man sitting in a chair with heart monitoring equipment attached to him linked to computers and doctors standing around him

Sport and Human Performance

Sport and Human Performance is a research theme within the Centre for Sport, Excerise and Life Sciences.

Focus of our research

Research and support work within this theme focuses on advancing human performance, tolerance and safety in sports, recreation, educational, occupational and exploration settings.

We directly address sport performance through applying needs analysis techniques and using a range of individual, multi or interdisciplinary nutritional, physiological, biomechanical and/or psychological interventions across the spectrum of recreational to elite athletes.

Our occupational based work (led by our Occupational and Environmental Physiology Group; OEPG) is informed by undertaking job task analysis alongside brokering scientific knowledge with clients to define, address, inform and develop bespoke solutions to specific research questions.

We have extensive experience of monitoring a multitude of performance and training responses, evaluating interventions, undertaking training studies, talent identification and evaluating and developing sports equipment in collaboration with amateur and professional individual’s, sports clubs, governing bodies and industry.

Across our staff base we have experience of working with a range of sporting and sports and exercise related organisations including, English Institute of SportUK Strength and Conditioning AssociationGB RowingBritish CyclingWASPS RFCCoventry City FCWest Bromwich Albion FCDecathlon, sports drinks producers, and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee. In addition, we support individual athletes and sports teams when preparing for (e.g. training and acclimation) and whilst competing in a multitude of events including the Marathon des Sables and Race Across America.

Our highly expert, adaptable and multidisciplinary team enable us to operate effectively across the continuum of human performance within field and laboratory based settings.

If you wish to find out more about our research, please get in contact with Dr Doug Thake.

Vision statement

Our vision: To advance performance, tolerance, safety and well-being in sports, occupational, and exploration settings across the life course.

Mission statement

Our mission: To advance performance, tolerance, safety and well-being in sports, occupational, and exploration settings across the life course.

Key researchers

Name Title Email
Dr Doug Thake Associate Professor (Human Physiology), Theme Lead
Dr Neil Clarke Research Associate 
Dr Tom Cullen Research Fellow 
Dr Sarah Davey Research Fellow 
Professor Rob James Research Associate 
Dr Ben Lee Assistant Professor (Occupational and Thermal Physiology) 
Dr Martyn Morris Research Associate 
Dr Sam Oxford Research Associate 
Dr Mike Price Associate Professor (Exercise Physiology) 
Maximilan Wdowski  ASPiRE Fellow 

Occupational & Environmental Physiology Group

The Occupational and Environmental Physiology Group (OEPG) is a new, dynamic and rapidly evolving applied research group with vast collective experience of delivering field and laboratory based projects for the military, first responders, industry and elite sport to name but a few.

Led by Dr Doug Thake (Associate Professor) alongside two additional full-time staff, Dr Ben Lee (Assistant Professor) and Dr Sarah Davey (Research Fellow), we have four fully funded PhD studentships (starting January 2021) in the area of Personal Protective Equipment from first responders and hospital based health care workers through to the military.

We benefit from collaborative links with world-leading experts in the field of occupational and thermal physiology.

Our fundamental approach is to tailor our science to optimise potential outcomes that influence real world practice. Our clients benefit from our skill and experience in brokering core scientific ideas and principles to understand and refine questions, and evolve appropriate solutions.

Our work has impacted on and informed real-life bespoke solutions for clients including NP aerospaceUnited Shield InternationalJaguar Land RoverHM Prison ServiceYouth Justice BoardGore-texDecathlon and Ministry of Defence. Aligned to this, we have successfully developed numerous job task simulations across a range of activities (e.g. explosives ordnance disposal, nuclear decommissioning and the police national ambulance resilience unit (NARU) hazardous area response teams) in order to answer questions on, amongst other things, safe wear times for operators wearing personal protective equipment and the impact of various cooling systems in various environmental conditions.

Furthermore, we have experience in developing and validating physical employment standards in specific military employment roles. Accordingly our work has influenced and informed working guidelines, standard operating procedures and policy changes to improve safety on a local and national level.

Demonstrating our ability to operate effectively with a range of clients, our team has also worked closely with elite athletes and sporting organisations including association football academies, English Institute of Sport, and Great Britain Rowing, as well as regularly providing support to prepare athletes for extreme ultra-endurance events such as the Race Across America and the Marathon des Sables.

Our research facilities at Coventry University are world class. The current environmental chamber enables thermal conditions to be controlled between 10°C and 40°C, and up to 8750m altitude. Amongst other things this has enabled us to collaborate with the British Military to test personnel before and after Antarctic Expeditions (e.g. Spear17 and Exercise Ice Maidens). We are currently remodelling our facility to increase the space by 50% and achieve a temperature range from -30 to 50°C (available February 2021).

As well as our expertise in performance and whole body physiological measures, we have access to a range of biochemical assay techniques. This supports our research interests around biological adaptation to environmental stressors at a molecular, cellular and whole body level. A key area being our work on cross-acclimation and cross-tolerance between stressors (heat and hypoxia) in humans; work that has potential implication for clinical intervention, military deployment and athletic performance.

The OEPG is a progressive group of applied Human Physiologists, who are able to apply and adapt a methodological approach and skill set to address and solve challenging real life questions and issues, with a focus on optimising human performance alongside health and safety.

Current work includes an evaluation and assessment of thermal strain in NHS workers wearing PPE in the COVID-19 era, and evaluation of a liquid cooling system specifically for use under the Olympia explosives ordnance disposal suit (United Shield International). 

We design and conduct innovative applied human based investigations that positively impact performance, productivity and health and safety through influencing policy and operational procedure.

Dr Doug Thake
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023