Authors: Sam Jermyn, Cian O’ Neill, and Edward K. Coughlan

1 Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies, Munster Technological University, Cork Campus, Cork, Ireland

Corresponding Author:
Sam Jermyn
Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies
Munster Technological University, Cork Campus, Cork, Ireland
T: +353 86 3409 505

Author Bios:
Sam Jermyn is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies at Munster Technological University, Cork, Ireland. His area of research focuses on investigating the impact of weighted implement training on the skill acquisition processes of place-kicking in sport. 

Dr. Cian O’Neill is Head of the Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies at Munster Technological University, Cork, Ireland. His areas of research include coaching science, sports performance analysis, human performance evaluation and the broad sports science domain.

Dr. Edward K. Coughlan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies at Munster Technological University, Cork, Ireland. His areas of research include skill acquisition, practice-transfer, deliberate practice, sport science and coaching science.

The Impact and Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Design of a Laboratory-Based Coaching Science Experimental Study: A Research Report


The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global issue, posing a great risk and challenge to all facets of sport. Such spontaneous societal restrictions and considerations are posing immense challenges to all, including those conducting laboratory-based coaching science experimental studies. This research report details the necessary amendments applied to a study that was designed prior to the onset of the pandemic. The study, entitled ‘The Acute Effects of Selected Time Intervals Following Weighted Football Place-Kicks on Ball Velocity of a Standard Gaelic Football Place-Kick’, was designed to be conducted in a human performance laboratory. However, due to the pandemic, a multitude of necessary amendments to the experimental set-up and associated procedures were required following a risk assessment of the original experimental design in respect of local, national and international COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Amendments included remote participant recruitment and the creation of a COVID-19 health screen form. The participant information sheet was updated to enhance understanding of the health and safety requirements, with the number of participants permitted to attend testing sessions reduced to ensure maintenance of social distancing regulations. Data storage procedures were also updated and additional procedures were implemented to ensure safe arrival and exit of participants to and from the testing laboratory. A post-testing session protocol was developed to ensure laboratory sanitization. The purpose of this report is to (i) detail these procedural and methodological amendments that were applied to the original experimental design, and (ii) provide an overview of the implications of these changes as they pertain to the experimental procedure for the duration of data collection. Ultimately, the aim of this report is to provide researchers conducting laboratory-based coaching science studies with considerations pertaining to experimental design that may be impacted by COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Key words: Health & Safety, Pandemic, Experimental Research, Skill Acquisition


Since the emergence of the COVID-19 global pandemic, society has faced unprecedented concerns and challenges that have necessitated immediate changes across all sectors (13). At the time of writing this report, the global figure for total confirmed cases and deaths was 165,069,258 and 3,422,907, respectively (16). As a result of this widespread infectious disease, countries have faced the daunting task of implementing public health policies aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, subsequently posing spontaneous societal restrictions. Due to the pandemic’s non-linear nature, whereby many countries experience multiple waves of the virus, with multiple national daily case numbers exceeding previous peaks (14), it is presumed that all sectors will face further uncertainty and challenges over the coming months, and beyond.

The plethora of restrictive societal requirements established in response to the pandemic include the wearing of face coverings, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning schedules, hand hygiene, social distancing, and maintenance of contact tracing records (4,15). The purpose of these activities is to limit the transfer of infectious particles, ensure greater safety during in-person interactions, and log the contact history of individuals so that the spread of the disease is reduced in the event of a positive case (5). Due to the encouraged adherence to such guidelines, the design and implementation of laboratory-based coaching science studies is implicated. In particular, these studies often place demanding physical requirements on participants due to the nature of sporting activities and are, therefore, likely impacted on a global scale and require specific amendments to ensure the safety of all involved. Although the requirement for such amendments has occurred in response to the abrupt emergence of COVID-19, changes/modifications should be made with the intention, where feasible, of retaining fidelity of the fundamental elements of the original research design (10). Therefore, pertinent information is needed from local (Host Institute’s Health and Safety Officer), national (for example, Health Service Executive and the Government of Ireland) and international (WHO) health and safety governing bodies to align all procedural amendments with their recommendations. Indeed, a proposed study that was intended to be initiated by the authors prior to ‘lockdown’, which aimed to investigate the acute effects of selected time intervals following weighted football place-kicks on ball velocity of a standard Gaelic football place-kick, was impacted by the pandemic, thus requiring significant procedural amendments. Therefore, the aim of this report is to provide researchers who are, and will be, conducting laboratory-based coaching science studies with considerations pertaining to experimental design that include human participants during COVID-19 and potential future global pandemics. Specifically, the purpose of this report is to detail the necessary amendments made to the original study and provide an overview of the implications of the changes relative to the data collection process.

