The Welsh Institute of Performance Science (WIPS) is led by Swansea University in collaboration with academic partners (Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan and University of South Wales) conducting multi-disciplinary, world-leading, applied performance science projects that enhance the performance of Welsh athletes and businesses. It is a three-way partnership between Sport Wales, Wales’ leading academic sport scientists and relevant industry partners.
Welsh Institute of Performance Science
WIPS conducts high impact research in line with Sport Wales strategies, encouraging and maximising the latest research, innovation and technology to help enhance the performance of our nation’s athletes.
A significant strength of WIPS is the relationships created with industry and academia in the areas of sport science, medicine, science and engineering to develop, test and deliver innovations that have performance benefits within elite sport and wider domains such as health and medicine.
This is coordinated through the strategic management board and research steering group containing recognised specialists in Sport Science and Medicine; specifically coaching science, nutrition, strength and conditioning, performance physiology, youth sport, environmental physiology, sports medicine, biomechanics, performance analysis, Data Science, Talent ID and transfer, physiotherapy, disability sport, athlete health and wellbeing, sports ethics governance and integrity and psychology, and in conjunction with the Sport Wales Institute and national governing bodies.
The research is supported by Sport Wales and Welsh Government grants.
“Collaborating with the Welsh Institute of Performance Science allows us to tap into a strong academic community in Wales to create practical solutions to help our athletes excel on the world stage,” Brian Davies, Sport Wales' Director of Elite Sport.
Examples of support provided by Welsh Institute of Performance Science
Working in collaboration with the wider network of specialists has already impacted positively on Wales’ sporting success.
- The Blizzard Jacket, first worn by Welsh athletes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, was designed to reduce heat loss of muscles to increase readiness for competition. While a warm-up is a staple part of an athlete's routine, the time before an event starts can see a significant loss of heat that can reduce muscle power and increase the risk of injury. Sports science experts from Swansea University worked with Sport Wales and Welsh-based company Blizzard Protection Systems Ltd to develop the jackets and tackle the problem.
- Working with Wales’ weightlifters ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, individualised stress management techniques helped to promote health and wellbeing among lifters and coaches. Gareth Evans – who won Wales’ first gold at the Games - used his breathing technique to enhance recovery during pre-competition training and to aid post competition sleep. At least three members of the team performed personal best lifts at the Games.
- WIPS stepped in to tackle the issue of taper blues among Wales’ elite swimmers in 2016. It became clear that the swimmers felt anxious during the taper period. The taper period is when an athlete reduces their training volume but maintains training intensity prior to a competition. Fears that the taper period was not working meant that athletes were not able to perform at their best. Practical guides were produced to help swimmers and coaches understand the best ways to approach the taper period. Emotion-focussed strategies were also provided to counteract any negative feelings.
- With temperatures predicted to exceed 30°C at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, WIPS members assisted with preparations to manage the heat. Developed by Prof. Neil Walsh and colleagues at Bangor University (including Sam Oliver, Environmental Physiology advisor to WIPS), hot baths after exercise have been shown to be an effective method to acclimatize to the heat. A strength of the hot baths is that they are more practical than conventional heat acclimation strategies that require athletes to either train in an environmental chamber or travel to a hot country to train. After subsequent demonstration and trials of the hot bath strategy with elite runners, Sport Wales adopted the strategy as part of athlete preparations for the Commonwealth Games, including medal winning race walker Bethan Davies.
The future of the Welsh Institute of Performance Science
WIPS aims to further develop sport science in Wales, train future sport scientists, enhance the application of science in Welsh sports, and increase collaboration between Welsh sport, academia and business.
To continue improving Wales’ Commonwealth Games performance and to increase the number of Welsh athletes winning medals at Olympic and Paralympic Games there is a need to match and exceed the performance research capacity of competitors in other nations.
How to get involved
Are you a business or academic who can help our athletes to perform even better?
If so, please get in touch:
Professor Liam Kilduff
School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
+44 (01792) 513441