Lessons in sport science
Behind every great sports team is a great sport scientist. Andrew Clark of Sydney FC shares some gems of wisdom from the field.
Sport science has played a pivotal role in the advancement of elite sport. Australia is now considered a world leader in the development, support and enhancement of athletes through research and evidence-based practice. From its role in the coaching process, to how our knowledge can help best develop and manage players, sport science has incredible influence across all aspects of the athletic world.
The big-picture potential of sport science is something Andrew Clark, Head of Sport Science at Sydney FC, knows well. He takes us inside the day-to-day world of the field…
The team comes first
The most important consideration for any sport science department is a performance model that prioritises the needs of players to perform at their peak. Training facilities, nutrition, medical support, appropriate training profiling, planning and implementation all work together to create an environment that allows players to develop and perform at their best. Sport science plays a significant role in all of these areas. Monitoring environmental conditions including ground hardness, integrating information from the medical and coaching teams and creating recovery strategies centered in best practice nutritional, sleep and relaxation programs are just a few of the responsibilities of the sport scientist.
In the world of sport science, new technology can too often be the sexy headline-grabber in the media, but the use of reliable and validated technology plays an important role in the analysis of the sport and the monitoring and management of athlete training loads. Video analysis, heart rate analysis, GPS and data analysis software are commonplace in the daily life of sport scientists and their athletes. The analysis of data collected to monitor training loads influences the design of training programs to develop robust athletes, keep players fit and allow them to do what they do best… play!
Communication is king
For any aspiring sport scientists or strength and conditioning coaches out there, the best advice to remember is to talk to your fellow coaching staff and players. The communication of important information regarding training status, health and wellness of players and the ability to create change is the key to a successful program. Cutting edge technology often does little more than point us in the right direction to pose questions to a player – “Are you okay? How are you feeling today?” – or to provide positive feedback that all the hard work on and off the training pitch is paying off.
Researching the future
When the limits of training and performance are being pushed, new questions continually arise. Sport science and close links with university facilities and resources allow some of these unanswered questions to be solved through cleverly designed studies. Asking questions, pushing the limits and finding solutions are common behaviors of all great sport scientists and coaches.
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