The Original Study

Research investigating the acute effects of weighted sporting implements has primarily focused on the effects of weighted baseball equipment (i.e., under- and over-weighted baseballs and bats) on immediate performance of the respective motor skill(s) (2). Specifically, it has been identified that the optimal time interval required between weighted and subsequent standard implement trials is 4-6 minutes (12). This research has, therefore, concluded that a rest period of 4-6 minutes is required so that expression of the greatest increase in performance with the standard implement is facilitated. Although the existing research has investigated the acute effects of weighted baseball equipment, there is a dearth of research examining the acute effects of weighted footballs on place-kicking. Similar to baseball, in which ball velocity is deemed an integral variable to successful motor skill performance (11), thus serving as a dependent variable in many of the weighted baseball implement studies, ball velocity is also of great importance in the various football codes, i.e., Association football (soccer), Gaelic football, American football, rugby and Australian football (17). Specifically, in Gaelic football, prominent and desirable place-kicking performance outcomes, such as increased kick distance from goalkeeper kick-outs and free-kicks (9), are a function of increased ball velocity (1). Therefore, the purpose of the original study was to investigate potential acute improvements of ball velocity of a standard Gaelic football following place-kicks with a weighted football, and to apply and, therefore, expand the weighted baseball implement research to Gaelic football in order to identify the optimal time interval required following weighted football place-kicks so that greatest increases in ball velocity of the standard Gaelic football are observed – i.e., apply a protocol akin to Wilson et al. (12).


Original Experimental Design

This study took place in the Host Institution’s Human Performance Laboratory, situated within the Sports Department. As participants (n = 52) were recruited from the Host Institution’s sports programmes, it was proposed that participants would make their own way to and from the testing facility at their respective testing times. As the Laboratory is located within the Sport Department gymnasium, it was required that doors remained closed throughout the data collection process. The primary researcher attended the respective cohort’s on-campus lectures in-person to communicate information relating to the study and connect with students willing to participate. Prospective participants received an information sheet detailing the research process via email and were allotted a testing appointment. The experimental procedure was developed to ensure collection of data from 4 participants in the one-hour session. This was facilitated by a within-session overlapping schedule. For example, participant 1 performed the first baseline place-kick at 15:00:00 and finished at 15:27:00, with participant 2 beginning at 15:02:30 and finishing at 15:29:30. Participant 3 began at 15:05:00 and participant 4 began at 15:07:30. Participants remained in the kicking location within the laboratory while awaiting their next place-kick. Two additional members of the research team were present in the facility and aided participants in the retrieval of footballs. Participants provided written informed consent. Ethical approval was attained from the Host Institution’s research ethics committee.

The testing procedure required participants to complete a pre-test measure of ball velocity from 5 maximal effort place-kicks with a standard Gaelic football (O’Neills Irish International Sports Co. Ltd., Belfast, Northern Ireland). Upon conclusion of the pre-test, a 15-minute wash-out period elapsed prior to the commencement of intervention trials. During this wash-out period, participants remained seated inside the Human Performance Laboratory or outside in the gymnasium in sight of the researchers. Following the wash-out period, participants were randomly assigned to a 600g (25% increase) Weighted Football (The Green Ball Company, Dublin, Ireland) group (n = 26) or 480g Standard Football group (n = 26). With their respective implement, participants performed 5 maximal effort place-kicks. A 30-second time interval elapsed between each of the pre-test and intervention place-kicks. Upon conclusion of the final intervention place-kick with their respective implement, all participants performed one maximal effort place kick with a standard Gaelic football at intervals of 2, 4, 6 and 8-minutes post-intervention (12). All place-kicks were performed 1.5m in front of a 2.1m x 1.5m Schutt training net (Litchfield, Illinois, USA), which was situated 2.75m in front of the primary researcher’s location. A 3cm kicking tee was used for all place-kicks.

