Nathan Pitchford

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Nathan Pitchford

Lecturer in Exercise and Sports Science

Room 001A , Building C

+61 3 6326 3245 (phone)

Dr Nathan Pitchford is an Academic with a keen interest in improving the performance of athletes. Coming from a history of working as a strength and conditioning coach and sport scientist with professional sporting organisations including AFL Tasmania and the Western Bulldogs FC, Nathan utilises his applied skills and knowledge in the coordination, delivery and development of units in the fields of sport and exercise science, strength and conditioning, exercise physiology and research methods. After relocating to Northern Tasmania in 2018, Nathan is enjoying being back in his home State where he can help foster the next generation of exercise and sport science professionals who graduated from the School of Health Sciences.


A Tasmanian through and through, Nathan graduated with Bachelor and Honours degrees in Exercise Science from the University of Tasmania, before completing a Masters of High Performance Sport from the Australian Catholic University. Dr Pitchford then took time away from study to work as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and then Strength and Conditioning Manager at AFL Tasmania. Nathan then completed his PhD in a co-funded position between Victoria University and the Western Bulldogs FC, conducting applied field and laboratory research to investigate the relationships between sleep, training, and recovery elite in team-sport athletes. Nathan’s vast experience working as a strength and conditioning coach and sport scientist with elite youth and senior athletes is evident, and he holds Professional Coach level accreditation with the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA). Dr Pitchford also acts as Lead for the Sports Performance Optimisation Research Team (SPORT) and represents the Human Systems and Resilience stream of the University of Tasmania Defence Network. Dr Pitchford is currently a member of the Tasmanian State Chapter for ESSA in the Industry Development – Exercise Science portfolio and maintains consultancy roles with sporting organisations across Australia.

Career summary


  • PhD, Victoria University, Australia. Thesis: Uncovering the influence of sleep in recovery, training and team-sport competition.
  • Master of High Performance Sport, Australian Catholic University, Australia, 2016.
  • Bachelor of Health Science Honours, University of Tasmania, Australia, Thesis: Effect of caffeine on cycling time-trial performance in the heat, 2012.
  • Bachelor of Exercise Science, University of Tasmania, Australia, 2011.


Professional practice

  • Lead, Sports Performance Optimisation and Research Team, University of Tasmania
  • Human Systems and Resilience Representative, University of Tasmania Defence Network
  • Industry Development – Exercise Science, Tasmanian State Chapter Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA)
  • Professional Coach Accreditation, Level Two Strength and Conditioning Coach, Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA)
  • Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Accredited Exercise Scientist, ESSA
  • Club Weightlifting/Sports Power Coach Level One, Australian Weightlifting Federation (AWF)


Exercise testing and prescription, strength and conditioning, exercise physiology, research methods, sport science.

Teaching expertise

Nathan is an early career academic with a range of applied skills in sport science and strength and conditioning. Nathan uses these skills and his experience to develop the practical skills and theoretical knowledge of students, especially in exercise testing, prescription and programming. Nathan is passionate about preparing students for their career transitions and development of research skills.

Teaching responsibility

Nathan teaches into units for the School of Health Sciences and is unit coordinator for Evidence-Based Research in Health Sciences (CXA328), Health Exercise and Sport Prescription and Delivery (CXA233), and Scientific Principles of Strength and Conditioning (CXA304). As well assisting with teaching in to Health Exercise and Sport Assessment (CXA234) and Exercise Physiology (CXA237).

Research Invitations

  • Podcast interview, Sleep4Performance Radio Episode 7, Let Sleeping Western Bulldogs Lie!, September 2017.
  • Invited webinar presentation, Exercise and Sport Science Australia Professional Development, The role of sleep extension in modulating recovery from competition in elite team-sport athletes, September 2017.

View more on Dr Nathan Pitchford in WARP

Research Themes

Nathan’s research aligns to the theme of Better Health and is focussed primarily on the development of athlete preparation, performance and recovery. Nathan’s research spans a range of topics including the ergogenic effects of caffeine, thermoregulation, protein supplementation, aerobic testing procedures, and the relationships between sleep, recovery, and performance. In collaboration with sporting organisations, external stakeholders and other Universities throughout Australia, Nathan is actively involved in field-based and laboratory research focusing on:

  • The role of sleep and recovery in sporting performance
  • The effects of heat acclimation on physical conditioning in team-sport athletes
  • The role of training load management in the health of youth athletes, and
  • The cognitive effects of environmental stress and exercise.

