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INSIDE SPORT AND EXERCISE SCIENCES SPRING 2015 NEWSLETTER School of Sport & Exercise Sciences University of Kent, Medway


INSIDE THIS EDITION Welcome to the Spring 2015 edition of the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences newsletter, designed to provide cutting edge insights into the world of sport and exercise sciences and deliver the latest news from the school. News


Psyching Team boost for Tunbridge Wells runners Congratulations to Dr Andy Galbraith on completing his PhD Preparing military engineers for the Himalayas Partners in Industry Day

Student life


Where can strength and conditioning take you? What does Lyndon Phillips think of Sports Management at Kent?

Research spotlight


The need for sports science support Asthma rife among elite athletes

Graduate prospects


How to get your perfect job

Newsletter | Spring 2015


NEWS Psyching Team boost for Tunbridge Wells runners Runners in the Tunbridge Wells halfmarathon were able to call on a bit of extra mental support thanks to a team led by a University sport psychologist. Before they set off on the 13.1 mile race on 22 February, runners were able to speak to the psyching team, organised by the University, to help give themselves that ‘mind over exhaustion’ mentality. And the mental support continued during and after the race too, with the psyching team stationed at different points on the course and at the finish line. It was the first time a UK marathon or halfmarathon race had featured a psyching team to help runners prepare mentally, but they are common in North America, where they originated. The team of ten, which included two sport psychologists from the University’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, had a stand set up as competitors checked in on 21 February to pick up their race bags, as well as on the race day itself.

Newsletter | Spring 2015

The psychologists offered practical tips on how competitors could go about achieving mental strength and, as a symbolic gesture, handed out small pieces of finishing line ribbon for runners to reunite with the finish line when they complete the race. Major international marathons, including those in Toronto and Columbus, have benefited from psyching teams for a number of years. Dr Carla Meijen, Lecturer in Sport Psychology, said that the team was able to provide runners with “practical mental strategies such as goal-setting, relaxation techniques, and helpful self-talk” to improve their performance and enjoyment of the race. The University-led team, also featuring other specialists in sport psychology from around Kent and the South East, was available in the Sports Hall at Fusion Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre from 4.30pm on Saturday 21 February and before the 9.00am race start on Sunday 22 February. They were also stationed at various points around the course to help runners through any difficult moments. Dr Carla Meijen Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology E:


Congratulations to Dr Andy Galbraith on completing his PhD Congratulations to our lecturer and Senior Technician Andy Galbraith on attaining his PhD following the successful completion of his viva. Newly inaugurated, Doctor Andy Galbraith completed his PhD on ‘The distance-time relationship and its use in endurance training and performance’. His main research interests are in endurance performance and he has worked with a range of athletes, predominately endurance runners, from a recreational level to international standard. Throughout his doctoral research Dr Galbraith was able to publish his work in renowned academic journals such as the British Journal of Sports Medicine, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, and the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

all ages has been trekking/climbing from Makalu to Lukla via Everest base camp, taking in 3 x 6000m peaks to a maximum height of 6180m. This will take roughly 30 days. The group have been working with physiologists from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences and training in our altitude chamber twice a week for the past 3 weeks. This has allowed the group to experience exercising at a simulated altitude close to that which they will experience during the expedition.

Partners in Industry Day In celebration of the University of Kent’s 50th anniversary the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences held an exciting Partners in Industry Day at Medway Park.

Over the past month the School have been working with the Royal School of Military Engineering helping them prepare for their trip to the Himalayas.

The event encompassed presentations and workshops from world-leading authorities in the field of endurance research. Topics covered included respiratory health and performance, a sports science research lab overview, the impact of environmental and atmospheric conditions on performance and field research through scientific expeditions. The aim of the event was to foster new collaborations and investment in research projects that are mutually beneficial to both the industry partners and Kent’s Endurance Research Group.

