Sports scientists play a major role in the development of athletes in elite sports teams. Sports scientists come in multiple forms such as physiotherapists, nutritionists, strength & conditioning coaches and sports dietitians. They each impact the teams in unique and insightful ways. In this report references will be made to the unique responsibilities attached to the different variations of sports scientists within an elite group.
“A major objective of sports scientists and elite coaches is the enhancement of athletic performance.” (Williams, 2007). Within an elite sports team, the main goal within the group is to improve throughout the season and to be as successful as realistically possible. Sports scientists form a bond with the athletes as they strive to improve them both physically and mentally. Nutritionists are inducted into team set-ups to introduce planned meals at regular intervals in an attempt to improve the intake of the players in terms of carbohydrates, proteins and other biological molecules. However, we are in a digitalized era where Google is visited more frequently than a dietitian or nutritionist in search of a ‘quick-fix’ solution. Results found in a survey carried out in Australia in accordance with a sample of 410 athletes involved in sports teams found:
“Forty‐four per cent of athletes reported having previously received advice from a dietitian. 20%, 19% and 16% of athletes chose “dietitian”, “internet” and “nutritionist” as their preferred source of nutrition information, respectively.” (Trakman, et al., 2019)
Both strength & conditioning coaches and physios aim to prevent injuries. In an article published on the British Journal of Sports Science website, Coles says:
“There are numerous factors that influence injury rates in elite sporting teams, and many of them are intricately related. To achieve sustained success in decreasing injury rates, we must understand not only each of those potential factors in isolation, but also the relationships that exist between them. Rarely is one session, or one event, the true isolated cause of an injury. Typically, there has been a confluence of many events over time, which has led to the pivotal point where one event then simply becomes ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back”. (Coles, 2018)
This article written by Coles in 2018 was intriguing as many may people see injuries as a result sudden impact or incident. While this may be the case in some extremely rare cases, they are, for the most part, as a result of progressive degradation of the muscle or tissue which has been damaged. For this reason, physiotherapists are extremely important in the staff of an elite sports team in order to prolong the players careers and improve their durability throughout the season by decreasing injury rates within the team. For similar reasons, strength & conditioning coaches are equally important in the prevention of unnecessary injuries in a player’s career. Results show that the strengthening of muscle fibres and prevention of injuries is essential as the “confluence of many events over time” (Coles, 2018) is the main cause of the injury occurring in the first place.
In conclusion, it is a fair and reinforced statement that sports scientists have a key role in elite sports teams. Whether they are involved to mentally prepare the athletes or to physically prepare them, they are an essential part of the squad’s staff. They work coherently with the athletes on a regular basis which helps prepare them for games and training. Better preparation leads to improvement in the results sector and for this reason it is easy to see why they are integrated in elite sports teams both locally and on the international stage.