Health and welfare

Understanding and supporting the health and welfare of those who perform or operate in sport-related contexts.

We investigate how athletes’ health, development, and wellbeing can be facilitated alongside their performance enhancement.

Drawing on multiple scientific disciplines and methods, we seek to better understand the factors associated with creating healthy cultures and use this knowledge to support athletes, teams, coaches, and organisations. We also focus on welfare in sport-related contexts and the safeguarding of children and adults from harm.

If you would like to learn more about our sport performance work, collaborate on a project, or complete a research degree, please contact Professor Mark King.

Research

Research and enterprise projects include:

  • Athletes’ and coaches’ health and wellbeing
  • Training environments and cultures
  • Lifestyle and career management
  • Injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation
  • Medicine and healthcare
  • Integrity
  • Child protection
  • Clean sport.

Real-world impact

Examples of how our work has had an impact include:

  • Eating problems in athletes – Disordered eating and clinical eating disorders are more common among athletes than non-athletes. During the past decade, we have developed resources and training for sports professionals to help them successfully identify and manage them.
  • The coach-athlete relationship – Professor Sophia Jowett’s ground-breaking research into the interpersonal dynamics between coaches and athletes provides gold-standard methods for understanding and measuring the quality of the coach-athlete relationship. These methods have been adopted in research and practice internationally.
  • Faster, healthier, longer – Our biomechanics research – conducted in partnership with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) – focuses on players’ fast bowling techniques with a view to enhancing individual performance whilst reducing the likelihood of injury.
  • Stress, emotion & performance in sport – Our research is advancing understanding of the causes of stress in sport, why individuals react to stress differently and how stress effects their performance and wellbeing. Our findings are used by athletes, teams, coaches, psychologists, and organisations to help them and those they work with to better prepare for and effectively manage stress.
  • International Safeguards for Children in Sport – Research led by Dr Daniel Rhind has been fundamental to the development, implementation and evaluation of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport. The safeguards have been translated into 11 languages and endorsed by more than 125 organisations, who work with over 35 million children.
  • Using sport to help tackle serious youth violence – Our academics are collaborating with StreetGames, a national charity that helps bring sport to disadvantaged communities, to help tackle serious youth violence. The project will ultimately outline how and why community sport has a significant role to play as part of a multi-agency approach.
  • Teaching children to be active – Although physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, more than 80% of children are not active enough to benefit their health. Our research has led to changes in health-related physical education (HRPE) policy, curricula and practices worldwide as well as the expansion and enhancement of HRPE professional development.
  • The 5Cs – In line with an increasing focus on improving organisational practice around the psychological development and health of young footballers, Professor Harwood developed the 5Cs framework as a user-friendly tool to support coaches in encouraging this important learning process.
  • The application of eye tracking for concussion measurement – Our researchers are investigating how eye tracking technologies can be used to measure deficits in cognition, as part of a pitch-side concussion assessment.
  • Bioengineering the Musculoskeletal System – Our researchers, led by Prof Mark Lewis and Dr Andrew Capel, are using bioengineered tissues to develop new treatments for conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.
  • Pioneering next-generation extracellular vesicle therapeutics – Dr Owen Davies is leading research that is investigating the potential role that cell derived nanoparticles – called extracellular vesicles (EVs) – could play in further enhancing regenerative medicine.

People

If you would like to collaborate with our researchers, engage in consultancy or discuss potential PhD projects, please contact them using the information on their staff profile.

Staff in this subtheme include:

