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Grant: High performance sport as a model for the acquisition, retention and retraining of an individual’s skill base

Closing date: 10 Aug 2011

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) launched a research highlight 'High Performance Sport as a model for the acquisition, retention and retraining of an individual's skill base' on the 26th May. A BBSRC highlight is a call within its normal responsive mode round intended to attract proposals into a specific area of research, and is akin to a one-off priority. The Highlight is being run in association with UK Sport with the intention being to support the UKs commitment to the 2012 Olympics and provide legacy support for future elite UK athletes.

BBSRC and UK Sport wish to encourage basic research on understanding the biological and psychological basis of skill learning and retention. This will address issues of common interest such as the improved maintenance of an individual's skills base and lead to improved training methodologies for elite athletes.

The highlight covers three broad challenges identified by BBSRC and UK Sport that should be addressed to further understand skill in both high performing athletes and the wider population throughout the lifecourse:

*         How does cognitive capability interact with the social and physical environment to influence the development of skill and expertise, and are there markers for skill acquisition?

*         What cognitive and psychological factors facilitate an individual's ability to maintain a high level of performance, and what affects an individual's resilience?

*         How do we optimise the retention, as well as the learning and retraining of skills by an individual to maximise the performance and flexibility of their skill base?

Understanding how skills are learnt, developed, applied, maintained and changed over time is important both to top athletes and the wider population more generally. Elite athletes need to both maintain a wide range of skills, and have the ability to acquire new ones during the course of their athletic careers. Understanding how elite athletes are able acquire and retain their skills will inform on the broader population as it faces the prospect of longer working lives and the continued introduction of new technologies within the home, work, and wider environments. We are hoping research will lead to improvements in athlete training and retraining, but also have important impacts on a public level with improved understanding of learning and retraining across the life course.

To promote a multidisciplinary approach, this Highlight is also being supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) who will provide co-funding on applications where relevant.

A one day Town Meeting will be held on the 5 July. The meeting will provide more detailed information and an opportunity for researchers to discuss ideas with the Research Councils, UK Sport and potential collaborators.

Further Information:

Contact Details: Simon Kerley tel: 01793 414654 fax: 01793 413234

Posted on 10/06/2011

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