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We develop and apply new knowledge that improves our understanding of sport and physical activity. We have four research themes that focus on applied computing, biomechanics, design engineering, and skill acquisition. We also work closely with colleagues in the Health and Wellbeing Research Institute to maximise the benefits of interdisciplinary research.

We have a culture of public engagement and are committed to make our research accessible to wide audiences. Our public engagement activities have directly connected to more than 1 million participants.

Our research is funded by a variety of sources including

  • research councils – such as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • European funding - such as Horizon 2020
  • elite sport - such as UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and sport teams
  • sport governing bodies - such as the International Tennis Federation, FIFA and World Rugby
  • commercial sponsors – such as Adidas, Ping, Decathlon and Labosport

Applied Computing

The applied computing theme develops performance analysis methods for use in elite sports. We work with many national teams through the English Institute of Sport to provide bespoke technology solutions. Our methods involve video and data capture, databases, image processing, sensor technologies, machine learning, data mining and mobile apps. Our research provides users with appropriate feedback to change behaviour and identifies key performance indicators to inform strategy.


The biomechanics theme combines expertise in biomechanics, engineering, sensors, computer programming and motor learning to develop and use biomechanics measurement systems outside of the lab, in more representative settings. We are also pioneering the use of low-cost three dimensional scanning for body morphology research.

Design Engineering

Our design engineering theme is focused on developing a better understanding of sports equipment and its environment. Using fundamental physics, experiments and modelling techniques, we optimise sporting equipment for performance, athlete safety and increased participation. We utilise user centred design to push the boundaries of innovation in sports equipment, and validate our interventions using advanced measurement systems.

Skill Acquisition

The skill acquisition theme integrates theoretical and empirical knowledge in psychology, motor learning, behavioural neuroscience, and sport science with experiential knowledge of elite practitioners in coaching, training and sports pedagogy to study how the performance of athletes and sports teams can be enhanced. Theme researchers work with coaches, trainers and other practitioners to develop understanding of learning design and practice programme implementation in elite and development sport programmes across the world.
View our REF 2014 Case Studies

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