Use double quotes to find documents that include the exact phrase: "aerodynamic AND testing"

Young gymnasts are most at risk for growth-related and overuse injuries. Two risk factors of these types of injury are maturation and training load. Currently, little is known regarding coaching knowledge and practice related to these risks. This study examines coach knowledge and identifies gaps to help promote athlete safety.

Ensuring that athletes feel comfortable voicing their opinion (and have it considered and respected) is an important aspect of psychological safety in sport. A recent study of 379 athletes showed that those who felt they could be open with their coaches and teammates were more likely to feel psychologically safe, and to have a positive coach-athlete relationship.

Less research has focused on doping in Paralympic sport than Olympic sport. A recent study focused on Para sport coaches showed that they identify doping as an issue in Para sport and that it often stems from financial incentives and pressure to win.

Everyone knows to warm up before competing, but have you heard of “priming” beforehand? Priming is a round of non-tiring exercise that is done the day before or morning of a competition. Research shows priming may improve performance, as well as reduce athlete pre-competition stress.

Researchers have found that athletes who were identified as “flourishing” or maintaining wellbeing in university sport did so through managing commitments, communicating with coaches, looking for positives, reflection, and taking a break from sport. These results are strategies that may help promote and protect mental health among student-athletes.


Most of us have been in a situation where we have arrived at an outdoor sporting event only to find that the game has been cancelled or rescheduled due to lightning. But have you ever had the same thing happen because of air pollution? While there is a broad understanding of how to protect sport participants from environmental events like lightning, few people know what to do when the air quality is poor.

To fill this gap, the Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) and Health Canada partnered to create and share air quality resources, including an e-learning module, infographics and a policy guide, for outdoor sport stakeholders. In this SIRCuit article, we describe the partnership between SIRC and Health Canada, highlight key information about air pollution and the safety of outdoor sport participation, and outline strategies that sport stakeholders can implement to help protect sport participants from the harmful effects of air pollution.

Throughout the article, we have linked to resources to help you spread awareness and take action in your sport. Together we can clear the air around air quality and the safety of outdoor sport participation!

The partnership

In 2022, Health Canada engaged SIRC to support its initiatives focused on air quality and outdoor sport safety. Health Canada provided SIRC with financial and scientific support for the creation of educational resources and tools for sport organizations, including:

Health Canada and SIRC launched the eLearning module and supporting resources at the Ontario Soccer Summit in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 25, 2023. We will continue to share the resources developed through this partnership via an education and awareness campaign targeting organizations at all levels of sport.

The basics of air pollution

Air pollution is a mixture of chemical, physical and biological agents that contaminate indoor and outdoor environments (WHO, 2022). There are many different types of air pollutants. Some of the most harmful air pollutants to human health include:

Air pollutants can come from many sources. In Canada, the highest emissions of air pollutants have been linked to electricity generation, construction, oil and gas industries, forest fires, transportation, agriculture and wood burning (GoC, 2022a). Environmental events can also contribute to poor air quality. Examples of environmental events that can contribute to air pollution include:

symptoms of smoke exposure

smog symptoms

The effects of air pollution on human health

Exposure to air pollution can lead to a range of short and long-term health effects. While short-term exposure to air pollutants has been linked to symptoms such as dizziness and headaches, long-term exposure has been associated with an increased risk of illnesses such as lung cancer and asthma (HC, 2021). In fact, in Canada, it is estimated that air pollution contributes to 2.7 million asthma symptom days and 15,300 premature deaths each year (HC, 2021).

It is important to note that while the long-term health effects of air pollution can take years to develop, the short-term health effects can occur within minutes of exercising in an environment where the air quality is very poor. This highlights the importance of monitoring air quality when planning or engaging in physical activity.

You may be wondering: who is at risk of experiencing the adverse effects of air pollution? The answer is that everyone is at risk. However, some groups, including, children, older adults and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions are at an increased risk. Although you might not suspect it, people engaging in sports and exercise are at increased risk too. 

The effects of air pollution on outdoor sport participants

Why are athletes at an increased risk? When a person engages in physical activity outdoors, they require more oxygen (Carlisle et Sharp, 2001; Giles et Koehle, 2014). The harder they exercise, the more oxygen their body needs. To meet this increased need, a person must breathe more deeply and more frequently (Carlisle et Sharp, 2001; Giles et Koehle, 2014; EPA, 2011). If the air quality is poor, this increased air intake during exercise means that a person will also breathe in more air pollutants.

