Celebrating 40 years of Sports Science

Image of 40 years of Sports Science logo

The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences has been at the forefront of innovation and development in sport science since its inception in 1975. LJMU was the first institution in the world to host a single honours programme in sport science, founded and led by former Olympic basketball player Dr Vaughan Lancaster-Thomas. Vaughan was joined in his quest by Tom Reilly and Frank Sanderson. Now in its 40th year, the School of Sport and Exercise Science is the top sport and exercise science department in the country according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Vaughan Lancaster-Thomas, commented on the 40 year anniversary:

“As a physical educator, I dreamed of providing the first academic sports course in the UK. Fresh from my own sports science PhD (a UK first for a physical educator) in 1971, Liverpool gave me that opportunity.

“With finance from John Moores in 1972 I established a sports science lab, and appointed Tom Reilly as research assistant for a three year project with Everton FC. That was the beginning of the present wonderful research programme. For me, that was the founding of the course - about which I am most proud, with great assistance from Frank Sanderson, who joined us in 1973, and Tom Reilly who joined the teaching team when he finished his thesis in 1975. Thanks increasingly to those two, the course took off as the basis of the present wonderful teaching program. The rest is history!”

Image of PhD student doing fitness analysisProfessor Dave Richardson, Director of the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences said:

“The School operates across a range of domains that include a cellular, molecular and medical orientation, through to an understanding of more behavioural, personal and humanistic existence; from early years through to later years and from health through to performance environments. In all of these domains we are committed to making a difference by enhancing the lives of others.” 

Since Vaughan Lancaster-Thomas and Tom Reilly set up the first PhD in Applied Science and Football based at Everton Football Club, LJMU has worked consistently in bringing sport science to the game through match analysis and education.

The Football Exchange based within the School works with the Premier League and football governing bodies including Manchester United, Liverpool Football Club, The FA and Read Madrid, to deliver high quality research-informed solutions to real-world problems in football. Many professional footballers also choose to study at LJMU following their careers. This includes Chris McCready, former professional at Crewe Alexandra, Tranmere and Morecambe who is studying for a Masters at LJMU. 

Kevin Keegan OBE, Liverpool FC legend, international footballer, and former manager of the England National football team is using sport science support for his SOKKA initiative. SOKKA provides an opportunity to play and enjoy football, irrespective of age, gender, background or football ability. It has a key focus on health and wellbeing, with a particular emphasis on preventing obesity in young people.

The School’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES) covers a range of research areas from childhood obesity, performance analysis and injury prevention, through to learning via imitation in autism. Some other recent highlights include:
Olympian, world-renowned sports scientist and physical activity expert from the Cardiovascular Health Sciences research group, Professor Greg Whyte OBE, celebrates his new book 'Achieve the Impossible’, which features the Sport Science behind his iconic Comic Relief and Sport Relief challenges achieved by the likes of David Walliams, Eddie Izzard, Davina McCall and Dermot O’Leary, using many of the latest sport science developments. LJMU Honorary Fellow and comedian John Bishop also trained with Greg for his five-day challenge cycling, rowing and running from Paris to London. He had this message for the School of Sport and Exercise Science on its 40th birthday.

Move More, Sit Less, Everyday. The Physical Activity Exchange (PAEx) is leading a pioneering health revolution through encouraging cycling and standing in the office. The Exchange is promoting the benefits of adjustable desk units and desk cycles to reduce sedentary behaviour, combat obesity and prevent several chronic diseases linked to premature death caused by low rates of physical activity. 

The School collaborates with key partners on award-winning public engagement projects including CBBC, Commonwealth Games, Universities UK, Girls Schools Association, Comic Relief and Sport Relief through our Face2Face with Sport Science programme. It also holds partnerships and collaborations with industry partners focused on exercise, health and physical activity, including local and national hospitals and schools, and organisations committed to health promotion and positive behaviour change.

To follow LJMU’s 40th anniversary celebrations go to www.ljmu.ac.uk/sport40 Twitter @LJMUSportSci #sportsci40 
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