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Koen Wintershoven: Small and large-sided conditioning games in rugby union

Originally from Belgium, Koen has a professional background in education, fitness, sports coaching and recreation. Some international experiences brought him back to New Zealand for a second time, to complete his PhD in Health, Sport, and Human Performance. In this doctoral project Koen combines elements of his BEd in Physical Education and MSc in Physical Education and Movement Sciences to investigate small-sided conditioning games in rugby union. He is supported in his research by supervisors Dr. Travis McMaster, Dr. Martyn Beaven, and Dr. Nic Gill.

Small-sided games (SSGs) are training formats used mainly in team sports, and especially the football codes, to concomitantly enhance conditioning, skill, as well as tactical and inter-personal performance. Koen’s study is aimed at clarifying the acute effects of design variables in SSGs on physiological, kinematic, and physical outcomes. For this, measurements are collected using microsensor devices (heart rate, gps, accelerometer, gyroscope), rating of perceived exertion, and injury incidence. The study tries to outline if the necessary stimuli for conditioning are in place when using SSGs, in function of match demands, for several levels of play.

Koen has been able to demonstrate this area is underdeveloped in rugby union, yet globally widely applied, in context-specific differentiated ways. Particularly on the youth level, significant progression is possible. Furthermore, a lack of structured approach and overall study quality in the body of knowledge has become evident through his research. The outcome will help inform practitioners and researchers to differentiate, and improve training efficacy in rugby union.

Koen enjoys helping others reach their full potential through teaching and coaching, and has a keen interest in everything strength and conditioning. Furthermore, he loves travelling, has a passion for the outdoors, and is an active runner and cyclist. Based at the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance in “the Mount”, he enjoys the kiwi lifestyle.