Mike Goss (WIPS Research Assistant), Prof. David Shearer (WIPS Psychology lead) and Louise Jones (SWI Psychology Practitioner)
All weightlifters, their coaches and their managers are likely to experience stress in the lead up to and during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Providing these personnel with individualised stress management techniques will help to promote their health and wellbeing and reduce the likelihood of negative impacts from excessive stress such as interpersonal disputes and sub-optimal performance behaviours.
Impact for Sport Wales:
Supporting Gold Coast performances:
This project had a positive impact on performances at the Gold Coast 2018 Games. Gareth Evans won Wales’ first gold, he used his breathing technique to enhance recovery during pre-competition training and to aid post competition sleep. At least three of the team performed personal-best lifts at the Games, using their breathing paces to manage pre- competition stress and pre-lift arousal.
Supporting health and wellbeing:
This project provided the entire team with an on-demand stress reduction tool, and most used it to manage the effects from stressors such as being away from home, disagreements, and poor sleep.
Prof Jon Oliver (WIPS Strength and conditioning research lead), Dr. Camilla Knight (WIPS Youth Sport Research Lead), Prof. Nicola Phillips (WIPS Medical and Physiotherapy lead), and Owen Lewis (Sport Wales Institute)
Sport Wales practitioners in strength and conditioning and physiotherapy identified that athletes were entering into the high-performance system with poor movement competency and a tendency to break down easily. Available data from the general population of secondary school children in Wales and research in elite youth sport in Wales also supported the suggestion that Welsh children had low levels of athletic movement competency.
Owen Lewis, Head of Elite Performance Pathways at Sport Wales, proposed the idea to provide introductory strength and conditioning to secondary school children, to develop movement competency while the neuromuscular system is still maturing. This would have benefits for the general population but also help in the development of those youth following performance pathways, allowing them to undertake more advanced training and making them more robust to resist injury.
Impact for Sport Wales
The project will provide wide ranging benefits to both the general population and to those youth that follow a performance pathway. Ensuring youth athletes have developed strength and can move well will better equip them to cope with the demands of training and competition.
It will help protect athletes from injury and enable them to undertake more advanced training as they progress through performance pathways.
It will also help ensure young athletes develop the variety of physical skills that would better allow them to transfer their talent across different sports.
The full benefits of the project will take time to realise, but if successful the project will help contribute to the development of a bigger and better equipped pool of talent to be selected into elite sport
Prof. Dave Shearer (WIPS Sport psychology lead), Dr. Camilla Knight (WIPS Youth Sport lead), and Catherine Shearer (SWI Psychology Practitioner)
In 2016, Swim Wales and the squad sport psychologist (Cath Shearer) contacted WIPS, suggesting that swimmers were often susceptible to negative psychological effects during the taper period, and that this had resulted in poor performances at major international competitions. The taper most commonly requires athletes to reduce their training volume, while maintaining training intensity.
During this period, there are anecdotal reports of the ‘Taper Blues’, and the period is filled with psychological uncertainty. For example, the Swim Wales support team suggested that athletes commonly question whether the exact taper strategy deployed by their coaching team is ‘working’, and become anxious both during the taper itself, and then during the final lead-in to their races. Swim Wales wanted to better understand the perception of swimmers and coaches during this taper period, with a view to testing and implementing strategies that could facilitate a more productive approach to taper.
Impact for Sport Wales
Considerable effort is made by coaches and other practitioners to design training programmes which optimally prepare swimmers for competition. Sport Wales practitioners suggest that all this ‘good training’ can be undone during the taper and immediately before the race by psychological factors that impinge on performance.
Our aim is to provide Swim Wales with simple practical guides that educate coaches and swimmers of the best way to approach taper and provide interventions that will counteract some of the negative affect experienced by athletes. Other elite Welsh athletes who compete in endurance-based events and complete tapers during their pre-competition phase will benefit from this research.
Furthermore, by testing the use of specific emotion-focused strategies as a more general pre-competition strategy, the impact of this programme of research could extend across the entire Sport Wales portfolio of priority sports.
Dr. Anthony Blanchfield (WIPS Performance physiology lead), Prof. Liam Kilduff (WIPS lead), Charlie Finn (Research Assistant, WIPS), Spencer Fuge (SWI Strength & Conditioning Practitioner), Dr Ross Nicholas (Swim Wales Performance Director)
The underwater kick phase is a key determinant of successful performance in swimming, Swim Wales identified this phase as an area where significant gains in performance could be harnessed if this area was better understood and key determinants developed through focused strategies. The initial aim for this project was to develop the underwater kick ability of selected athletes via strength and conditioning and technical drills.
Both athletes qualified for the Commonwealth games and set personal bests. Swim Wales now have a deterministic model for the underwater kick phase and a number of focused interventions that can be utilised to improve this component of swim performance for future individual profiling.
Dr. Thomas Love (WIPS Nutrition Lead), Dr. Camilla Knight (WIPS Youth Sport Lead), Dr. Joy Bringer (SWI Psychology Practitioner and WIPS lead for Sport Wales)
Injury is one of the greatest risks to athlete health. The financial burden of injury negative long-term health implications, and more immediate negative impact on performance are just some of the negative consequences of injury. As a result, injury prevention is critical. However, the success of injury prevention interventions is limited by various factors, including poor adherence a lack of sport- specific programming, and reliance upon exercise-based strategies despite the potential benefits of integrating non-exercise based (e.g., nutritional and psychological strategies). The objective of this study was to understand the injury prevention strategies in a wide range of Olympic sports and identify barriers to implementation. This project received funding from the International Olympic Committee.
Impact for Sport Wales:
A number of feedback sessions were delivered to practitioners across disciplines, with a series of recommendations provided regarding issues such as how to overcome barriers to implementing injury prevention strategies and how to enhance facilitators. Further, information pertaining to the dissemination of information and the sources of information athletes use were provided. The feedback resulted in Sport Wales engaging in further application for funding to examine psychological injury prevention strategies, as well as an increase in multidisciplinary approaches to injury prevention within the institute.
Dr. Stuart Beattie (WIPs Coaching Science Lead),Dr. Sam Oliver, (WIPS Environmental Physiology Lead), Dr. Anthony Blanchfield (WIPS Physiology Lead), and Dr. Joy Bringer (SWI Psychology Practitioner and WIPS lead for Sport Wales)
£5,000 Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Bangor University Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) award to complete five collaborative knowledge transfer workshops between May and November 2017 by staff at the School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences at Bangor University. Five seminars were delivered under the four planned themes of Performing with anxiety, Performing in the Heat, Mental Toughness, and Talent Development. Overall, there were more than 60 attendees, from Sport Wales, Team Wales, Sport National Governing Bodies, and Welsh Government. The information from the workshops was shared to all sports via Dartfish.
Impact for Sport Wales:
The IAA award helped to facilitate the knowledge transfer to Sport Wales staff.
For example, Rob Condliffe used the hot bath strategy with athletes, coaches and
team managers that attended the Youth Commonwealth Games in Bahamas in July 2017 and to help prepare medal winner Bethan Davies for Commonwealth Games in Australia. The press release detailing this is: www.bangor.ac.uk/news/latest/hot-baths-help- to-prepare-team-wales-for-the-heat-of-the- australian-commonwealth-games-36314