Ball velocity of all place-kicks was measured with a Bushnell Radar Velocity Gun (Bushnell, Overland Park, Kansas) by the primary researcher. Participants also made subjective judgments of the heaviness of the respective implement and speed of the corresponding place-kick in comparison to the five baseline place-kicks. A 5-point scale was used for each judgment: apparently lighter/faster = 5, slightly lighter/faster = 4, equal = 3, slightly heavier/slower = 2, and apparently heavier/slower = 1 (6-8). “Apparently” inferred an obvious difference relative to the standard football. “Slightly” inferred a subtle yet noticeable difference relative to the standard football. The participants noted their perceptions by circling the corresponding number on the respective scale documents which were collected by the researchers upon conclusion of the testing session. Participants were informed of the ball velocity of the respective trial prior to the subsequent place-kick. Ball velocity values of intervention and post-intervention trials were communicated subsequent to the participant stating their perception of ball mass and speed. The testing procedure is detailed in Table 1.

Table 1. Testing procedure

Table 1
Key: WB = Weighted Football group; SB = Standard Football group; N/A = not applicable


Amendments to the Experimental Design in Response to COVID-19

The purpose of the customized amendments was to ensure the safety of the participant and researcher through sustainment of social distancing, minimization of contact points (between laboratory occupants and surfaces) and particle cross-contamination (perspiration and saliva), and chronicling of contact tracing. The amendments were required following a risk assessment of the original experimental design and subsequent correspondence with the Host Institution’s Health and Safety Officer. It is important, however, to note that the number of place-kicks performed and the time intervals between place-kicks and between testing phases (i.e., baseline, intervention and post-test), as well as the number of participants recruited, were not altered. The necessary amendments specifically related to the development of COVID-19 compliant procedures for participant recruitment, and participant arrival to, and exit from, the facility. The need for personal protective equipment and sanitization apparatus was identified, as well as necessary changes to the number of participants permitted to attend individual testing sessions. These details, among others, are detailed in the next section of this document. The COVID-19 compliant experimental set-up is presented in Figure 1. Original and amended experimental design features are detailed in Tables 2-4.

Figure 1

Figure 1. COVID-19 Compliant Experimental Set-Up. R = researcher; P = participant; F = football

Table 2. Amendments to the participant recruitment process.

Procedural FeaturePre COVID-19 Experimental ProcedureUpdated Experimental Procedure
Cohort40 male sport science students40 male sport science students
Recruitment processRecruited in personRecruited via email
Study information sheetHardcopy distributed in personElectronic copy communicated via email
Consent formHardcopy distributed and signed upon arrival to the laboratoryElectronic copy communicated via email; electronically signed
COVID-19 health screening formN/AElectronic copy communicated via email; electronically signed 48-hours prior to the testing session; participants instructed to notify researcher if their health status changed within the subsequent 48-hour period

Table 3.  Amendments to the experimental set-up.

Set-Up FeaturePre COVID-19 Experimental Set-UpUpdated Experimental Set-Up
Sanitisation equipmentN/ASanitisation kit positioned inside the laboratory with a bin positioned near the exit
Doorway(s)Remained closedRemains open; if the laboratory is located within a larger facility, the door should remain open when activities are not taking place in the larger facility
Waiting areaParticipants remained in the ‘kicking location’Participant sits in chair in opposite corner of room to researcher (5m difference) with mask worn at all times; minimises contact points
Filing system(s)Researcher filed formsParticipant files forms; remain untouched for 72hrs
Storage of belongingsIn laboratoryOutside the laboratory

Table 4. Amendments to the experimental procedure.

Procedural FeaturePre COVID-19 Experimental ProcedureUpdated Experimental Procedure
Number of participants per testing sessionsMultiple (4-5)One
Number of researchersMultiple (2-3)One
Wearing of face coveringN/AMandatory at all times
Entrance to facilityParticipant free to enter facility and make way to laboratoryParticipant remains outside the facility until instructed to enter by the researcher; social distancing maintained throughout
Opening & closing doorsN/AOnly the researcher opens and closes doors
Contact tracing recordN/AResearcher notes participant’s name, contact details, and entry and exit times
Social distancingN/AMaintained throughout entire testing session
Sanitisation requirementsN/AUpon entry to facility and laboratory; upon exit of the laboratory and facility
Wearing of glovesN/AUpon entry to the laboratory and throughout the testing session
Inter-trial requirementsParticipants completed a hand-written experimental form detailing their perception of ball mass and speed per trial; Wait until instructed to perform next trialParticipants completed a hand-written experimental form detailing their perception of ball weight and speed per trial; Remained seated in chair provided to ensure social distancing is maintained and contact points between participant and apparatus are minimised
Retrieval of equipment during testing procedureSecondary researcherParticipant
Wash-out periodRemain in close proximity to laboratory (inside gym facility or outside); Instructed to not exert excessive energyRemain seated in chair provided to ensure a maximum distance is maintained between participant and researcher, and contact points between participant and apparatus are minimised; Instructed to not exert excessive energy
Post-testing activitySecondary researcher gathered equipment; placed equipment at the end of the laboratorySole researcher gathers forms; place into filing box and closes box; remove gloves; sanitise hands; gather belongings – all performed by participant
Sanitisation of equipment and laboratoryN/AParticipant sanitises equipment upon conclusion of procedure; researcher sanitises laboratory during the 10-15 minute interval between testing sessions