  • Dr Sam Allen – Understanding technique in sporting activities using experimental biomechanics and computer simulation.
  • Dr Jamie Barker – Exploring mental health and wellbeing in elite sport.
  • Dr Richard Blagrove – Strategies to enhance performance and maintain health in endurance athletes.
  • Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell – Exercise and bone health, particularly as regards prevention of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and stress fractures.
  • Dr Richard Ferguson – Improving human performance and health through exercise training and the use of novel interventions; with a particular interest in skeletal muscle and peripheral vascular adaptations.
  • Dr David Fletcher – The psychology of performance excellence in sport, business and other performance domains.
  • Dr Daniel Fong – Prevention and rehabilitation of sports-related ankle sprain and instability.
  • Dr Liam Heaney – The application of mass spectrometry-based techniques for biomarker measurements in sports performance, nutrition and anti-doping.
  • Professor Sophia Jowett – Coaching, coach-athlete relationship, coach leadership and the impact on performance and wellbeing.
  • Professor Mark King – Maximising performance and minimising injuries in sport.
  • Dr Ola Krukowska-Burke – Fear of failure, coach-athlete relationship, and coach leadership and the impact on performance and wellbeing.
  • Dr Danny Longman – Using athletes and sport to study human adaptability and evolution.
  • Dr Sarabjit Mastana – Human population genetic studies; biochemical and morphological variation; genetics of sport performance and endurance; and forensic and paternity analyses.
  • Dr Stephen Mears – The role of fluid intake on kidney function during endurance exercise.
  • Dr Stuart McErlain-Naylor – Quantifying the human body’s response to sporting impacts, via wearable technology and computer simulation, for training and rehabilitation monitoring/prescription.
  • Dr Matthew Pain – The biomechanics, motor control and neuromuscular mechanics underpinning performance and injury mechanisms in combat, contact and power-based sports.
  • Dr Anthony Papathomas – Exploring experiences of mental illness and poor mental health within elite performance settings.
  • Dr Carolyn Plateau – Identifying and managing disordered eating and eating disorders in athletes.
  • Dr Daniel Rhind – Safeguarding human rights in, around and through sport.
  • Dr Ian Taylor – Motivational processes that optimise health (e.g. adherence to activity or rehabilitation) and performance (e.g. the capacity to endure discomfort).
  • Dr Lee Taylor – Optimising elite athlete training, competition and recovery for/from exercise in the heat – including heat acclimation and body cooling interventions.
  • Dr Sam Winter – Health and performance applications of biomechanical analyses, particularly breathing mechanics and physical performance in older age.

Current PhD projects

Doctoral researchers in this subtheme include:

  • James Atkins – Work-life balance in elite sports athletes.
  • Phillipa Bailey – Determinants of wheelchair basketball performance: Implications for developing players.
  • Zoe Bamber – A study on the mechanism, preventive strategy, and rehabilitation modalities for sport-related ankle inversion ligamentous sprain injury.
  • Thaleia Basmatzoglou – Assessing the biomechanical risk factors for hamstring injury during maximal velocity sprinting.
  • Neil Clark – The impact of secure bases on athletes' mental health and well-being: How to thrive and flourish during an athlete's career transition.
  • Kerry Glendon – Impact of sports related concussion on neurocognitive performance.
  • Jyoti Gosai – The effect of coaches gender and different leadership styles on coach-athlete relationships.
  • Ross Hill – An examination of thriving in the world’s best athletes over time: an attainable or aspirational aim?
  • Bangda (Bond) Hu – The emerging leadership behaviour in elite sport.
  • Mark Hutson – Physiological consequences and prevention of low energy availability in male and female endurance athletes.
  • Loris Juett – Optimising hydration status for athlete health and performance – a focus on the risk, mechanisms and prevalence of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH).
  • Ailish King – Irrational beliefs, dysfunctional behaviours and wellbeing in athletes.
  • Matthew Lamb – Computer simulation modelling of fast bowling to minimise lumbar stress fractures in cricket.
  • Joseph Montemurro – Maintaining team performance and cultures.
  • Laura Obeng-Frimpong – Biomechanical difference in jump landing in those with and without chronic ankle instability.
  • Kieran Phillips – Performance deviations in professional cricket in reflection of their coach-athlete relationship quality and maintenance strategies.
  • Parichad Plangtaisong – The effects of progressive balance training program in athletes with chronic ankle instability on injury prevention.
  • Nicola Rawlinson – The effect of ovarian hormones on athletic performance in elite/high level female athletes.
  • Katelynn Slade – Abuse of professional and amateur athletes in the UK and USA.
  • Ian Stonebridge – Professional identity and working relationships in youth football coaching.
  • Lauren Turner – Parent-child relationships in elite youth sport.
  • Yuehang (Harry) Wang – Forensic analysis of lateral ankle ligamentous sprain injury in badminton.
  • Andrew Wilkinson – Evaluating pressure inurement training: An examination of the relationship between challenge and threat states, athlete performance and wellbeing.
  • Ella Williams – Understanding effective parent-coach relationships across developmental stages of youth tennis.
  • Chen Zhao – Effect of coach leadership style on coach-athlete relationship.

To find out more about PhD opportunities in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, visit our Postgraduate research webpages.

Experts in Sport podcast: Has concussion in sport hit crisis point?

Host Martin Foster is joined by Dr Dominic Malcolm, Reader in Sociology of Sport, and Kerry Glendon, a physiotherapist for Loughborough Sport to discuss concussions in sport.

 

Listen here