What is Sports Performance Science?
Sports Performance Science is..the Science of Sports Performance.
Now, that reads a little like the first words of a politician preparing for an election campaign but in simple terms, the concept of Sports Performance Science is looking at how we apply Science to the Performance of athletes, players, coaches and teams in sports situation, e.g. training, preparation and competition.
Think about an athlete performing in a competition. Visualise a simple sports technique that they are using in the competition.
How about a player passing a soccer ball to one of his team mates?
The relatively simple act of passing a soccer ball requires the integration of numerous mental and physical components.
The performance - the passing of the ball - represents the effective integration of physical, mental, technical, tactical, genetic, cultural and other factors into one simple sports action. It is complex. It is multi-disciplinary in nature.
To a Sports Scientist with a Hammer, Every Athlete is a Nail.
Now consider our traditional methods of applying sports science to analysing, understanding and enhancing that sporting skill.
The player comes to the sports institute, academy of sport or academic institution for some sports science support.
We send them to the sports physiology department where they get tested, poked and prodded by physiologists who will use their "hammer" on the nail and look at blood, muscle, saliva, oxygen transport and biochemistry.
We then send them to the sports biomechanics department where they run, jump, hop and skip in front of a crowd of computers, cameras, analysers and digitizers that NASA would be proud of.
Off we direct them to the department of sports nutrition where they fill in diaries about what they ate, when they ate it, how much they ate, how much it weighed and what color their urine was as a result.
Then we push them to the department of sports psychology to be analysed, scrutinised, regressionised and dissociatised.
And then, armed with the equivalent of ten encyclopedias of information, we send them back to the coach, who has to sift through the data, find something of relevance that they understand, figure out how to integrate it into training and how it might potentially impact on the player's performance.
There has to be a better way: a more common sense way of applying science to performance.
There is.....Sports Performance Science.
Time to change: join me in this most exciting of sporting revolutions.