WA High Performance Sport Research Centre


The WA High Performance Sport Research Centre aims to provide high performance sport programs at the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) with evidence-based, innovative solutions to performance-driven questions via uncompromised high quality research. The key intent of the Centre is to produce practical and applied research outcomes, which can subsequently be translated into the daily training environment of WAIS sport programs in order to optimise current practice and athlete success.


Objectives of the Centre


1. To undertake multidisciplinary, collaborative sport science research that provides evidence-based solutions to performance-driven questions with the aim of improving current practice in order to enhance athlete performance.

2. To develop research programs that align with, and contribute to the National Research Agenda of Australian Sport in the National Institute Network.

3. To undertake collaborative research projects that builds on the strong partnership between WAIS and the University of Western Australia, in addition to developing new collaborative relationships with all potential local, national and international partners.

4. To translate and integrate scientific research and support into the daily training environment of WAIS high performance sport programs.


Currently, the High Performance Sport Research Centre targets four priority research areas;


1. Training and Testing: Research aimed at the enhancement of training methodologies for athlete development in all areas relevant to building the foundation for optimal performance. This may also encompass research relevant to the development of testing protocols that assess an athlete’s current training status.

2. Competition and Performance: Research focussed specifically on improving or analysing performance during competitive events.

3. Injury and Illness: Research focussed on the mechanisms and prevention of injury and illness, with the aim of reducing training days lost to poor health.

4. Technology Development: Research undertaken with the aim of developing new technologies that may enhance performance or the ability to assess/analyse an athlete in the training and/or competition environment.


Some of the current research being conducted within the Centre is summarised below:


Current Research


The impact of electronic device use on sleep and performance in athletes

Maddison Jones, UWA/WAIS PhD Scholar

In collaboration with the Western Australian Institute of Sport, the Centre for Sleep Science at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the School of Human Sciences at UWA, Maddison has been investigating the effects of evening electronic device use (e.g. smartphones, tablets, laptops) on sleep and performance in athletes. Currently, the literature suggests that the light emitted from electronic devices may disrupt circadian rhythms and, as a result, impair sleep quality and/or quality. Furthermore, individuals may find the activities performed on electronic devices prior to sleep to be cognitively stimulating, which can increase alertness and delay the onset of sleep. Chronic sleep impairments can result in accumulated sleep loss, which can have detrimental effects on cognitive performance, mood, immune function and some aspects of physical performance. Due to the high prevalence of electronic device use in society, determining their potential impact on sleep will provide information on how athletes can optimise their sleep, and subsequently, their recovery and athletic performance.



Contemporary strategies for iron supplementation in athlete populations 

Rachel McCormick, UWA/WAIS PhD Scholar

Iron deficiency is a prominent health issue amongst athletes that can have a detrimental effect on sport performance. The iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin is known to reduce dietary iron absorption and recently has been shown to increase within 3-6 h following exercise. As such, Rachel’s research aims to establish the extent to which this transient rise in hepcidin impedes iron absorption during this post-exercise window. Rachel also intends to investigate various iron supplementation strategies, particularly around the timing, dosage and mode of iron ingestion, in an attempt to optimise an athlete’s ability to attain and conserve optimal iron status.In turn, this research aims to improve overall health, reduce the prevalence of ID and assist athletes in maintaining optimal iron stores. This research involves a collaborative partnership between The Western Australian Institute of Sport, The University of Western Australia, The Australian Institute of Sport, Triathlon Australia and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. 



Energetics and training in sprint kayaking 

Cruz Hogan, UWA/WAIS PhD Scholar

Current best practice in flat-water sprint kayaking for monitoring athlete progression in response to training involves the use of laboratory-based physiological testing protocols. However, literature suggests physiological and biomechanical discrepancies exist between ergometer and on-water performances. Further, current methods used to monitor and prescribe on-water training intensity, such as heart rate, rating of perceived exertion and stroke rate, may be influenced by the unpredictable environmental conditions experienced in this setting. In a series of studies, Cruz’s research will utilise new technologies to measure athlete power output and the metabolic contribution to on-water paddling in order to quantify intensity, irrespective of the prevailing environmental conditions. Combining these technologies to develop an on-water, kayak-specific power profile could allow sport scientists and coaches to identify individual athlete strengths and weaknesses, predict competition performances and demarcate meaningful improvements in kayak performance. Consequently, such outcomes could enable the development of more specific training interventions, periodisation schedules and talent identification protocols for elite sprint kayak athletes. Cruz’s research encompasses a collaboration between The Western Australian Institute of Sport and The University of Western Australia.


External Projects with the Australian Institute of Sport


The effect of carbohydrate manipulation on iron metabolism and immunology in athletes


Alannah McKay, AIS/UWA/WAIS PhD Scholar

A modern theme in sports nutrition for endurance athletes is to manipulate CHO availability around key training sessions to achieve a number of different goals. However, whilst these strategies may enhance training adaptation and potentially performance, the larger impact on athlete health is currently unknown. In partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport, The University of Western Australia and The Western Australian Institute of Sport, Alannah’s research will investigate how training with altered CHO availability, either acutely or chronically, may impact subsequent iron regulatory and immunological responses. The outcomes of this work will allow athletes to make informed decisions about when and how to periodise their CHO intake around key training sessions, which may be especially important for athletes prone to iron deficiency or illness.



Ischemic pre-conditioning for training and competition in sprint kayak

Henry Brown, AIS/UWA/WAIS PhD Scholar

Henry’s research is aimed at developing an optimised ischemic preconditioning (blood flow restriction) protocol to enhance the performance of elite kayak athletes during competition. Ischemic preconditioning is a technique that utilises a series of cycles of blood flow occlusion and reperfusion to the limbs prior to the start of exercise to elicit a protective mechanism which serves to increase blood flow, thereby improving oxygen extraction and utilisation in the working muscles. The exact mechanism underlying this process and the ideal methodology to elicit the greatest response is unclear; therefore, Henry aims to elucidate several of these important factors in order to develop a protocol that can reliably be used by elite athletes in competition to improve their performance. This project is a partnership between the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian Institute of Sport, working with the Australian Canoeing high performance sprint kayak program.


WA High Performance Sport Research Centre in the Media




For more information on the WA High Performance Sport Research Centre please contact Research Director, Dr Peter Peeling – ppeeling@wais.org.au


Principal Partnership


Current Local and National Collaborators


Current International Collaborators