Sports science is the study of player performance from the aspect of their physiological condition, nutrition and psychology. A careful study of a player during their career and the planning of training and diet with the results of statistical analysis in mind will not only improve performances but also help the athlete avoid injury. Biomechanics is an important part of the whole process, studying gait and muscle performance in particular. Computer programs to pull all the information together are essential – sports science methods can’t really be used effectively without a lot of IT input.
Choosing the best software
There are so many software packages on the market – some of them free to download in the basic model – that it is quite mind-boggling for the first time user. Choosing one with a specific platform for your specific sport is a good idea although some of them are for general use and don’t specify an actual sport as such. Those which analyse gait, muscle use and weight-bearing in play are good overall and there are some that analyse video footage to tell if someone is favouring one leg, has a bad gait or is looking weak in any specific movement. This is very handy if a sportsperson is getting a lot of injuries, because it may pinpoint why. If someone is having a specific problem with one element of a sport – most common in sports such as golf or tennis – then sports science software can come quickly to the rescue as the fault can be identified and eliminated. Amateurs can get a lot of use out of sports science software too.
Keeping nutrition on track
It is always tricky to keep diet under control because it is quite hard to know exactly what constitutes a ‘portion’ of any food. Once that is established, meals are easier to calculate for calories, but the other elements in food intake such as fats and sugar can be more difficult. Using a software package designed to track diet and exercise takes all of the guesswork out of this area of training. By inputting the food eaten daily and using an exercise monitor to establish calories used, the athlete can reach the perfect mix of what foods to eat and what exercise to do. Of course, food is not just fuel – the mix of elements such as carbs, protein and fats is just as, if not more important and nutrition software designed for sports takes all the guesswork out.
A real science
Sports science is offered as a subject in many major universities all over the UK and indeed the world. Taking this degree does not tie a person down to the world of sport, of course. Many physiotherapists started with sports science degrees and also coaches and trainers often have this grounding. Statistics and computer science are becoming vital elements in successful sporting performances and winners need to be given every advantage available – a study and use of sports science gives the edge that every athlete seeks.
Rob Steen is a Freelance Copywriter who often writes for the Sports Office.