Understanding the effect of sports shoe properties on traction performance and injury-risk

We have a vacancy for a bright, enthusiastic and self-motivated PhD student to join the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Tribology (iT-CDT) at the University of Sheffield, working in collaboration with the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

About the Project:

The project will begin October 2017 and builds on previous work that examined the tribological mechanisms that occur during typical tennis player movements (taking into account surface type / parameters, loading conditions, contaminants etc.) and developed a robust, portable methodology to assess the traction characteristics of tennis surfaces that relate to playing performance and safety.

This project will take this research into a new direction – focussing on the properties of the shoes themselves (e.g. tread patterns, outsole materials, cushioning layers) and how these affect the traction provided during movements. New test methodologies will be developed including a full shoe test rig that replicates the biomechanical loading in a repeatable way to allow a controlled parametric study to be carried out. Tribological models will be developed at different scales (surface, tread and full shoe) to improve understanding of the combined effects of different parameters.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) are the governing body of tennis, responsible for setting the rules and maintaining the standards of the sport (inc. player and spectator experience). They already have systems and protocols in place to assess equipment such as balls and surfaces, but would also like to be able to study the potential effect of future shoe designs on the sport.

About the Centre:

The CDT Centre is a partnership with the University of Sheffield and University of Leeds, with an annual stipend of £16,069.00 provided through the EPSRC and a number of Industrial members.

We are a training and research facility for PhD students offering 4 year fully funded PhD projects, along with a taught programme, which has been designed to provide the relevant tribology training to students with engineering and physical sciences background. We also provide professional skills training needed for either a successful career within industry or academia.

For Further information on the Programme structure please refer to www.it-cdt.co.uk


  • 1st or 2:1 degree in Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics or other Relevant Discipline.
  • Due to EPSRC residency requirements, this project is open only to UK / EU applicants resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately preceding the start of the course.

Please apply directly through the University online system.
Alternatively contact Kimberley Matthews-Hyde on k.hyde@sheffield.ac.uk for further details.