selves, including physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing, as well as recovery from injury and illness.

Using sport and exercise to improve public health

Our research teams also devise and investigate imaginative solutions to alleviate complex health conditions, for example drumming for people with autism, or using psychology strategies most often associated with professional sports people to help those with physical or mental injuries.

With extensive facilities and a dynamic academic research team spanning a range of specialisms, we’re ideally placed to support you as a research student or partner.

Recent research projects

Brain plasticity and autism

Our Drumming Project, led by exercise physiologist Professor Steve Draper, is helping children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to strengthen their social, sensory and physical development.

Working in partnership with the University of Chichester and King’s College London, the project is evidencing improved brain activity during physical activity in ASD children, with potential for influencing models for long-term improvements in cognition, social interaction, co-ordination, communication skills, behaviour and educational performance.

Enhancing female performance

We’re improving the science behind the training and performance of female athletes, building an evidence-base to support post-exercise fatigue, muscle-damage and recovery responses.

We're also looking at the impact of the menstrual cycle phases on these responses to exercise to help to inform the design of new training programmes to help females to reach the top of their game in their sport and training.

Staff profiles

Dr. John Parker, Research Centre Lead 

Dr John Parker has been an active researcher and applied sport psychologist for over 15 years. John’s primary research interest concerns the role mental imagery has in enhancing athletes performance and wellbeing.

John’s applied practice spans a number of sports at various competitive levels and regularly presents his work at national and international conferences.

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Dr. John Fernandes, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Strength and Conditioning

Dr. Fernandez' research focuses on improving the evidence base behind athletic training, specifically velocity-based training in female and older athlete fatigue and recovery.

John collaborates with academic and industry professionals globally, presenting at conferences, including BASES and ECSS and achieving published work in Sports Medicine and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

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Professor Steve Draper, Academic Dean of Research and Knowledge Exchange

Sports and exercise physiologist Professor Steven Draper specialises in modelling athletic performance, in particular oxygen uptake kinetics.

Steven co-founded the Clem Burke Drumming Project that has been pivoltal in revealing the impact of physical activity through drumming on brain plasticity in autistic disorders. Steven has featured in national media including BBC Breakfast and Radio 4 Today and authored work in peer-reviewed publications.

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Sport facilities

We've invested £8.8 million into our sports facilities recently, including technologies that rival those found at Premier League and NFL club training centres.

Research partnerships

Join our international network of academic and industry professionals; like us, they’re dedicated to making a worthwhile contribution to our disciplines.

Research degrees/PhD study

Choose a Hartpury research degree. Be supported by leading academic and industry experts to make a positive difference to the world.

Communities of Practice

Our communities of practice connect academic and industry practice - like-minded individuals make great ideas happen, extending the value and impact of our work.