Research Group

Exercise and Sport Science

Research within Exercise & Sport Science is interdisciplinary and diverse. Our research covers topics ranging from improving elite sports performance to the positive effects of exercise for both general and clinical populations.

Research within Exercise & Sport Science is interdisciplinary and diverse. Our research covers topics ranging from improving elite sports performance to the positive effects of exercise for both general and clinical populations.

Please see below for further information on current research projects and research interests of Exercise & Sport Science staff.

Sport Technology Applications

Our research aims to validate the practical usefulness of various portable technologies in a variety of sports settings, with a particular focus on Global Positioning System (GPS) and inertial measurement unit (IMU) technologies. GPS devices are used to record athlete position, movement velocity and acceleration during competition and training. Modern IMU devices incorporate accelerometers, magnetometer and/or gyroscopes. Our research includes investigating the validity and reliability of GPS and IMU devices, such as accelerometers, in monitoring athletic performance. This information is then used by coaches to inform programming and training decisions, with a view to optimizing athletic performance. Our sporting partners include the Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Knights, Basketball Australia and Australian Institute of Sport.

Contact: Dr. Xanne Janse de Jonge, Dr. Suzi Edwards, Dr. Adrian Schultz

Females in Sport

There are two aspects crucial to sport performance: the body (physiology) and the mind (psychology). The combination of the two allows us to develop better training systems to achieve optimal athlete performance. However, such systems are often based knowledge developed for male athletes as females athletes present unique challenges due to physiological changes experienced during menstrual cycle and restricted opportunities and societal stereotypes affecting their performance (i.e., psychological aspects). Our team is interested in investigating both.

Physiology: During their reproductive years women are exposed to continuously changing female steroid hormone profiles throughout the menstrual cycle or through oral contraceptive use. These variations not only affect the reproductive system, but also cause many physiological changes. Dr. Xanne Janse de Jonge investigates if these hormone fluctuations affect exercise performance. She is also interested in assessing if the "trainability" of females is affected by these fluctuations in female steroid hormones. Current projects focus on body composition throughout the cycle and on periodisation of resistance training programs to female hormone fluctuations.

Contact: Dr Xanne Janse de Jonge

Psychology:  Mental preparation for male and female athletes is not different. All of us experience the same difficulties associated with performance: coping with training and competition pressure and failures, experiencing physical and mental fatigue on daily basis, or dealing with personal life stressors affecting performance. Nevertheless, female athletes often experience added pressures related to gender stereotypes created by our society. For instance, if a female athlete makes a sincere mistake, she is often judged by being a female rather than taking into consideration physiological and psychological aspects needed to execute a skill under pressure. Dr Fraser investigates how such stereotypes are affecting female athletes’ experiences in sport as well as perceived and actual performance (e.g. the mediator effect of attentional focus on performance). She is also interested in how we can promote female athletes’ development by challenging existing sports culture and creating pathways to elite sport suitable for both male and female athletes. Findings are then used to empirically support the benefits of various initiatives aimed at promoting the developed of female athletes. Such initiatives include both creation of extra opportunities as well as offering professional development for coaches and other support staff.

Contact: Dr Kotryna K. Fraser

Sports Injury Mechanics

Our injury mechanics research aims to provide critical knowledge that is likely to reduce the incidence of sporting injuries, firstly by early identification of those at risk and secondly by implementation of effective intervention programs and injury prevention strategies. The early identification of players at risk of injury through identification of critical biomechanical features of movement technique and the variability of the technique will enable intervention to take place to improve safer sport participation. The results of our research will inform new strategies for coaches and clinicians to correct landing technique and optimise performance. Current musculoskeletal injuries that we are investigating include patellar tendinopathy in basketball, lower back injuries in cricket fast bowlers and sailing, hamstring and groin injuries in basketball, Australian Football and soccer, and chronic non-traumatic neck pain. Our sporting partners include the Australian Institute of Sport and Australian Sailing Team.

Contact: Dr. Suzi Edwards, Dr. Adrian Schultz

Speed and Agility in Sport

Agility and speed is vital to success in team sport competition with the trunk argued to play a key role in sport performance. Our Exercise & Sport Science research is exploring the critical factors that optimise athletic performance. These include investigating the relationship between three-dimensional agility technique, trunk control and field-based measures of athletic performance.  Our sporting partners include the Australian Institute of Sport and Basketball Australia.

Contact: Dr. Suzi Edwards, Dr. Adrian Schultz

Applied Strength & Conditioning

Our applied strength and conditioning research aims to provide practical end-user outcomes that facilitate optimal performance in various athlete groups. Our interdisciplinary approach feature collaborations between expert contributors in sports injury prevention, biomechanics, motor control and strength and conditioning research.

Contact: Dr. Adrian Schultz

Applied Exercise Physiology

Applied exercise physiology research involves solidifying the link between the study of human physiology and its application to sport and exercise. Our research within this area has a wide range of applications including investigating post-exercise recovery methods, hydration status in team sport athletes, quantification of physiological training loads during team sports, and validation of new sport science equipment and/or methods. Implications of our research into applied exercise physiology delivers real world applications to optimise athletic performance via delivering critical information to inform training practices, testing procedures and/or recovery modalities.

Contact: Dr Nattai Borges, Dr Xanne Janse de Jonge

Mental Fatigue & Athletic Performance

Our research surrounding mental fatigue and athletic performance primarily aims to identify the impact of acute mental fatigue on various elements of performance across multiple sports. Understanding the impact of mental fatigue on sports performance (and the mechanisms underpinning this impact), then enables us to investigate novel strategies for managing/limiting the negative effects of mental fatigue to enhance performance. The findings of our research have critical implications for the pre- and post-competition activities of athletes.

Contact: Mr. Mitchell Smith

Clinical Exercise Science

Our multidisciplinary research features aims to discover crucial evidence to improve prevention and clinical management programs of various health issues. Current projects included investigating the influence of isometric strength training on blood pressure control, the remote supervision of home-based exercise therapy in patients suffering from diabetes and chronic low back pain, and effectiveness of physiotherapy and chiropractic rehabilitation programs in chronic neck pain patients, and psychological aspects of recovery. Our research partners include University of Newcastle Physical Activity Research Centre, Assoc Prof Suzanne Snodgrass (physiotherapy), Assoc Prof Vivienne Chuter (podiatry), and Australian Institute of Sport.

Contact: Dr. Adrian Schultz, Dr. Xanne Janse de Jonge, Dr. Suzi Edwards

Inclusivity and Positive Youth Development through Sport

Our research goes beyond performance and takes into consideration the development of the athlete as a whole person. This includes looking at sport as a means to develop character rather than assuming that such benefits will emerge by mere participation. Current projects include investigation of the process of personal and social development to help coaches and support staff to better understand how they can promote such athletes’ development through their own practices. Besides, personal and social development goes beyond the notions of self-confidence or teamwork and comprises challenging stereotypes and creating inclusive environment for all.

Contact: Dr Kotryna K. Fraser

The Effectiveness of Mental Skill Training  

Mental skill training is not different from physical training as it takes time and effort to develop mental skills such as ability to cope, control attentional focus or effectively plan for performance. And yet it continues to receive little attention until things go wrong. Therefore, our work has investigated the effectiveness of mental skill training on performance within a range of sports varying from cricket to esports.

Contact: Dr Kotryna K Fraser