Gabriella Penitente

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Doctor Gabriella Penitente PhD

Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics


Gabriella is a senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics and she joined Sheffield Hallam University in 2010. She is the Course Leader for the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degree and she contributes to a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level. 

Gabriella's research interest is on biomechanics and performance factors in aesthetic and technical sports such diving, ballet, athletic and martial arts. Her interests and expertise include also the biomechanical evaluation of gait in children. 


Gabriella is a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics in the Department of Sport. She is the Course Leader for the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degree. Before joining Hallam she was a Teaching Fellow at Abertay University of Dundee and a Teaching Assistant at the University of Bologna.

Gabriella graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bologna in 2004, earning both a BSc and MSc degree in Sport and Exercise Science. She received her PhD in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics from the University of Bologna in 2008. During her doctoral studies Gabriella worked as invited scientist at the US Olympic Training Centre (USOC) in Colorado Springs, where she contributed to various projects regarding elite performance in a number of sports.

Gabriella's expertise is in the biomechanics and performance factors of aesthetic sports. Some of her work focuses on the mechanics of handspring skills performed by elite gymnasts on the table vault and on the floor. The aim of her research is to understand how to develop gymnasts' ability to execute these skills in an effective way and reducing the risks of upper body injuries.

Gabriella's interest also includes gait analysis. Her research focusses on the effect of footwear on children's gait.

Areas of interest:

  • Biomechanics of acrobatic sports
  • Biomechanics of technical sports
  • Gait analysis
  • Performance Analysis


Sport and Exercise Science 

  • BSc Sport and Exercise Science 
  • MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Science 

  • Foundations of Biomechanics in Sport and Exercise 
  • Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise 
  • Applied Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise
  • Analysis and Evaluation of Performance: Technical and Tactical
  • Issues in Sport and Exercise Science
  • Research Project in Sport and Exercise Science


  • Biomechanical analysis of the take-off in springboard diving
  • Effect of footwear on children's gait


Key Publications

Sands, W.A., McNeal, J.R., Penitente, G., Murray, S.R., Nassar, L., Jemni, M., ... Stone, M.H. (2016). Stretching the spines of gymnasts: a review. Sports Medicine, 46 (3), 315-327.

Penitente, G., & Sands, W. (2015). Exploratory investigation of impact loads during the forward handspring vault. Journal of Human Kinetics, 46, 59-68.

Penitente, G., Hull, M.J., & Sands, W.A. (2014). Temporal, force and postural analysis of releve` en pointe in novice and intermediate dancers. 32nd International Conference on Biomechanics in Sport, 721-724.

Penitente, G. (2014). Performance analysis of the female Yurchenko layout on the table vault. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 14 (1), 84-97.

Sands, W.A., Kimmel, W.L., McNeal, J.R., Smith, S.L., Penitente, G., Murray, S.R., ... Stone, M.H. (2013). Kinematic and kinetic tumbling take-off comparisons of a spring-floor and an Air Floor™: A pilot study. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 5 (3), 31-46.

Journal articles

Penitente, G., Young, H.A., Sands, W.A., & McNeal, J.R. (2023). A classification of fitness components in elite alpine skiers: a cluster analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 20 (10).

A Sands, W., R McNeal, J., Bullock, J., Schiller, T., Deck, H., Penitente, G., ... C. Bogdanis, G. (2021). Body Size and Composition of U.S. National Team Skiers and Snowboarders. Journal of Sports Research, 8 (1), 16-25.

Sands, W.A., Bogdanis, G.C., Penitente, G., & Donti, O. (2021). Assessing interest in artistic gymnastics. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 13 (1), 5-18.

Sands, W.A., Bogdanis, G.C., Penitente, G., Donti, O., McNeal, J.R., Butterfield, C.C., ... Barker, L.A. (2020). Reliability and validity of a low-cost portable force platform. Isokinetics and Exercise Science, 28 (3), 247-253.

Sands, W.A., Kelly, B., Bogdanis, G., Barker, L., Donti, O., McNeal, J.R., & Penitente, G. (2019). Comparison of bungee-aided and free-bouncing accelerations on trampoline. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 11 (3), 279-288.

Conference papers

Shafizadeh, M., Mucklow, C., Marsh, G., Churchill, S., Penitente, G., Jones, L., ... Fielding-Lloyd, B. (2023). Perceptions of barriers and facilitators to enhance applied work experience in sport science courses. In Annual Conference of Teaching and Learning, Sheffield Hallam University.

Penitente, G., Southeran, A., Hewson, H., Ref, T., & Sands, W. (2019). Hurdle in reverse dives performed by elite and sub-elite divers [abstract only]. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18-19.

Sands, W.A., McNeal, J.R., Alumbaugh, B., Penitente, G., Jemni, M., Murray, S.R., ... Stone, M.H. (2013). Tumbling Take-Off Foot Contact Comparisons - Two Types of Gymnastics Spring Floors. MEDICINE AND SCIENCE IN SPORTS AND EXERCISE, 45 (5), 543.

Theses / Dissertations

Brayne, L.C. (2021). An investigation into football-specific dynamic balance measures. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Heller, B., Wheat, J., & Penitente, G.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Dynamic balance in sport performance

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