The implications of the required amendments resulted in altered timeframes of the participant recruitment process and various facets of the experimental set-up. The number of participants permitted to attend testing sessions, and the time-frame of the data collection phase, were impacted. As mentioned, participants were students of the Host Institution’s sports programmes, and it was, therefore, originally proposed that prospective participants would be recruited in-person. Those volunteering to participate would subsequently be contacted via email with further information. However, due to the need to recruit participants and communicate study information sheets via email, and the accompanying requirement of electronic signing and completion of consent and health screen forms, the preparatory phase of this study was inevitably extended. Given the importance of ensuring adherence to the respective guidelines, it was essential to provide clarification, and gain participants’ clear understanding, of the testing procedure and procedures put in place pertaining to their arrival to, and exit from, the facility. Therefore, following consultation with the Host Institution’s Health and Safety Officer, and subsequent amendments to the experimental design, detailing of the experimental set-up and the aforementioned procedures was communicated to the participants through construction of the updated study information sheet.

The preparation phase became more extensive due to the need to ensure all sanitation equipment was available and in working order, the facility layout was compliant with health and safety (H&S) requirements, and a thorough explanation of the experimental procedure in respect of the H&S requirements was communicated to participants. While the preparation period increased, other enforced amendments resulted in a shorter experimental period per testing session, such as the number of participants permitted to attend testing sessions decreasing from four participants (1-hour testing session duration) to one participant (35-minute testing session duration). However, the amendment to the number of participants permitted to attend each session resulted in an increase in the duration of the data collection phase, from 3-weeks to 6-weeks. 

Recommendations for Researchers

Although the forthcoming recommendations specifically refer to the COVID-19 pandemic, these recommendations may also be applicable to potential future pandemics. Firstly, it is recommended that the initial task of researchers resuming and/or initiating laboratory-based coaching science research intra- and post-pandemic is to complete a risk assessment (RA) of the proposed research design in respect of H&S requirements. This will support the fostering of a comprehensive understanding of the impact and implications of COVID-19. This, in turn, should lead to the completion of a review of the existing controls established to manage the risk of contraction and spread of COVID-19 and facilitate the development of further actions and controls to decrease the corresponding risk rating to ensure a safe research environment and experimental procedure.

The RA should ensure proactive, rather than reactive, strategies and controls relating to COVID-19 and general well-being are in place during data collection. The outcome of the RA should reflect procedures that facilitate participants’ thorough understanding of the experimental procedure in advance of their scheduled data collection and/or intervention sessions, and ensure participants’ appreciation of the importance of adhering to the implemented H&S guidelines that result in a COVID-19 compliant experimental design. Failing to cultivate participants’ clear understanding of the procedure, and the subsequent implications of misunderstanding such procedures, would compromise the efficacy of the research’s compliance to the required H&S measures. The RA will need constant reviewing and potential updating, relative to local and national H&S guidelines, to ensure that all procedures support the fostering of a safe research environment. Updates should be based on current best practice in relation to infection prevention and control (3). The subsequent findings and alterations, including updated control measures, should reflect an experimental design that is in line with local (the Host Institution) and national H&S requirements. The respective institution or organization in which the experimental study is taking place should be consulted regarding RA requirements and guidelines. Table 5 presents key considerations and features of the experimental set-up, and preparatory and experimental procedures, that researchers may pay particular attention to when completing a RA and evaluation of an existing or proposed study.

Table 5. Features of the experimental design to consider when evaluating and risk assessing the existing/proposed design.

