News & Comment / Performance

Annual Conference of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Richard Davison PhD

Department of Sport and Exercise Science Faculty of Science, University of Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 3JU, United Kingdom. Email:

Sportscience 4(1),, 2000 (771 words)
Reviewed by Greg Atkinson PhD, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK


This year's conference of the Annual Conference of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) was held 29 August through 1 September in Liverpool at Liverpool John Moores University. The abstracts will be published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, normally in the January of February issue. The website for the conference has abstracts/summaries of the workshops and invited speakers. Overall it was a great conference, thanks to the high quality of the presentations and the hard work of Don MacLaren, Adrian Lees and the rest of the organizing committee. Here is my review, admittedly biased towards my interests.

The keynote speakers I enjoyed most were David Poole (Kansas State University) and Mary Neville (Loughborough University). David Poole's talk entitled "The dynamics of O2 exchange: who's pulling, who's pushing?" was an excellent summary of the current debate on the role of oxygen supply for muscular contraction. He argued that the slower oxygen kinetics of diseased individuals leads to a greater oxygen deficit and therefore more rapid muscle fatigue than in healthy individuals. David also presented data from state-of-the-art technologies that allow measurement of oxygen exchange across the exercising muscles of humans, at the microcirculatory level in animals, and within individual muscle fibers. He also showed video footage of a new technique that allows viewing of blood flow through a muscle capillary bed in a live animal in real time. This technique opens up the possibility of comparing blood flow in different diseased states or after interventions. The difficulty with the technique is the fact that, with the large magnification required, slight movements in the tissue makes it difficult to track the same capillaries.

In "Muscle metabolism and performance during sprinting", Mary Neville outlined the work that she and others from Loughborough have done over the last 20 or more years. They have been interested in the metabolic demands of repeated sprinting activity--the type of activity in team sports like hockey and football. Relatively little research has been carried out by others in this area. Their work of correcting for the changes in the angular kinetics of the flywheel during cycle ergometer sprinting, the development of the non-motorized treadmill, and the development of the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test have greatly advanced the methodology of performance assessment for repeated sprints. Mary also described a variety of metabolic measurements, mainly from muscle biopsies, that they now take to describe the metabolic demands of different types of sprinting activity.

On the last day of the conference a special workshop on the physiological testing of cyclists featured Gary Palmer, Greg Atkinson and Asker Jeukendrup. The focus of the workshop was the interpretation of laboratory-based tests and their relationship to competitive performance up to the level of Tour de France cyclists. Their data demonstrated the difficulty of simulating the demands of road racing in the lab, and there was discussion on what type of tests could be used to determine ability for road racing. Greg Atkinson presented data supporting David Swain's model for optimum pacing strategy in time trials. This strategy involves riding at a higher intensity into the wind and at a lower intensity with the wind. A simulation on an indoor ergometer demonstrated some benefit from riding harder into a headwind when it was in the first half of the course. Asker Jeukendrup shared data from European professional riders illustrating the demands of this level of competition. He also illustrated the problems many of these riders have in trying to maintain energy balance during the long tours.

Another excellent workshop was "Physiology of Intermittent Activity/Games: Practical Issues", with contributions from Michael Hughes on badminton, Polly Davey on tennis, Damon Brown on squash, and Barry Drust on soccer. Each of the contributors had developed innovative testing and monitoring procedures with their respective sports at the top level. It was interesting to note that, after some initial reluctance, each of the sport governing bodies was now more reliant on the services of these sport scientists.

Edited and webmastered by Will Hopkins
Published Sept 2000.