Podium Analytics ('Podium') - the NGO and charity established by former CEO and Chairman of the McLaren Technology Group, Ron Dennis CBE, committed to reducing injury in sport - has announced a partnership with the University of Bath to undertake a two-year research project aimed at better understanding and managing adolescent growth (known as growth spurt) in relation to youth sport health.
The growth spurt is a process that uniquely affects 11 to 18-year-olds and is consistently identified as a period that puts young people at increased risk of sport injury. Work is being undertaken at elite level and in well-resourced schools and clubs to address this issue, but little is currently delivered, or often known, at grassroots level.
Podium and leading academics and practitioners at the University of Bath - including Professor Sean Cumming and Dr Sean Williams who both have a strong track record for applied sports science - aim to bring the proven processes and protocols that exist in elite pathways into the school and grassroots sports environment.
The partnership will improve the practical knowledge and confidence of teachers and coaches at all levels to recognise and manage the growth spurt and its challenges through the provision of guidance and information that has previously only been accessible at elite level. There is a further opportunity to develop readily available guidance that will help young people recognise the signs of growth spurt and listen to their bodies to prevent injury, and to give parents insight into what their children are experiencing.
Read more about the partnership in this exclusive big read article for the 'i'.
Andy Hunt, CEO of Podium Analytics, said: “We are excited to launch this collaborative project with the University of Bath that unlocks the potential to fully understand and address the crucial issue of growth spurt and its link with youth injury.
“It’s our shared motivation to improve the current lack of knowledge and gulf in provision between elite and grassroots levels and provide those in the youth sport system the information, knowledge and practical tools that they need to confidently identify and manage the growth spurt, and help young people avoid preventable injuries.”
Sean Cumming, Professor in Paediatric Exercise Science at the University of Bath, said: “This is a fantastic project that will address one of the most pressing, but often overlooked, issues in youth sport health.
"Working with Podium, we want to deliver the knowledge, guidance and protocols that ensure all young people – not just those in performance pathways – benefit from fairer opportunities in sport through better identification, assessment and management of growth spurt, more appropriate training and the consistent management of injury risk.”
Amy Williams MBE, former British skeleton racer, Olympic gold medallist, University of Bath alumnae, University Honorary Graduate and Podium Athlete Ambassador, added: “It’s about time the information that’s been shaping sport at elite levels becomes available at grassroots level.
“Speaking from my own experience of injury at a young age, it’s so important that the coaches, teachers and parents have the information and tools to be able to help support young people through this critical stage of growth. I can’t wait to see how this project develops.”
Watch Amy talk about her career and experience of injury for Podium
Dr Sean Williams, Amy Williams MBE and Professor Sean Cumming on campus at the University of Bath.
The two-year partnership between Podium and the University of Bath aims to improve knowledge and appropriate training provision for school staff and coaches that will reduce injury, better evaluate pupils’ physical ability and help young players reach their true potential.
Through the partnership the team will:
- Develop and implement appropriate policy and guidance for the measurement of growth and maturation in secondary school pupils.
- Develop educational materials and sessions for teachers on the prevention and identification of growth-related injuries in youth and how to provide developmentally appropriate training through the growth spurt.
- Support schools, clubs and pathways that are using Podium’s injury management platform, who will eventually benefit from an additional growth and maturation module that enables the predication, assessment and management of growth spurt.
The University’s Sean Cumming, Professor in Paediatric Exercise Science, and Sean Williams, Senior Lecturer in Applied Statistics and Research Methods, will be leading this project. Both are also involved with the new International Olympic Committee Research Centre based at the universities of Edinburgh and Bath that will focus on injury prevention in sport, drawing on long-standing research expertise in this area from both institutions.
Dr Polly McGuigan, Head of the Department for Health, said: “This collaboration with ‘Podium’ marks another important milestone in the development of sports science research at the University of Bath. Our approach has always been to deliver research which can be applied and have impact – at whatever level. We are really excited about the prospects for this partnership in furthering those aims.”
Professor Deborah Wilson, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, added: “Our already well-established track record for delivering research with impact when it comes to sports science will be boosted significantly through this new partnership with Podium. We look forward to working closely with them as part of this project to understand and manage adolescent growth in relation to youth sports.”