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  • Publication
    An investigation of professional practice and practitioner development in applied sports performance analysis
    (University College Dublin. School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, 2022) ;
    Applied Performance Analysts (PAs) are increasingly seen as professional practitioners in the sports performance industry, providing stakeholders with support in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and translation of performance data. The role is relatively new and evolving at a pace which is not supported by the ‘normal’ trappings of professional practice such as demonstrable theoretical and practical expertise, guides for practice, organisation and regulation. This thesis leverages the learning accrued from the literature in applied PA, interactions with elite applied practitioners and academics in the field, and from the design of a practitioner development pathway to conceptualise the role of an applied PA and consider how best to support the development of the profession. The aim of the thesis was to understand professional practice in applied PA and explore how best to support practitioners in their professional development. A dual approach was applied to the investigative process. The first was a traditional research approach as a framework analysis of nearly twenty years of applied PA literature was employed to identify the components of professional practice and expertise which underpinned these. This framework was validated through a series of focus group interviews with elite applied PAs and experienced academics and additionally captured their perspectives on applied practice and the profession. The second approach was of participatory action research which saw the design, implementation and evaluation of an accreditation and practitioner development programme delivered in partnership with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). This research conceptualises and defines the applied PA role, identifying the components of practice and the expertise required at a level of minutia which can act as a guide, an audit tool and a platform for further research. It is the first comprehensive discussion of applied PA as a profession, focusing on the challenges it faces in the absence of robust professional infrastructure, and the opportunity to reimagine and rebrand the role. It also reports how action research can support the development of an applied PA community of practice and accreditation process, through a practitioner development pathway.