What Does a Sports Scientist Do?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier
There are research positions in labs for sports scientists.
There are research positions in labs for sports scientists.

Sports scientists apply scientific principles to athletic activities. Tasks might range from creating comparative performance charts to designing exercise and nutrition programs that enhance athletic performance. These scientists may draw upon knowledge from a variety of disciplines, such as physiology, anatomy, nutrition, and psychology. Research is another primary focus of many sports scientists.

Scientific principles can be applied to sports.
Scientific principles can be applied to sports.

Several subdisciplines are a part of sports science. Anatomy and physiology-related tasks might include comparing different body sizes and shapes or measuring various functional capacities. As for nutrition, some athletes, such as those involved in high-speed, high-energy sports need more of certain types of nutrients, like carbohydrates. A sports scientist would catalog these individual needs and create unique and specific diets for various athletes. In contrast, a psychology-focused sports scientist might evaluate the roles that the brain and human intellect play in different athletic influences like stress management and endurance.

Some sports scientists focus on nutrition, researching optimum diets for athletes.
Some sports scientists focus on nutrition, researching optimum diets for athletes.

Exercise physiology is another major component of sports science. This discipline analyzes how physical movement impacts bodily processes. Factors such as muscle strength, breathing, and heart rate are thus important. These analyses can help build training programs for athletes, such as aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises.

Numerous scientific journals are devoted to exercise physiology, and sports scientists may seek publication in these or similar texts. A research-focused sports scientist might primarily study and record physiological responses. One of the most famous examples is August Krogh, who received the Nobel Prize in the early 20th century for discovering the means by which blood flows through muscles. In addition, physician Austin Flint was a pioneer in the field, providing details about bodily reactions to exercise.

Sports scientists working in research must be able to keep accurate and detailed records of their experiments.
Sports scientists working in research must be able to keep accurate and detailed records of their experiments.

A sports scientist might seek specialization in one of the aforementioned subdisciplnes. Some individuals might choose to work as exercise trainers, teachers and coaches or in similar forms of employment that emphasize information distribution. Others, such as dieticians, physical therapists, or professional sports consultants, choose a more medically-based discipline. Research positions that require abundant laboratory and statistical work are also available. Some sports scientists even take an administrative focus in which they manage sports teams or sports-related facilities.

A sports scientist may study blood samples.
A sports scientist may study blood samples.

Most sports scientist positions include a minimum of a bachelor's degree in sports science or a related field. Certification is also needed for many positions. Accredited organizations such as the United States Sports Academy help fulfill these specific needs.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • There are research positions in labs for sports scientists.
      By: kasto
      There are research positions in labs for sports scientists.
    • Scientific principles can be applied to sports.
      By: Paco Ayala
      Scientific principles can be applied to sports.
    • Some sports scientists focus on nutrition, researching optimum diets for athletes.
      By: jokonkoda
      Some sports scientists focus on nutrition, researching optimum diets for athletes.
    • Sports scientists working in research must be able to keep accurate and detailed records of their experiments.
      By: Monkey Business
      Sports scientists working in research must be able to keep accurate and detailed records of their experiments.
    • A sports scientist may study blood samples.
      By: JackF
      A sports scientist may study blood samples.
    • Sports scientists may study the injuries that are incurred by participants in sports, such as boxing and martial arts, that mimic personal combat.
      By: Tadija Savic
      Sports scientists may study the injuries that are incurred by participants in sports, such as boxing and martial arts, that mimic personal combat.
    • Sports scientists may study the effect of massage and other similar techniques on an athlete's performance.
      By: wellphoto
      Sports scientists may study the effect of massage and other similar techniques on an athlete's performance.