Enhancing athletic performance
As part of her role as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sarah Whitehead works as Head of Athletic Performance and Development for Leeds Rhinos Netball. In a guest blog below, she outlines how she has worked to enhance athletic performance at the club.
My role at Leeds Beckett University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow involves applied work as the Head of Athletic Performance and Development for Leeds Rhinos Netball. This involves working within the performance playing pathway to aid in the physical preparation and development of the athletes with the aim of enhancing athletic performance, reducing the risk of injury and encouraging prolonged participation in the sport. This includes the delivery of strength and conditioning sessions to the elite squads and the management of sport science provision across the pathway working with coaches to ensure optimal development from the Under 13 Academies to the Under 19 Netball Performance League squad, as well as providing education to parents and coaches on how they can best support the female athlete. It has been fantastic working with Leeds Rhinos Netball since its establishment in 2017. Seeing its rapid growth to be granted the England Netball Pathway for Yorkshire in 2018 and granted a franchise to join the Vitality Netball Superleague from 2021 - I look forward to seeing its continued development and impact in women and girls sport.
Alongside the growth of Leeds Rhinos Netball, there has been a significant increase in the number of women playing netball following the success of the England Roses in the 2018 Commonwealth games. Despite this growth in participation and recent rise in research within female sport, research into the sport of netball is still lacking. In my new role with Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Rhinos Netball I look forward to carrying out research in netball focusing on training load quantification and management, fatigue and recovery and match characteristics, to help coaches and sport science staff plan and deliver training effectively, reduce the risk of injury and help the game grow further.