High Performance Sport Research Centre Update

WAIS | Published: Mon 9 July 2018

The High Performance Sport Research Centre is a collaborative partnership between WAIS and the University of Western Australia (UWA) aimed at providing WAIS sport programs with evidence-based, innovative solutions to performance-driven questions via uncompromised, high quality research.


The centre currently has eight research scholars working on projects at WAIS in 2018. Six of those team members are PhD candidates, whilst the other two are working on their honours dissertation.


Below, Research Centre Director Pete Peeling has provided a brief summary of the group’s current research activities:

  • Timing of iron consumption for optimal absorption: defining best practice. Rachel McCormick

Currently, Rachel is exploring the best timing strategy for the consumption of iron supplements in iron depleted athletes. Specifically, she is investigating the efficacy of consuming a daily oral iron supplement, as compared to an alternate day approach. The theory is that a greater rate of iron absorption may be attainable on the alternate day strategy, primarily a result of hormone profiles and gut absorption. Hopefully this work will help refine our current approach to the problem of iron deficiency in athlete populations.

  • Ischemic pre-conditioning prior to competition. Henry Brown

Henry has recently completed a study that shows an athlete’s body composition and anthropometry can be used to accurately individualise the pressure needed to invoke an ischemic pre-conditioning (IPC) response. This IPC involves temporary blood flow restriction, which is being used as a ‘priming’ strategy prior to competition in order to enhance performance. Henry’s work shows that, as with most things, individuals all respond quite differently to the IPC approach, and that we should be attempting to apply a bespoke strategy for each athlete.

  • Dietary manipulation, iron metabolism and immune responses. Alannah McKay

Alannah has been working in a collaborative research program with the AIS nutrition team, led by Professor Louise Burke. Alannah’s recent work has been looking at the impact of ketogenic diets on athlete health outcomes, relevant to immune function and iron status in endurance athletes (specifically race walkers). Some early indications may suggest that extreme macronutrient changes in the diet, which include the exclusion of carbohydrates, may not be a great idea for athletes. However, we look forward to the full analysis of these results.

  • Training prescription methods in flat-water sprint kayaking. Cruz Hogan

Cruz has been exploring the use of new technology in the sport of sprint kayaking. Specifically, he has investigated the use of paddles that measure power output. In an attempt to take lab testing outcomes into the field (or on the water, that is), Cruz has found that it’s likely a coach’s prescribed power instructions to their athletes, may not actually represent the power they achieve. As a result, Cruz’s work will help to ensure the specificity of training in this sport can be optimised.

  • Optimising training load in sprint cycling. Shannon Connolly

Shannon has recently joined our team from the Scottish Institute of Sport where he has worked with swimming and athletics programs. Currently, Shannon is exploring the details of a variety of project ideas that will determine the impact of fatigue in sprint cycling, with the ultimate goal to optimise training load and periodisation.

  • Intermittent hypoxic training and altitude exposure. Myles Dennis

As with Shannon, Myles is another recent addition to our team as a new PhD scholar in 2018. Myles is currently generating a proposal to investigate the best use protocols of the WAIS altitude facilities in the swimming program. The combination of hot and hypoxic environments will form the basis of his research questions, with the ultimate goal to impact athlete adaptation.

  • Gelatin and collagen synthesis. Theodore Kenworthy-Groen

Theodore is one of two honours scholars in 2018. Theodore has been looking at nutritional strategies to enhance markers of collagen synthesis in the WAIS hockey squad, which may become a potential nutritional strategy to assist in building soft tissue strength.

  • Load monitoring in training and competition. Sophie Watt

Sophie is also a 2018 honours scholar, and her work is focused on the current methods of assessing hockey player training workload using the session-RPE method. Sophie is looking to explore the differences in load assessment (using both session RPE and GPS technology) between training and competition environments in order to ensure that WAIS processes of load monitoring are adequate, and reflective of outcome.


Recent Research Papers with a contribution from WAIS

Below are a list of publications that members of the WAIS research team have recently been involved in:

1. IOC consensus on supplement us in sport. Dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 52(7):439-455, 2018. Link to Paper.

2. Jones MJ, Dunican IC, Murray K, Peeling P, Dawson B, Halson S, Miller J, Eastwood PR. The Psychomotor Vigilance Test: A comparison of different test durations in elite athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences. Accepted and In Press, 2018. Link to Abstract.

3. Burke LM, Peeling P. Methodologies for investigating performance changes with supplement use. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. 28(2):159-169, 2018. Link to Paper.

4. Peeling P, Binnie MJ, Goods PSR, Sim M, Burke LM. Evidence-based supplements for the enhancement of athletic performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. 28(2):178-187, 2018. Link to Paper.

5. Jones MJ, Peeling P, Dawson B, Halson S, Miller J, Dunican I, Clarke M, Goodman C, Eastwood P. Evening electronic device use: The effects on alertness, sleep and next-day physical performance in athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences. 36(2): 162-170, 2018. Link to Abstract.

6. Brown H, Binnie MJ, Dawson B, Bullock N, Scott BR, Peeling P. Factors affecting occlusion pressure and ischemic preconditioning. European Journal of Sport Science. 18(3):387-396, 2018. Link to Abstract.


WAIS Research In Focus

Check out our summary slide from one of the 2017 honours projects completed in conjunction with UWA by one of our former research scholars, Allister Gomes. Allister investigated the potential benefits of using ultrasound technology to measure body composition in WAIS athletes. Allister’s results found that the new technology was no better than our current methods; an outcome which has helped in the decision-making process around best practice and new equipment expenses at WAIS.