Experimental facility and environmentAssess size and layout in respect of sustained abidance to all H&S requirements. This should ensure safe storage of participants’ belongings, the provision of a safe and sanitised surface in which additional experimental activities (if necessary; for example, the completion of experimental forms) can be completed, and assurance that sanitisation of surrounding surfaces between data collection sessions is feasible.Consider a designated participant sanitisation station and its respective position relative to the nearest ‘isolation room’. This is in addition to the required assurance that social distancing and minimal points of contact with environmental surfaces are maintained.
Experimental ProcedureDetermine the appropriate number of participants permitted to attend each data collection session based on features such as the size of the experimental facility, the availability of experimental apparatus that may be required, the complexity of the research protocol, and the maintenance of social distancing.Participant arrival: When indoors, consider the potential congregation of participants in enclosed locations, and potential areas and surfaces that may be contacted. The amended procedure should require participants to wear masks at all times when indoors and to sanitise hands immediately upon entry to the experimental location. Participant details should be recorded in a sign-in sheet for contact tracing purposes. It is recommended that the primary researcher is solely permitted to open and close doors and contact relevant surfaces. Doors should remain open when possible to ensure maximal ventilation. In the event data collection is taking place in a separate room within the facility, it is necessary for an additional sanitisation station to be available within the specific testing location and used upon entry and exit. When outdoors, many of the aforementioned considerations apply, whereby close congregation of individuals must be avoided, and minimal contact between participants and outdoor surfaces (equipment, gates, tables, chairs) is maintained.Consider how experimental and sanitisation equipment/apparatus can be interacted with in the most H&S compliant manner (i.e., minimal contact). The wearing of protective equipment, such as disposable gloves, may be required, and is some cases, mandatory. If it is proposed that participants complete experimental forms/documentation during a data collection session, consider the possibility of the researcher recording said data on their own personal computer. If unavoidable, ensure the participant uses their own stationary. If the participant does not have stationary in their possession, ensure stationary is sanitised by the participant following use. Allocation and development of a post data collection sanitisation period and accompanying protocols (to be completed by the present researcher(s)). If feasible, the participant should sanitise the equipment/apparatus they interacted with. All parties should sanitise hands upon exit of the experimental location, with the researcher accompanying the participant(s) to the exit to decrease contact points while maintaining social distancing. Assess procedures relating to events in which participants become/feel ill in the experimental location. Accompanying procedures relating to the nearest ‘isolation room’ should be considered and/or developed in line with H&S guidelines.
Preparatory activitiesConsideration of the existing/proposed participant cohort based on the RA of the aforementioned features. Consider communicating relevant documentation (for example; consent and COVID-19 Health Screen forms, and information sheets) remotely (i.e., email). To account for the potential of human error and misunderstanding of the required compliance to H&S guidelines, a phone call or remote meeting may be necessary to negate any potential compliance issues. Consider communicating the RA to prospective participants and require them to read and sign the document.

 It is recommended that the experimental location and set-up should be risk assessed prior to assessing experimental procedures and pre data collection endeavors (participant recruitment and communication of relevant forms). Assessment of the facility will allow researchers to make an informed decision as to whether the location will facilitate a COVID-19 compliant experimental design. If the location and experimental set-up are deemed suitable, (re)design of experimental procedures and identification of the prospective participant cohort may then be finalized. Layout features of the testing facility/environment may be amended to reflect updated experimental control measures and, subsequently, inform the researchers of the number of participants permitted to attend testing and/or intervention sessions.

Analysis of the experimental procedure may begin with an assessment of the implications of H&S requirements on the number of participants permitted to attend data collection sessions. The RA process may then consider procedural features related to the arrival of participants to the experimental location, accessing the experimental location if it is located within a greater facility, the data collection process, and post data collection requirements. Assessing these features should be completed in respect of a resultant procedure(s) that maximizes compliance to social distancing and contact tracing requirements, and minimizes the potential of cross-contamination during the testing and/or intervention session(s). Knowledge of the nearest ‘isolation room’ is essential, with the location of the room and accompanying procedures being obtained from the Health and Safety Officer. In the event a participant or researcher feels unwell, or COVID-19 symptoms are displayed, the respective individual should make their way to the isolation room and await further instruction. All respective procedures will be enforced by the relevant personnel. This occurrence should be documented by the researcher, potentially in the form of an incident report, which should be shared with the relevant personnel.