The Royal School of Military Engineering sent 12 of their members to the Himalayas at the end of March, as leg two of a six month army wide expedition. The group of

A variety of industry partners attended the event, including some international technology, respiratory, sports therapy and coaching organisations.

Preparing military engineers for the Himalayas

Newsletter | Spring 2015


STUDENT LIFE Where can strength and conditioning take you? The following article comes from third year BSc Sport and Exercise Science student Antonios Kesisoglou. The transition from being a professional athlete to a student, from all aspects it can be described as either a travel from heaven to hell, or a travel to education and new experiences. My trip was something of both…

mother’s (who is also a graduate of the University of Kent) advice, helped my final choice. When I arrived, I immediately joined the University’s basketball team as a coach and through that I had the opportunity to work with great colleagues and especially the team’s coach at that point, Benjamin Pageaux. Through him, I started working as the strength and conditioning (S&C) coach with Kent Crusaders U-16, and that’s how everything begun. Also, Organic Training‘s certificate got me more involved with personal training and S&C ideas.

This Christmas break, I was invited to lead the S&C program of Kent Crusaders and Canterbury academy during a 14-day experience in Spain. It was the first time as an S&C trainer that all the knowledge and ideas I have gained, could be applied in real life. The trip started in Leon region, where we won second place in the local tournament. After that, in Madrid, we played friendly games with elite-local teams and trained alongside Spanish basketball experts. My responsibilities included injury prevention pre/post games and training I signed my first professional contact with exercise programs and nutritional advice. P.A.O.K Thessaloniki B.C. immediately after The amazing experience would not have I turned 18 years old. I was also selected to been the same if I didn’t have the support of play for the (U-18) National team, took part the coaching team, and especially the in great tournaments and had the chance to physio specialist, Mark Dayson. Special work with great coaches, trainers and thanks have to be given to Jesse Sazant physiotherapists. However, a double ACLand Ivan Cuesta for providing me this meniscus knee injury completely destroyed opportunity. any dreams I had for a career in basketball and did not allow me to accept a scholarship I returned to my studies full of energy and with the University of Florida. Despite some excitement for further knowledge and bad memories, these days gave me virtues practice. This trip was once in a lifetime such as self-discipline and hardworking chance for me to work with specialists and motivation. acquire much-needed field experience. This trip helped me to broaden my horizons in Sports and basketball were my life so I terms of seeing other training cultures and wanted to study something that would meet interesting sport-related people. include them. I decided to join the School of Finally, interesting career-opportunities Sport and Exercise Sciences of the came up, giving me extra motivation for University of Kent as it is a leading harder work. institution in this area. Moreover, my I graduated from the Aristoteleio College of Thessaloniki, Greece. It is a school with a tradition of player development in youth basketball, always with respect to education. At the moment, many graduates compete at the highest European level in Euroleague, Greek, Italian and Spanish leagues. Kostas Papanikolaou – a close friend – proudly represents our generation while playing for Houston Rockets this season in the NBA.

Newsletter | Spring 2015


What does Lyndon Phillips think of Sports Management at Kent? The University’s link with Medway Park in the Medway Masters Programme is excellent. It allows for Kent students to gain access to top-class facilities free during certain times What attracted you to study at Kent? Sports Management is not offered at that many universities and Kent appeared to be the best ranked university with modules that appealed to me. How is your course going? The course is going well. The second year was a big step up from the first year in terms of workload but I felt well prepared to tackle the assignments we were given. The lecturers are all friendly. In fact, all the staff I have encountered at Kent have been very approachable. I am never afraid to ask questions.