Fields of Research

  • Sports science and exercise (420799)
  • Exercise physiology (420702)

Research Objectives

  • Public health (excl. specific population health) (200499)
  • Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) (200599)


Total publications


Journal Article

(14 outputs)
2022Philp CP, Pitchford NW, Fell JW, Kitic CM, Buchheit M, et al., 'Hot water immersion; potential to improve intermittent running performance and perception of in-game running ability in semi-professional Australian Rules Footballers?', PLoS ONE, 17, (2) Article e0263752. ISSN 1932-6203 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0263752 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1

Co-authors: Fell JW; Visentin DC; Watson G


2022Philp CP, Pitchford NW, Visentin DC, Kitic CM, Fell JW, et al., 'Can ten days of heat acclimation training improve temperate-condition rowing performance in national-level rowers?', PLoS ONE, September pp. 1-17. ISSN 1932-6203 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273909 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Visentin DC; Kitic CM; Fell JW


2021Aitken D, Balogun S, Foong Y, Humphries D, Laslett L, et al., 'Clinical relevance of MRI knee abnormalities in Australian rules football players: a longitudinal study', BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 7, (3) ISSN 2055-7647 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001097 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Aitken D; Foong Y; Laslett L; Khan H; Jones G; Winzenberg T


2021Saner NJ, Lee MJC, Kuang J, Pitchford NW, Roach GD, et al., 'Exercise mitigates sleep-loss-induced changes in glucose tolerance, mitochondrial function, sarcoplasmic protein synthesis, and diurnal rhythms', Molecular Metabolism, 43 pp. 1-14. ISSN 2212-8778 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.molmet.2020.101110 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 10Web of Science - 10


2020Lastella M, Onay Z, Scanlan AT, Elsworthy N, Pitchford NW, et al., 'Wakeup call: Reviewing the effects of sleep on decision-making in athletes and implications for sports officials', Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 9, (2) pp. 65-71. ISSN 1800-8755 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.26773/mjssm.200907 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2


2020Saner NJ, Lee MJ, Pitchford NW, Kuang J, Roach GD, et al., 'The effect of sleep restriction, with or without high-intensity interval exercise, on myofibrillar protein synthesis in healthy young men', Journal of Physiology, 598, (8) pp. 1523-1536. ISSN 0022-3751 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1113/JP278828 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 21Web of Science - 19


2020Vincent GE, Onay Z, Scanlan AT, Elsworthy N, Pitchford NW, et al., 'The impact of self-reported sleep quantity on perceived decision-making in sports officials during a competitive season', Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 92, (1) pp. 156-169. ISSN 0270-1367 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/02701367.2020.1722309 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 3


2018Juhari F, O'Connor F, Pitchford N, Weston M, Thornton HR, et al., 'The quantification of within-week session intensity, duration, and intensity distribution across a season in Australian Football using the session rating of perceived exertion method', International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 13, (7) pp. 940-946. ISSN 1555-0273 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1123/ijspp.2017-0626 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8Web of Science - 6


2017Bartlett JD, O'Connor F, Pitchford N, Torres-Ronda L, 'Relationships between internal and external training load in team sport athletes: evidence for an individualised approach', International journal of sports physiology and performance, 12, (2) pp. 230-234. ISSN 1555-0265 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1123/ijspp.2015-0791 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 96Web of Science - 83


2017Lee NA, Fell JW, Pitchford NW, Hall AH, Leveritt MD, et al., 'Combined carbohydrate and protein ingestion during Australian Rules football matches and training sessions does not reduce fatigue or accelerate recovery throughout a week-long junior tournament', Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32, (2) pp. 344-355. ISSN 1064-8011 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001827 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Lee NA; Fell JW; Hall AH; Kitic CM


2017Thornton HR, Duthie GM, Pitchford NW, Dalaney JA, Benton DT, et al., 'Effects of a 2-week high-intensity training camp on sleep activity of professional rugby league athletes', International journal of sports physiology and performance, 12, (7) pp. 928-933. ISSN 1555-0265 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0414 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 33Web of Science - 31


