Monday, November 8, 2010

Performance Science: Integrated Sports Science.

Performance Science: Integrated Sports Science - focused on Performance not Publications.

Welcome to Performance Science: Integrated Sports Science, the first and only place on the Internet totally focused on furthering the new direction in Sports science: Performance Science.

So what is Performance Science?

Basically there are two ways of looking at sports science (or science in general for that matter).

  1. The Reductionist Approach: The philosophy that everything is nothing more than the sum of its parts and that the way to understand anything is to "reduce" it to its basic components or elements;
  2. The Emergent Approach: The alternate philosophy to reductionism summed up by Aristotle's quote:  "The whole is more than the sum of its parts".
Performance Science is applying the Emergent Approach to Sports Science and attempting to understand and enhance sports performance through the application of science and scientific principles to sport in an integrated, multi-disciplinary manner.

The way things are.........

For the past 50 years, the reductionist approach has dominated education, thinking, research and athlete servicing in high performance sport.

Universities teach the reductionist approach to sports science through their teaching structures, i.e. sports physiology or sport biomechanics or sport psychology or sport nutrition: the so called "faculty" or "silo" approach to sports science. As these sports specific "departments" grew out of the more traditional scientific disciplines (e.g. physiology, physics, psychology, nutrition), they similarly adopted their "parent" science discipline's approach to research and understanding the way things work, i.e. reductionism.

As sports science students progress from undergraduate to post graduate study, the emphasis on reductionism becomes even greater as they become a specialist in one sports science discipline or another, e.g. "I am an exercise physiologist", "I am a sports biomechanist" etc.

Institutes and Academies of Sport have similarly embraced reductionist philosophies by creating systems and structures based on "faculties" or "silos" for athlete servicing, athlete monitoring and research, e.g. the "physiology department", the "department of applied nutrition", the "centre for applied biomechanics".

The way things can be............

When you think about it, high performance sport and sporting success at the highest level is about the integration of many factors: physical, mental, technical, tactical, strategic, cultural, genetic, family support and many other factors.
Peak performance is the result of the optimal blending and integration of all of these factors: factors which are dependent on and related to each other.

We know that the integration of mind and body (psychophysiology) is a critical aspect of achieving peak performance in elite sport.

We know that the ability to ignore pain and fatigue and maintain technical excellence in critical periods of sporting competitions (e.g. the final moments of a race) is also vital for success.

We see examples over and over again of how athletes and coaches integrate and harmonise the various aspects of performance to achieve a successful outcome by adopting a holistic and balanced approach to planning, preparation and performance.

Yet for some reason, Universities and other institutions continue to ignore the field of Performance Science, preferring instead to continue with their devotion to reductionism, silos and faculties rather than focus on what could be possible with integration, collaboration and multi-disciplinary sports science.

So, the time has come.

Performance Science is here.

Join me in the revolution.

Wayne Goldmith

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