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Research in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism is undertaken by staff from the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Chester.  The Unit has two established research groups: Applied Sports Sciences and Sociology of PE and Sport. Taken together, these have enabled further development of the key areas of physical sciences (comprising physiology, biomechanics, psychology, and performance analysis) and social sciences (comprising sociology and PE).

The University’s targeted research funding has been bolstered by external funders including: British Athletics, British Cycling, and other sporting organisations. 

13 staff were identified as having significant responsibility for research in REF2021, leading to a requirement for 32 outputs to be submitted.

Research outputs submitted to REF2021 are included in the Sport and Exercise Sciences Collection of ChesterRep, the University of Chester’s online research repository.

The impact of research in this unit was exemplified through the following case studies:

Development and roll-out of a game-wide testing battery for rugby league players: Research undertaken within this unit to assess the physical characteristics of rugby league players led to the first standardized physical testing battery for this group. This testing battery was adopted UK-wide by the Rugby Football League, engaging with 36 clubs that amassed to a total of 1,236 players at non-professional (7 clubs; 124 players), women (2 clubs, 73 players), scholarship (U16s; 395 players), academy (U19s; 479 players) and senior (165 players) standards. In developing the most comprehensive evaluation of physical characteristics for youth, academy and senior players in the UK, the main impact has been the standardization of monitoring procedures with comparative data between all UK clubs. The RFL, as a key beneficiary of this research, has been able to standardize between clubs and standards with procedures and a large database that enables between-club comparisons in player characteristics. Coaches have also benefitted with access to an evidence-based assessment protocol to appraise training and player development practices, both within and between playing groups. Finally, players have benefitted from the research with reliable and valid assessments of their physical qualities that have enabled better informed interventions to improve their training, performance and development.

Improving professional golfers’ mental health and wellbeing: Research has been used by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the main professional golf tour in Europe, to take steps in developing various mental health and wellbeing programmes that support professional golfers.  Specifically, the research has:

  • Equipped their medical staff with the skills to identify and support athletes who are experiencing the negative effects of pressures associated with being away ‘on tour’. Based on the research, staff are now better able to tailor their support and advice appropriately during consultations.
  • Alerted both the CMO and CEO of the issues facing professional golfers, prompting them to instigate the development and roll-out of a mental health support hotline, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. This service offers confidential counselling for players whenever they might require it.
  • Equipped staff working across various roles (such as tournament administrators, operational staff, and rules officials) with the knowledge to recognise and deal with mental health and wellbeing issues that arise during their work. The research underpinned the content of a workshop delivered to more than 100 staff attending online mental health awareness workshops during 2020. 
  • Encouraged several national newspapers and golf-specific publications to cover the issues of mental health in professional golfers, thus raising awareness.
  • Had direct impact of improving professional golfers’ mental health and wellbeing, across various tiers of the Tour, by enabling an understanding of how players can make sense of the realities of their lives.   

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