2016Pitchford NW, Robertson SJ, Sargent C, Cordy J, Bishop DJ, et al., 'A change in training environment alters sleep quality but not quantity in elite Australian rules football players', International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 12, (1) pp. 75-80. ISSN 1555-0265 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0009 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 38Web of Science - 37


2015Pitchford N, Shing C, Fell J, 'Comparison of 3km time-trial and 20m shuttle run test in the determination of maximal aerobic speed for aerobic endurance training', Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning (Online), 23, (3) pp. 17-21. ISSN 1836-649X (2015) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Shing C; Fell J


2014Pitchford NW, Fell JW, Leveritt MD, Desbrow B, Shing CM, 'Effect of caffeine on cycling time-trial performance in the heat', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 17, (4) pp. 445-449. ISSN 1440-2440 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.004 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 23Web of Science - 20

Co-authors: Fell JW; Shing CM


Conference Publication

(5 outputs)
2020Aitken D, Humphries D, Laslett L, Pitchford N, Khan HI, et al., 'Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-assessed knee abnormalities in Australian rules football players - AFL tas knee study', Osteoarthritis and Cartilage ISSN 1063-4584 (2020) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Aitken D; Laslett L; Khan HI; Jones G; Winzenberg T

2018Lee M, Bishop D, Bartlett J, Pitchford N, 'Does more sleep enhance recovery? Influence of post-exercise sleep extension on physiological, neuromuscular, and perceptual recovery', Exercise and Sport Science Australia Research to Practice Conference, 27-29 May, Brisbane, Queensland (2018) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]


2017Foong Y, Aitken D, Humphries D, Laslett L, Pitchford N, et al., 'Knee function, pain and magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities in Australian Rules Football players: a cohort study', Internal Medicine Journal ISSN 1444-0903 (2017) [Conference Extract]

DOI: 10.1111/imj.5_13463 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Foong Y; Aitken D; Laslett L; Khan H; Jones G; Winzenberg T


2017Pitchford NW, Bishop DJ, Bartlett JD, 'Resting to recover: Influence of sleep extension on recovery following high-intensity exercise', 22nd Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science, 5-8 July, Germany (2017) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]


2015Pitchford N, Robertson S, Sargent C, Bishop D, Bartlett J, 'A pre-season training camp alters sleep behaviour and quality but not quantity in elite Australian Rules football players', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport ISSN 1440-2440 (2015) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]


(1 outputs)
2019Pitchford NW, 'Uncovering the influence of sleep in recovery, training and teamsport competition' (2019) [PhD]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Managing training load in talented high school age athletes (2020 - 2022)$67,500
Load management in developing secondary school athletes. With many talented young athletes participating in multiple sports under the direction of multiple coaches, overall load management can be problematic, contributing to under-performance and increased risk of injury. This project will utilise evidence-based sports science techniques and equipment to monitor and manage load in secondary school athletes in an attempt to optimise outcomes and sporting development.
Launceston Church Grammar School ($67,500)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Pitchford NW; Byrne N; Mainsbridge C; Patterson KAE
2020 - 2022
State-wide Sports Science Services Strengthening Sport and Health in Tasmania (2019)$56,985
The Sports Performance Optimisation Research Team (SPORT) will develop and deliver a high quality sports science service and education package for schools, sports clubs and individuals throughout the state.
Tasmanian Community Fund ($56,985)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Pitchford NW; Kitic C; Watson G; Zadow E; McGowan C; Schmidt M; Williams AD

Research Supervision

Nathan has supervised numerous undergraduate projects and been a collaborator for a range of post-graduate student projects.

  • Honours – Amal Sadri, Victoria University, Effect of Resistance Training in the Heat on Sleep, Completed 2018.
  • PhD – Theunis Pieters, University of Tasmania, Identifying the physiological and psychological characteristics of adolescent athletes, Ongoing
  • PhD – Calvin Philp, University of Tasmania, Effect of Heat Acclimation on Performance in Coo Environments, Ongoing




PhDEffect of heat acclimation on performance in cooler environments2020
PhDLoad Management using Wearable Devices in Adolescent Athlete Populations2020