University of Bath

PhD studentship: Influences on injury risk in youth gymnastics

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD studentship to support the work in our Department for Health alongside British Gymnastics

In elite sport, globally, it is common practice to group children by age for both training and competition. Children of the same age can, however, vary greatly in biological maturity, resulting in marked differences in size, shape and function. Individual variance in biological maturation has important implications for a range of outcomes including competitive equity, athletic development and injury risk.

The studentship

Does variability in biological maturation and training load influence injury risk in youth gymnasts?

Combining cross-sectional, prospective and mixed-methods designs, the proposed studentship will investigate the degree to which the pubertal growth spurt and training load interact to influence the risk of injury in youth gymnastics. The growth spurt has been recognized as a period of development where young athletes, and in particular gymnasts, appear to be at greater risk for the development of growth related and overuse injuries. Furthermore, gymnastics is a sport in which both training loads and overuse injury problems are anecdotally reported to be relatively high, especially for youth athletes, although there is currently a paucity of research on this topic.

An inter-disciplinary team consisting of leading specialists in the fields of growth and maturation, training load, injury, and applied practice will collaborate with British Gymnastics to better identify and understand the factors that contribute towards injury during the pubertal growth spurt in gymnastics. Particular attention will be paid to:

  1. The extent to which training intensity, volume, and type influence injury risk during the pubertal growth spurt;
  2. The extent to which late maturing gymnasts may be at greater risk of injury due to the growth spurt occurring at a later age when training load and intensity is typically greater; and
  3. The development of strategies that will enable British Gymnastics to better manage training load and reduce injury risk during the growth spurt.

The student will be based with British Gymnastics at the Lilleshall Training Centre and conduct their research under the supervision of Dr Sean Cumming, Dr Sean Williams (University of Bath) and Louise Fawcett (British Gymnastics and English Institute of Sport).

Funding requirements

To be considered for this funding you should:

  • fulfil the entrance requirements for a Department for Health PhD
  • Have at least a strong understanding of sports injury, training load, growth and maturation, and associated research methods (including quantitative and qualitative methodologies). We are particularly interested to hear from those with a background in sport or health psychology.

The award

If successful, you will be supported for three years full time. This includes:

  • a £14,553 (2017/8 rate) per year stipend
  • Home/EU tuition fees
  • an annual Training Support Grant

How to apply

You should apply online to study for a full-time PhD in Health. You must quote the project title (Does variability in biological maturation and training load influence injury risk in youth gymnasts?) on your application.

You should also provide a brief outline of your initial thoughts on the area of research as part of your online application. This should be no more than 500 words.

Please note that the application form will refer to a formal proposal. As this studentship is to work on a specific project, there is no need to write a formal proposal.

See guidance on how to make an application


The closing date for the receipt of applications is 12.00 noon (GMT), Monday 11 December 2017.

Potential interviews are preliminarily scheduled for the week starting January 8 2018.

Informal enquiries

Enquiries regarding the project should be addressed to:

Dr Sean Cumming
Telephone: 01225386251