Category Archives: Research

PhD News

Many congratulations to Sport and Fitness Senior Lecturer, Jessica Pinchbeck for recently passing her PhD viva with just minor modifications.

A summary of Jess’s PhD thesis:

“It’s more than just playing a sport”. A socio-cultural analysis of participation in netball across the lifespan.

This thesis followed the journey of a small sample of women from one netball club located in the East of England to provide an insightful analysis into their childhood experiences of sport, exploring the extent to which this may have shaped their adult participation and the complexities of this connection. The study was conducted from an interpretivist perspective and used an ethnographic approach to examine how the women think and act in different situations, and how this develops over time as a result of previous experiences. These women and their experiences are not viewed in isolation but examined and studied in the wider context and alongside relationships in which their sports experiences have been socially constructed. Bourdieu’s (1984) theory of practice examines the extent to which social processes influence the behaviours, tastes, and judgements of individuals. This approach provides a valuable theoretical lens through which to view the sociocultural context of the women’s historical childhood experiences of sports participation alongside their current sports participation.

Findings show support for the formation of a habitus towards sports participation developed throughout childhood which has endured into adulthood. The women’s habitus persists as a significant influence on their lives, demonstrated in the drive and passion to negotiate their netball participation, which can sometimes cause friction and tension in the women’s relationships. Subtle changes are evident in the behaviour and dispositions of the women as they enter different stages of their lives and also as their skill level in the sport increases. Habitus, developed throughout their childhood, influences the women’s tastes and socialises them into ways of behaving, however, their behaviour is also shaped and influenced by social structures. This study provides a unique connection of past and present to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of female sports participation.

Jess has completed her PhD part time alongside her full-time roll with the OU Sport and Fitness team. She was supervised by Dr Sam Murphy, Dr Martin Toms and Dr Alex Twitchen.

Congratulations to Dr Pinchbeck and all her supervisors!

New Honorary Associate

We are delighted to introduce Dr John Bradley as a new Honorary Associate within the Sport and Fitness research group. John’s research and publications will be affiliated to the group and he is already working on collaborative projects with members of the team. Welcome, John!

Professional biography

John is an associate lecturer with the OU, currently working with E236: Applying sport and exercise sciences to coaching, and SK299: Human Biology. He has previously held a number of academic and applied sport science positions including lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Coaching Science at University College Cork in Ireland, and Exercise Physiologist with the Scottish Institute of Sport. John has a PhD in the field of Exercise Physiology from Glasgow University, with a thesis titled: Lactate production and the redox state of muscle.

Research Interests

Part of John’s research looks at factors influencing athlete performance, and then using this to create informed conditioning programmes. He has recently analysed the injury risk factors of athletes participating in swimming and then used this information to develop an informed conditioning programmes based upon these risk factors. He is now looking to continue this research in swimming and extend it to include a range of other sports such as golf and tennis.

Another area of research interest is the role of sport and non-sport extracurricular activities on academic achievement. This can perhaps be partly summarised by the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body concept, but also including non-sport activities as well. This has resulted in the development of a dual step transfer model to explain the enhancement of school academic achievement from participation in a range of extracurricular activities.

Other activities

John volunteers as a coach with a local swimming club and enjoys a range of water sports himself, including swimming, kayaking and canoeing.

Selected Publications

New PhD student

We are excited to introduce Lorna Mackay, one of our new PhD student within the Sport and Fitness research group. Lorna is studying part time with us alongside her personal training. Lorna’s research into the use of percussive therapy to improve perceptions of chronic non-specific musculoskeletal pain in strength and conditioning settings will be supervised by Dr Ben Langdown, Dr Joan Simons and Dr Jitka Vseteckova.  Welcome, Lorna!

Professional biography

Lorna Mackay runs her own business as a personal trainer and Zumba instructor. Her specialist interest lies in the management of chronic pain through the participation in exercise. She is a strong believer in both the physiological and psychological benefits of exercise.

Research interests

Lorna holds a MSc in Sport an Exercise Science; her research considered the effect of Zumba® and ZumbaGold® on non-specific, pre-existing musculoskeletal pain. Lorna’s PhD research is building on her previous work by investigating the effect of integrating percussive therapy into warm ups of strength and conditioning programmes, to improve perceptions of chronic non-specific musculoskeletal pain in knees, lumbar spine and shoulders.

Other activities

When Lorna isn’t in the gym or studying, she is out walking her dog in the local countryside.

New Publication

Dr Nichola Kentzer, along with Associate Lecturer (E235), Jo Horne, recently published an article in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. The article was a systematic review examining UK based research on informal carers and their physical activity levels. More detail on the review can be found in this OU Sport and Fitness Blog post, written by lead author Jo.

The authors, from The Open University and Anglia Ruskin University, are currently undertaking further reviews examining international literature on the same topic.

Congratulations to Nichola, Joanne and their co-authors!

 

New Publication and Training Model

Dr Nichola Kentzer recently contributed to the 2019 Winter edition of Research Intelligence from the British Educational Research Association (BERA) with an article featuring a model that was developed as part of her PhD research.

 

The mentoring model conceptualised in Nichola’s research has subsequently been used to good effect by supporting the development of the supervisor training resources for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) new Sport and Exercise Psychology Accreditation Route (SEPAR) launched in January 2020.

The use of Nichola’s mentoring process in the BASES SEPAR supervisor model has been a key part of structuring the supervisor training. Collaborating with training lead Dr Hayley McEwan from the University of West Scotland, Nichola wrote and delivered the second compulsory training module focusing on the use of observation in the supervision process.

 

On the back of this work, the two colleagues have recently published an article in The Sport and Exercise Scientist (Summer 2020), outlining how their approach to supervising BASES SEPAR trainees could be used across the other sport science disciplines.

 

Congratulations to Dr Nichola Kentzer and her collaborators on the success of this high profile project.

New Publication

Dr Ben Langdown has worked closely with The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) to research the sports science perceptions and practices of high-skilled golfers and future golf coaches. This paper has been accepted for publication in Journal of Sports Sciences (March 2020) and is now available ahead of print: Sports science for golf: A survey of high-skilled golfers’ “perceptions” and “practices”.

This work has been influential on The PGA’s sports science modules on the FdSc in Professional Golf, highlighting some of the common beliefs that still exist and addressing coach education in areas such as: warm-up and cool down protocols, strength and conditioning and use of sports science in applied coaching settings.

Congratulations to Ben and Jack Wells from The PGA!

New Book Chapter

Dr Nichola Kentzer, whose interest spans across sport psychology and education, recently published a book chapter combining the two areas. Nichola’s chapter, written with Dr Emma Huntley from Edgehill University, ‘Sport, Psychology and Christianity: The Importance of Reflective Practice’ examines how sport psychologists can work with athletes of faith effectively. The chapter forms part of a textbook aimed to support applied practitioners.

Conference Presentation

Back on 12th July, Dr Nichola Kentzer presented a round table discussion at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Special Interest Group conference on ‘Mental health and wellbeing in education’. Nichola presented her research on the importance of this area to doctoral students on their PhD journey. The research was well received and a number of exciting projects, related to this area, are in the pipeline. Nichola also has a book chapter on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ in education coming out this year – watch this space!

Research Conference Presentations

Dr Alex Twitchen has once again been accepted to present at the UK Coaching Applied Research Conference, being hosted at Derby County F.C., with two colleagues from the FA. Alex will be presenting in February 2019 on the UEFA B Vets project which is investigating the impact of a peer to peer learning environment. Alex previously presented at the 2018 inaugural conference on his research into ‘randomly applied constraints as a means to develop and improve the practice design skills of coaches’. Congratulations Alex!