Following the RA of the experimental location, set-up and procedures, the RA should then focus on the proposed preparatory activities carried out in advance of data collection commencement, as well as post-session activities. Findings of the RA of the aforementioned features will likely inform this process, aiding the determination of H&S compliance of preparatory activities, such as who will comprise the participant sample and the participant recruitment process. Upon deciding who will comprise the prospective cohort, consideration should be given to the required forms of communication (of relevant documentation and study information) so that participants have a clear understanding of all experimental and H&S features prior to data collection. For example, with an adolescent (< 18 years) cohort, researchers may be required, in addition to communicating all forms and information sheets via email, to address prospective participants and legal guardians via remote or in-person meetings (when practical). This may afford participants the opportunity to gain clarity of certain aspects of the experimental design which, if not afforded said opportunity, may result in deviations from the required COVID-19 compliant experimental procedure. An awareness of the potential for human error and misunderstanding of the required compliance to H&S guidelines should be a central influence in the determination of the optimal form of communication to participants. Researchers may deem it necessary to communicate the completed RA to participants, subsequently requiring all participants to read and sign the document to ensure clarity of understanding and appreciation of requirements. In some instances, particular participant cohorts (for example, third-level students) may have already completed a COVID-19 induction course. As participants in the current study were sports programme students attending the Host Institution, they had already completed the mandatory COVID-19 online induction course prior to their return to campus. This form of an induction course reinforces and enhances participants’ understanding and appreciation of the importance of the H&S measures, thus fortifying the compliance of the study to the required H&S standards. Careful attention should be applied to post testing session activities, such as participants’ exit from the facility. If the testing facility is within a larger facility, the researcher should accompany the participant to the main exit, with both individuals sanitizing their hands at the exit. A post testing session sanitization protocol should be developed, whereby a time interval is allotted between testing sessions so the researcher can sanitize the facility.

Following this initial assessment of the experimental design, it is recommended that the researcher(s) would detail, in a document, the RA process and its findings and implications. All preparatory activities and administrative duties, and COVID-19 compliant apparatus needed to ensure the appropriate implementation of the proposed experimental design, should be listed. This document may be forwarded to the Host Institution’s Health and Safety Officer (or COVID-19 Lead Worker Representative if someone other than the Health and Safety Officer holds the title). A review of the proposed experimental design by the appropriate and qualified personnel will ensure the design adheres to both local (the Host Institution) and national COVID-19 H&S recommendations. Upon initiation of the data collection phase, it is recommended that the researcher(s) details and practices an ‘experimental checklist’ in which all features of the experimental design are confirmed in advance of each testing and/or intervention session. The checklist should also highlight the location, and accompanying procedures, of the nearest ‘isolation room’. This checklist will further support adherence to all H&S requirements. If there are any uncertainties pertaining to experimental features and compliance to COVID-19 H&S guidelines, the respective Host Institution and national health governing bodies’ recommendations should be consulted.


The COVID-19 pandemic poses additional considerations and challenges to laboratory-based coaching science studies. However, it is important to note that the experimental design may not need to be modified. This paper details how a laboratory-based coaching science study that was designed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was amended to preserve the integrity and validity of the experimental design and procedures. The process of ensuring this preservation, through risk assessing the experimental design in respect of local, national and international COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, which resulted in the development of updated procedures relating to sanitization, participant recruitment, and participant arrival and exit to and from the facility, were discussed.


The processes outlined in this document relating to assessing an existing experimental design and, subsequently, facilitating the recommencement of research that is compliant with COVID-19 H&S requirements, may also be applied to endeavors in the applied setting including medical, physiological and physical activities. Specifically, the procedure of risk assessing an existing protocol in light of the COVID-19 pandemic may support the (re)design of pre and post training and/or match activities such as ‘prehab’ and rehab treatments and off-field warm-up strategies, and ensure training and match day practicalities (i.e., dressing room layout, availability of sanitization equipment, and individuals’ entry to, and exit from, said facility) are COVID-19 compliant. Application of these processes to the respective medical, physiological and physical activities may, therefore, facilitate the development of strategies that support the safe recommencement of sporting activities during, and post, COVID-19 lockdown periods.   

To ensure a laboratory-based coaching science study is compliant with H&S guidelines in light of the pandemic, amendments to the design, delivery and execution of procedures (pre, intra, and post data collection session) may ensure the design, aims, and objectives of the respective study are preserved, while concurrently ensuring the study’s completion during the current or future pandemic. The aim of this paper is to serve as a support resource for the design of future laboratory-based coaching science studies, specifically providing researchers with considerations pertaining to experimental design that includes human participants during COVID-19 and potential future pandemics. The authors advocate that adhering solely to the aforementioned recommendations is not advised. The purpose of this paper is to merely guide researchers and provide an overview of the required amendments, and their implications, to an experimental study that was designed prior to the pandemic. Researchers should refer to the H&S guidelines of the respective Host Institution or Organization, and national health authorities’ requirements, for an experimental design that is compliant with the COVID-19 pandemic or any future pandemic.


No external sources of funding were provided during this research. The authors report no conflict of interest.


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