Another reason why outdoor sport participants are at increased risk is because when a person exercises heavily, they breathe more through their mouth than their nose (Carlisle et Sharp, 2001; Giles et Koehle, 2014). This means that that less air is filtered through the body’s natural filtration system in the nose, which means more air pollutants have the potential to enter the body (Bateson et Schwartz, 2007).

To summarize, athletes shift their breathing pattern and style during exercise to inhale greater amounts of air. If they are in an area with high air pollution levels, for example, near a busy roadway, they inhale more air pollutants, putting them at an increased risk of health complications.

Poor air quality can also affect athletic performance. When athletes exercise in areas with high air pollution levels, they tend to have a higher perceived exertion (Sandford et coll., 2020). More simply, exercising when the air quality is poor can make outdoor sport participants feel like they are working harder to do the same task. This can mean that athletes can’t perform at the same level as they do when the air quality is good. As you can imagine, this can have considerable implications in outdoor sporting events requiring endurance, like soccer, or timed events, like those in track and field.

The Air Quality Health Index

At this point, you may be wondering what you can do to help protect sport participants from air pollution. The answer is that you can monitor local air quality and make informed decisions about the safety of outdoor sport participation. To do that, you can use the (AQHI).

The AQHI was created to help individuals understand and make decisions about the safety of the air around them. The AQHI presents the relative health risk associated with the combined health effects of air pollutants, including Nitrogen Dioxide, Ground-level Ozone and Particulate Matter. The AQHI is presented on a scale of 1 to 10+, which is further broken down into four health risk categories ranging from low risk (1 to 3) to very high risk (10+).

AQHI risk chart

The AQHI shows observed and forecasted values, so you can use it to measure air quality before and during your event. The AQHI values are accompanied by health messages. These messages can be used to support your decisions around the safety of outdoor sport participation. When reading the health messages, it is essential to remember that outdoor sport participants are considered a high-risk population. As such, more conservative approaches should be taken to ensure their safety.

how to use AQHI

Below are some general guidelines on how the AQHI can be used for planning outdoor activity. As a coach, sport official or leader it is up to you to assess the needs of your participants as well as your environmental conditions to determine if outdoor sport participation is safe.

To access the AQHI visit or download the WeatherCAN app on Google Play or in the App Store.

Strategies to limit sport participants’ exposure to air pollution

Sport organizations, coaches and officials are responsible for the safety of their participants. Here are a few things you can do stay informed and limit sport participants’ exposure to air pollution:

Final thoughts

We hope that this article helps get you thinking about air quality and the safety of outdoor sport participation. We encourage you to use this information to start discussions within your organization or teams about the importance of considering air quality when planning and participating in outdoor sports. Remember that when air quality is poor, it is essential to modify outdoor activities to protect the health of outdoor sport and physical activity participants, as poor air quality can impact health.

An important next step for sport organizations is to develop air quality policies that support safe outdoor sport participation. The policies should provide guidance on appropriate actions to take during poor air quality events and establish education and training expectations on AQHI for coaches and sport officials. If you have any questions or need any supports as you begin this process, please do not hesitate to reach out to the SIRC team at

Resources to explore for further learning

Below are some resources that you may find helpful as you work to learn more about air pollution and what your organization can do to help keep your participants safe:

Sport researchers have demonstrated that unspoken communication is crucial, especially for coaches. Athletes respond to coaches’ body language more frequently and quickly (4.5 times faster) than verbal communication. To promote effective communication, coaches should be direct, take time to consider the best ways to communicate with athletes, and remember that their body language and timing matters.

When helping an athlete recover from injury, it is common for those in supporting roles (such as, coaches, practitioners or parents and guardians) to separate the needs of the injured athlete from the larger team. This makes sense, considering the athlete is dealing with the physical, emotional and psychological effects of rehabilitation (Clement et coll., 2015). However, it is important for those in supporting roles not to overlook the impact an injured athlete’s absence from training and competition can have on both the individual, and the functioning and performance of their team.

In this blog, we will explain how viewing an athlete’s injury recovery from a group dynamics perspective can help the injured individual feel supported and connected to their team during rehabilitation, while also helping the broader team maintain performance.

