Sports Science

Image by Wellcome Library/Neil Webb

Sports science covers any kind of scientific study that can be used to explain and improve sporting performance. This could include everything from technique, to training, to what athletes ought to have for breakfast. Sports scientists and performance consultants are in high demand to help professional sportsmen and sportswomen to achieve the best results.

Image by Matthias Kabel

Sports science may have been invented by the ancient Greeks who were interested in improving the health, strength and fitness of Olympic Athletes over two thousand years ago. They realised the importance of having a good diet, of training the muscles and of improving cardiovascular fitness.

Scientists today measure the abilities of athletes under different conditions, to find out the importance of things like hydration (whether they’ve had enough to drink), temperature and humidity (whether they’re in a warm, moist climate), how much fat and muscle they have, the size of their lungs and hearts and even whether they’ve taken performance enhancing drugs (many of which are illegal).

Scientists can even come up with new ways of training, such as altitude training which takes athletes to a high-altitude environment with very little oxygen in order to improve their breathing and circulation so that they can get oxygen to their muscles more efficiently.

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Biomechanics is another element of sports science. This is basically the physics of sports, and would consider things like thrust, gravity, pivots, momentum and aerodynamics. This could help work out the best golf swing, the optimum body position for diving or the best way to pull stroke in rowing in order to turn your energy into movement of the boat.

Psychology is also important for athletes. If they are stressed by a competition they may become tense and worried and find it hard to concentrate. Coaches sometimes focus on four main qualities that they hope will enable their athletes to perform better: concentration, confidence, control and commitment.

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