Sport and Exercise Psychology is also very interesting because I enjoy applying the relevant theory to a practical example, for instance, an elite level tennis player – it gives a good understanding of what is going on in the heads of athletes while watching What is the level of support like in your them perform. I also enjoyed the Marketing studies? module in the second year – it was The level of support and resources available interesting analysing relevant sports marketing campaigns and trying to ’read’ the at Kent, such as books and journals is underlying messages and target extensive; I have never had too much demographics. It makes looking at difficulty finding articles relevant to my advertisements a lot more interesting. assignments. In terms of staff support, I would say that the support mostly came How would you describe your fellow when I have requested it from the lecturers students? – and within my School once notified the staff will clear up any grey areas and help My fellow students are very friendly. The until the problem is resolved. unions formed at university is unlike any other, because once you have chosen to go Which modules have you enjoyed the to the same university you are thrown into most, and why? the same situations together. Most of the students I have met had left home for the As a Sport Management student, two main areas are studied: Sport and Management. first time and so we all had to tackle the same issues at the same time. So a lot of In terms of sport, my favourite module was support during my time at university has Principles of Training, which we covered in the first year. The module content was high, come from my friends and through relationships I have formed here. You find but the facts learnt are essential to any that everybody at university has something sport. The seminars were particularly fun. in common.

Newsletter | Spring 2015


What are the facilities like on campus? On campus, the library facilities are good, all relevant resources are in abundance and the computer availability is never too much of an issue. In terms of sport, although it isn’t on campus, the University’s link with Medway Park in the Medway Masters Programme is excellent. It allows for Kent students to gain access to top-class facilities free during certain times. This is excellent, and I take advantage of it as much as possible. Socially, the Medway campus has Cooper’s, a small bar, which always has a good ambience and the prices are reasonable. What sort of things do you do in your spare time?

What kind of career do you hope to follow when you leave, and why? I am attracted towards a career in the sports marketing industry when I graduate because I believe that enjoyment and participation in sports activities is declining, so by producing new sports products and services or by re-marketing existing ones, I can help to increase the interest, enjoyment and participation levels among people in various sports. Any advice to other students coming to Kent?

You get out of university what you put into it. If you only put the minimum amount of effort into your time here it will be reflected in your A lot of my spare time is spent playing grades and your CV. So get involved, badminton, as I am captain of the men’s 1st participate in as many extra curricular team. But there are plenty of opportunities activities and projects as possible. Not only to play a variety of sports at the Medway will it increase your knowledge, but it will campus, and I believe it is good to do so as also help you to make more friends and it widens your social circles at university and make your CV look more impressive, which increases your friendship base. Some of my will increase your employment prospects. If spare time is spent on voluntary projects. you put more effort into your time here, your For example; I am involved in the Iron Gym job application will hopefully stand out from project, which seeks to create a public piece those of other graduates. of exercise equipment that doubles as a piece of installation art that links in with local culture and heritage. It is a joint course project – a collaboration between sports students and Fine Art students – where we are given a chance to work together. It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

USEFUL NUMBERS School office Tel: 01634 888858 Student administration Tel: 01634 888881 Student support Tel: 01634 882999

Newsletter | Spring 2015


RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT The need for sports science support

3200m running performance, and reduce his 200m swim time from his current personal best of 2:11 to 2:06.

Recently Free Access for National Sports People (FANS) member David Carr volunteered to work with a student from the School’s MSc Sports Science for Optimal Performance degree programme. Specifically, David’s Involvement in the student’s studies included a 12 week period of Sport Science support aimed at assessing, and then improving David’s sporting performance.

What was done?

David is a three-time national age group champion in Modern Pentathlon and is a member of Pentathlon GB. The main constraint that he had was that his training time was limited to about 10-12 hours per week due to the requirements of his A-Level studies. The challenge was therefore how to split his available training time across the five disciplines required in modern pentathlon (fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping, combined pistol shooting and a 3200m cross-country run). Following initial discussions it was decided that David should focus on his swimming and running performance. David had defined training sessions for fencing, horse riding and shooting during the week, and so swim and run training had to be incorporated into the free time slots. David’s goals for the season were to improve his

