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AIS boosts sport research and innovation with new grants program

21 March 2023

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has announced a new round of grants for research and innovation in high performance sport.

Researchers from Griffith University working on a project
Lead researchers from Griffith University were among eleven research teams to receive a grant.

The AIS Research Grants Program will see grants totalling $500,000 allocated to eleven leading research teams located across Australia to help elite athletes, coaches and support staff optimise their performance.

From improving athlete health and wellbeing to uncovering the success of Esports, each research project will have a significant impact on the high performance system and each one aligns with research priorities outlined in the National High Performance Sport Research Agenda.

The funding will see lead researchers from Griffith University, the University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University, La Trobe University, the University of Southern Queensland, Deakin University, the University of Western Australia, the University of Sunshine Coast and Southern Cross University undertake their research projects over the next 12 months.

AIS Executive General Manager Matti Clements said: “This work aligns with a key priority outlined in Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy to deliver world-leading knowledge, innovation and practice to ensure our athletes, coaches and performance support can work as high functioning performance teams.”

“It’s also great to see such a diverse range of topics being explored such as women’s health, heat exposure and Para-powerlifting as each one will provide crucial data and evidence to those working within the high performance system.”

AIS General Manager of Knowledge and Insights Dr Paolo Menaspà was pleased to see the quality of the research submissions.

“These grants will support exceptional research and help pave the way for sustained success as we head towards the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

“The eleven awarded projects hold great promise for enhancing athlete wellbeing and performance, advancing sport research and ultimately delivering results that make Australia proud.”

The successful applicants are:

The Successful Athlete:

Jonathan Robertson will lead a team of researchers from Deakin University and Griffith University in partnership with the Queensland Academy of Sport and the Victorian Institute of Sport to support the delivery of evidence-based wellbeing services to high performance athletes.

Associate Professor Emma George and PhD candidate Scott Fatt from Western Sydney University will work in partnership with Paralympics Australia to better understand the risk factors associated with disordered eating and exercise among elite athletes. Their team will look to improve the ways symptoms can be identified and how interventions can be better tailored to address athlete needs.

Brianna Larsen from the University of Southern Queensland with work with researchers from Griffith University, the Queensland Academy of Sport and the Victorian Institute of Sport in partnership with the Ipswich Basketball Association to lead a research project which assesses female athletes and support staff knowledge about the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives. The findings will then shape the development of female physiology educational resources.

Rob Buhmann will lead a group of researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast and the Queensland University of Technology in partnership with the Queensland Academy of Sport to identify Para-athletes who may be candidates to transition into Para-powerlifting from other sports. The data will help researchers gain a better understanding of the technical components needed to maximise bench press performance and whether these components differ based upon biological sex as well as athletes with a spinal cord lesion compared to athletes with a lower limb amputation.

A team of researchers led by Dylan Poulus from Southern Cross University will collaborate with Federation University, UTAS and the University of Groningen in partnership with Guinevere Capital to learn what factors contribute to a successful performance in Esports and develop a model for future success. The team will work with key stakeholders and emerging athletes to identify these key factors so that athletes are better prepared for future international competitions.

Coaching Science:

Cristina Caperchione and a team of researchers from the University of Technology Sydney will work in collaboration with researchers from Victoria University, Cricket NSW and Gymnastics Australia in partnership with Swimming Australia, Athletics Australia and NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) to develop practical strategies and guidelines to help Australian high performance coaches better identify, manage and support athletes with their mental health and wellbeing.

Sports Performance Optimisation:

Phillip Bellinger and a team of researchers from Griffith University, Ghent University in Belgium, the University of Technology Sydney and Mermaid Beach Radiology will work in partnership with the Queensland Academy of Sport, South Australian Sports Institute and AusCycling to create a non-invasive technique which estimates the muscle typology of elite athletes. This technique will allow coaches and support staff to gain a better understanding of the athlete’s muscle data and adjust individual training programs to achieve better performance outcomes.

Researchers from Southern Cross University, led by Associate Professor Christian Swann will collaborate with researchers from the University of Canberra and the University of Wollongong in partnership with Athletics Australia to deliver leading research on how to achieve optimal performance through identifying and improving athlete’s mental performance during competition.

Practice Enhancement:

Andrew Govus from La Trobe University will lead a team of researchers in collaboration with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) to create a central library of sport specific data to be used for educational purposes. The project will allow sport scientists to have better access to the latest data and best practice guidelines to inform evidence-based strategies aimed at improving athlete performance.

Amelia Carr and Helen Brown from Deakin University will collaborate with researchers from Athletics Australia, Victorian Institute of Sport and Paddle Australia, and partner organisations Athletics Australia, Rowing Australia, Paralympics Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee to use ‘implementation science’ to better understand the essential requirements for athletes and coaches to adopt the findings of evidence-based research into heat preparation strategies for athletes competing in major championship events in hot-weather conditions. While the current project will focus on the implementation of research findings aimed at reducing the harmful effects of acute heat exposure as the target research for translation, their work will pave the way for more optimal research implementation strategies into high performance environments more broadly.

Marion Mundt from the University of Western Australia will collaborate with researchers from Athletics Australia in partnership with NSWIS to develop a virtual assessment tool aimed at improving athletes’ ideal body positions. The automated tool will capture a series of movements in 2D video and provide critical information to coaching staff and athletes on how to improve their high jump performance and prevent injuries.

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