Understanding team dynamics

Diagram showing the team dynamics model
Figure 1. Summary framework for team dynamics in sport

Understanding how different factors in a team environment interact and contribute to team functioning and individual experiences can help when supporting injured team members and buffering detrimental effects on team performance (Adams et coll. 2022).

Elements that contribute to team dynamics include (Eys et coll., 2022):

How team inputs are impacted by an injury

Each team member has unique biological (for example, height), social (for example, spiritual beliefs), and psychological (for example, personality) attributes that shape the interactions they have with other team members (McGrath, 1984). Similarly, features of the team environment, such as how many athletes are on the field of play at a time or a team’s access to certain resources (like facilities or equipment) also influence the interactions among team members (McGrath, 1984).

When an athlete gets injured, the makeup or structure of the group is forced to change because they are unable to participate in the same ways as when they were healthy. As a result, other team members are presented with new opportunities, altering how the team functions (Surya et coll., 2015; Van Woezik et coll., 2020).

How team throughputs are impacted by an injury

Similar to groups in other domains (such as businesses or the military), sports teams have organizational structure. When an injured athlete is unable to train or compete, it not only affects the team’s physical structure (such as who plays what position), but also the psychological structure (for example, roles within the team) (Surya et coll., 2015).

Athletes adopt or are assigned roles based on their abilities, status within the group, or a pattern that emerges in the way they interact with other members of the team (Cope et coll., 2011). Some roles are considered formal (such as captain) and come with well-defined expectations that should be made clear by the coach. Other roles are considered informal (for example, comedian), and come with their own set of expectations that may vary depending on who is filling the role (Cope et coll., 2011). Regardless, when a team member suffers an injury, roles within the team shift.

Coaches can promote a smooth transition by ensuring team members understand what their new roles require of them and revising team strategy to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the group (Surya et coll., 2015; Van Woezik et coll., 2020). It is also important for coaches, practitioners and guardians of injured players to help them maintain active involvement with the team and feel supported by temporarily providing them a new role (Van Woezik et coll., 2020). Injured players can take on roles such as stats keeper or mentor to younger players.

How team emergent states are impacted by an injury

When all members of the team understand their new roles and feel like they are contributing members, they are more likely to have a positive experience within the team. These perceptions of how we feel as a team member and individual in a team setting are what are referred to as “emergent states.” Cohesion is a key emergent state to consider when an athlete is rehabbing an injury. Cohesion refers to how united an athlete feels their team is regarding task and social objectives (Carron et coll., 1988).

Injured athletes are at risk of disengaging with the team when they feel as though they have a diminished role. When athletes feel they are part of a cohesive group, they demonstrate greater coping ability (Wolf et coll., 2015), are more likely to attend games and practices (Carron et coll., 1988) and accept a diminished role (Prapavessis & Carron, 1997), easing the transitions occurring within the team.

Regularly using cohesion-boosting strategies, such as having a shared team mission and keeping the injured athlete involved with the team can buffer the isolating effects of injury, support their reintegration when they are healthy, and help other athletes adjust to their new responsibilities.

In addition, open and effective communication between coach, athlete, sports medicine practitioners, parents and guardians about the rehabilitation process is key to supporting the injured individual. Open and effective communication can help a recovering athlete feel like they have control over their rehabilitation process, foster positive thinking and goal setting, and protect them from rushing recovery (Podlog & Doinigi, 2010).

Evidence-informed tips to support athletes during and after an injury:


Considering the framework for team dynamics in sport can help the injured athlete have a smooth transition back to play and maintain team performance in their absence (Eys et coll., 2022). Using team dynamics as a guide, coaches, athletes, practitioners and guardians can keep everyone informed and involved while the injured athlete works their way back to competition.

Narratives around concussions can influence athletes’ concussion-reporting behaviours. While performance narratives like “play through the pain” promote concussion underreporting, safety narratives like “it will be better for you in the long run” promote concussion reporting. Coaches and organizations can encourage concussion reporting by shifting concussion messaging to focus on the importance of reporting for athletes’ long-term health and sport participation.

Coaches looking to improve their skills through mentorship programs will get the most out of the experience if they receive support through training and resources. And research shows that training for mentees can be just as helpful as training for mentors. Mentees’ experiences improve when they have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a mentoring relationship, and build connections with other mentees and mentors.