At an initial meeting to discuss his requirements David identified that he would like a flexible approach to his training, with a range of sessions that he could select from according to time availability and upcoming events. An informal discussion covered David’s goals and aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, perceived barriers, and generally what makes him tick! A broadbrush strokes approach was agreed rather than planning in minute detail. This necessitated that David provide detailed feedback on how the programme was progressing, thus allowing ad-hoc changes to be made. Following the meeting we conducted a needs analysis. Modern Pentathlon presents challenges for planning training across five very different sporting disciplines completed within the same day. David’s strengths and weaknesses were identified from his performances in the previous season. A triangulation method was applied by tallying such data with David’s self-ratings of his strengths and weaknesses. David also attended the exercise testing laboratory for a full physiological assessment.

Newsletter | Spring 2015


Training focused on the running and swimming disciplines as the area requiring greatest attention. The assessment included measurement of resting blood parameters, running economy, lactate threshold and maximal aerobic capacity - all factors that have been shown to influence endurance performance. Our support also included an assessment of David’s swimming performance in the pool, and in conjunction with his swimming coach, identified areas for improvement. The test results identified running velocity at lactate threshold as the key area for development. We developed a training programme composed of one-week training blocks, each having an overall training intensity weighting anchored on a 5-zone heart rate approach. This was an ideal start point as it allows sessions to be clearly differentiated, whilst not overcomplicating things. A series of training sessions in each of the zones were developed from which David could select according to the overall aim for each week’s training and his available time. His swimming sessions were based upon both time and heart rate, and had input from his swimming coach. The programme allowed for 4 running and 3 swimming sessions to be completed a week. As the programme progressed we ensured that the intensity of David’s training increased with the aim of reducing his 200m and 3000m swimming and running times respectively. Further discussions with David and his swimming coach revealed that he needed to improve his breathing efficiency during swimming. To achieve this we implemented a twice-daily breathing training regime, conducted on five days of the week.

Newsletter | Spring 2015

Did the programme have an effect? Following a period of three months David returned to the laboratory and completed the same fitness tests. David had improved his running speed at his lactate threshold and also improved his running economy. This meant that at his desired race intensity his body was not as stressed as it had been prior to the training intervention. Additionally, he did not expend as much energy to run at any given running speed. Ultimately these training adaptations mean that if we were to match David for the same level of pre-training metabolic stress and energy expenditure, he would be able to run faster and cover the 3km quicker. David’s swimming performance also improved markedly over the 12-week training period. His swimming times demonstrated a 4 second improvement over 100m and a 5 second improvement over both 200 and 400m distances. Even though the programme we developed with David had the desired effect, from a pragmatic perspective, the perfect training programme does not exist. There are a multitude of complex interacting factors that impact on an athlete’s performance and training progression. Consequently, a continuous dialogue between the athlete and us as sports scientists is necessary. This allows the training programme to accurately reflect current training status and the changeable nature of other life commitments, thus maximising the opportunity for a successful outcome. As an athlete it is important that training is an enjoyable process.


Asthma rife among elite athletes Dr John Dickinson’s research found that 70% of top UK swimmers from the British Swimming squad suffer from some form of respiratory condition, especially exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Over 20% of the athletes involved with Great British Olympic Team have exercise induced asthma. However, the number of elite sports people with EIA is relatively unknown because a number of athletes with EIA go undiagnosed as they fail to report symptoms. Dr Dickinson’s research found that 70% of his sample from the British Swimming squad has some form of asthma and about a third are prone to asthma. These figures are in stark contrast with the 8% - 10% national asthma rate in the UK.

hard in a certain environment, and if you take them out of that environment they’re fine. It’s a grey zone. But my argument is it’s a form of asthma.’ Dr Dickinson suggests that engaging in sport can be beneficial for asthmatics: ‘It allows you to get a lot more confident about controlling the way you breathe. The sensation of an obstruction you feel when you’re younger has dropped massively. A lot of the athletes who say they had it as a child but don’t anymore, when you do the test they still have a positive test.’ Diagnosis significantly improves athletic performance and health. However, respiratory symptoms experienced during exercise may not related to asthma.

