Sport Performance

BTEC Sport pupils visit University of Essex

On Thursday 27 September, the BTEC Sport students of Year 12 took a visit to the University of Essex, located in Colchester. On arrival we were swiftly greeted by Kelly Murray who works in the Human Performance Unit (HPU) at the university.

In the first sports science laboratory Kelly discussed with us the work that goes on at the university with elite level athletes and what her roles and responsibilities are. Kelly is in charge of the HPU which involves training and testing athletes to enhance their sporting ability and improve their weaknesses. For example, NFL players will visit from the USA to be put on the university's HPU programmes to improve certain aspects of their performance. This could be from testing and improving agility, to testing and improving cardiovascular fitness.

Our first test of the day was the sub-maximal predictive V02 max. This included small groups where one volunteer from each group would cycle on a bike, not to their maximal ability, but using data from a heart rate monitor and power wattage output to determine their predicted V02 max. This activity was not maximal but we were able to make calculations and use the line of best fit to analyse their fitness levels.

We then went to another lab where the maximal oxygen consumption test was to take place. Our class volunteer for this testing was Hamish C. This involved Hamish running on a treadmill with a gas analyser which recorded his oxygen and carbon dioxide inhalation and exhalation, and also his pattern of breathing until he reached exhaustion. This was great fun to watch, but also to take part in as everyone had a responsibility. Dayaan was recording his heart rate after every two minutes and we were making sure he didn't step too far back on the treadmill when his legs started to fatigue to prevent him falling off. Hamish most definitely felt he had reached his limit once he was finished and was extremely out of breath, but was pleased he had done it once his heart rate was back to resting. From the information gathered we then analysed how his rates of breathing changed throughout the run, and how the amounts of gases he was exhaling and inhaling increased the further he went. His V02 max was recorded as 58.7 which puts him in the elite athlete category.

Our final task was the anaerobic Wingate test, which is a six second sprint on a bike to determine power output. This was enjoyable and there was definitely some competition among the atmosphere of the classmates. We then discussed and evaluated the validity and reliability of this fitness test. For example, one of the boys stood up on the bike when doing the six second sprint making the results unreliable compared to the rest of the class who remained seated during this test.

This trip was an extremely useful insight into sport science and benefited us as students as were able to apply this knowledge to our coursework and to understand more about how fitness testing works, also allowing us to see the key factors to it, e.g. validity and reliability. In addition we were able to apply the anatomy and physiology learnt, for example how Hamish used his intercostal muscles to increase his tidal volume and how his breathing rates changed which linked to the data results.

Overall, this was an extremely enjoyable trip that benefited the students and would definitely be a trip I recommend to students looking to take BTEC Sport in Sixth Form.

James H
Year 12