Sports conference showcases high calibre of Applied Sport research staff

Professor Emeritus Gary Hermansson was one of six College of Health staff invited to present at the New Zealand Sport Performance Conference.

Massey University was well represented at the New Zealand Sport Performance Conference held in Palmerston North last week, with six College of Health staff invited to present. Conference organiser Peter Finch highlighted the high calibre of these presenters, describing their talks as “both riveting and hugely worthwhile for the audience.”

The three-day event drew around 60 coaches and physical education teachers eager to learn more from some of New Zealand’s leading sport performance academics and professionals. The conference, held at Palmerston North Boys High School, reinforced the strong relationship between the school and Massey University, and helped promote Palmerston North as New Zealand’s foremost centre of sporting excellence, “Sport Central”.

Sport Manawatū chief executive and New Zealand’s deputy chef de mission for recent Olympic and Commonwealth Games Trevor Shailer discussed the challenges of creating a performance-based culture in a multi-sport event such as the Olympics.

Associate Professor Andy Martin’s presentation highlighted the need for coaches and teachers to “set great expectations”, facilitate and provide an environment promoting a catalyst for change. He also shared new research on the All Blacks’ team culture of “leading the legacy”.

Associate Professor Andy Martin presenting his work on developing collective leadership and team culture.

Team culture and leadership

Physical education lecturer Lana McCarthy shared her Master’s and PhD research findings on team culture and leadership in netball to demonstrate how a high performance culture and collective leadership can be developed in high schools.

Dr Paul Macdermid reflected on his experiences as an athlete, coach and sport science lecturer, concluding that sport performance requires a more holistic approach that considers the consequences of a participant’s longevity, enjoyment and fulfilment.

Affirming Dr Macdermid’s statements, Cycling New Zealand’s Kathryn Phillips said data from a review of high performance athletes at the Rio Olympics suggests a need to reconsider what metrics are truly meaningful and helpful in the pursuit of medals.

Associate Professor Leigh Signal reinforced the fundamental importance of sleep for athletes to achieve peak sporting performance. She discussed how coaches and athletes can better manage their performance through an understanding of the role of sleep and their biological clock.

Professor Emeritus Gary Hermansson drew on his personal experience as the New Zealand Olympic Team psychologist at recent Olympic and Commonwealth Games to explain the importance of managing the partnership of mind and body under pressure.

Professor Steve Stannard also pointed out that Arthur Lydiard’s training philosophy of a long conditioning phase followed by specific conditioning was still applicable today despite advances in sport science research.

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