Historically it was necessary for the medication prescribed for asthma to be cleared with doping authorities, via medical certificates. Common bronchio-dilating The test Dr Dickinson uses involves athletes inhalers like salbuthamol can now be used being asked to breathe a very dry air by any athlete so long as they do not mixture for six minutes at high ventilation, exceed predetermined limits in dosage. with their lung function tested before and after. The asthma-induced fall can be Dr John Dickinson dramatic, as high as 40%, Dr Dickinson Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology says: ‘Athletes with asthma can feel bad if E: perceiving their lung function has dropped. They get used to pushing themselves, get used to feeling out of breath and being able to control that. It depends which respiratory consultant you talk to on whether you put these athletes on a spectrum of asthma, or whether you think that’s purely down to them exercising really

Newsletter | Spring 2015


GRADUATE PROSPECTS How to get your perfect job Here is a fascinating article to from one of our recent graduates from the BSc Sport and Exercise for Health programme. Rose Brenton is a newly appointed exercise physiologist with the local NHS cardiac rehabilitation team. Here is what she had to say on how to get your perfect job. After all those years of hard work, stress, and more than your fair share of emotional breakdowns over that assignment that’s due in tomorrow, you can finally call yourself a graduate with the degree that you thought you might never get. And that’s a great feeling, but then what? These days we’re all too familiar with the difficulties of landing that all important first job. That moment of realisation that maybe the degree you worked so hard for isn’t quite enough. The crucial decision between using your degree to start a career, or settling for something, when you know you’re capable of much more. This is a dilemma that many of us face, myself included, and so it’s important to set yourself up for success early on. This is my 3 step guide for getting the perfect job:

the weekend finally gets here. In the end we all get the degree we deserve, so focus on the end goal. It’ll be worth it. Step 2: Volunteering & work experience ‘I’m sorry but you don’t have the relevant experience that we are looking for’ This phrase may come in many variations, but the bottom line is that relevant work experience is of the upmost importance. Securing a volunteer role while still at Uni may be one of the most valuable assets you gain alongside your degree. No one likes to work for nothing, but I have to say, even if you give up an hour or two a week of your precious time, it makes all the difference. Voluntary experience speaks volumes about you as a person and allows you to gain the all-important work experience needed for that dream role. What goes around comes around – those unpaid hours will set you apart from the rest and eventually you will get your reward. Also it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Cliché maybe, but the people you may meet through work experience and volunteering may come in handy when looking for a full time position.

Step 1: Studying

Step 3: Extra qualifications

The hard work has to start early. It’s easy to be complacent and drift through Uni being more concerned about what happened last night than what needs to be done for tomorrow, but it’s all about getting the balance right. Employers are looking not just for a degree, but a GOOD degree. This means to give yourself a head start over others you need to be aiming for a 2:1 or higher! And it’s possible. Consistency is key. As a chronic procrastinator myself, I can honestly say the best advice is to get that assignment done early and keep organised. This will help keep stress levels down and leave you with more time when

Along with work experience, any further qualifications you earn will give you that much needed boost. It shows initiative and willingness to expand your skills and knowledge. Getting my personal trainer qualification, and others, has opened so many doors for me.

Newsletter | Spring 2015

If during the course of your studies you have the opportunity to get any extra qualifications or certificates, grab it! If not, it’s never too late. Be proactive and find a recognised course (there are many) that will give you the qualification that makes you stand out.

DO YOU HAVE A STORY? Bradley Cronk Marketing Officer 01634 882999

University of Kent Medway Building, University of Kent Medway Campus, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4AG

T: +44 (0) 1634 888858 F: +44 (0) 1634 888890

Inside Sport and Exercise Sciences / Spring 2015  

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences newsletter is designed to provide cutting edge insights into the world of sport and exercise scien...

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