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Sports Scientist

A sports scientist investigates different ways to improve sporting performance through applied science. Some invent new equipment to help athletes get the most out of their training or competition. Some design and test nutritional products that might improve performance.

Other sports scientists are psychologists who investigate the best ways for athletes to prepare mentally before competition. There are also some sports scientists who work in the area of biomechanics where they apply the laws of mechanics and physics to improve sports performance. The demand for sport scientists is growing in line with the ever-increasing focus within the sporting world on achieving the best results possible.

Through the study of science and sport, researchers have developed a greater understanding of how the human body reacts to exercise, training, diet and nutrition, environmental conditions, as well as recovery from injury. They often work directly with athletes and coaching teams in the development of training plans and competition preparation.

If you are interested in a career as a sports scientist, visit Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie) to search for relevant courses at all levels and entry points.

Some alternative jobs titles for this role

  • Sports Therapist
  • Sports Injury Practitioner
  • Exercise Scientist 

What the job involves

  • Evaluate athlete's performance to determine what improvements are to be made
  • Develop treatment and exercise programmes that support athletes' preparation and recovery, and help them return to training or competition
  • Conduct research into sporting performances, and communicate findings to officials, athletes, coaches and other support staff
  • Develop training programmes for sportspeople to improve sporting performance and reduce the risk of injury
  • Work as part of the athlete's support team to develop the athlete's performance

How your career can develop 

Sports scientists can specialise to become an exercise physiologist, motor control and learning specialist, sports biomechanics, diet and nutrition specialist or psychologist. There are many opportunities to specialise in the field. There are also research bodies doing primary research into sports and fitness.

Why it matters?

Current research, led by Dr. Bennet Omalu based in Pennsylvania USA, may suggest that American football players are at a higher risk of developing CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma. If CTE is linked to American football, Dr. Omalu's research could shape the future of contact sports.

Skills

  • A strong interest in sports and nutrition 
  • Excellent analytical and organisational skills
  • An interest in science 
  • Good communication and teamwork skills
  • Observation skills
  • A passion for fitness and physical well-being

Typical employers 

  • Sports clinics
  • Sporting associations
  • Sports teams

Typical salary 

  • Graduate/Starting   €20,000 to €30,000
  • Senior/Potential      €70,000+ after 10 years

Typical qualifications

To become a sport scientist, students should consider completing a bachelor’s degree in sports science. Alternative routes to a bachelor’s degree in this area may apply to students that have a PLC qualification in a related course or general science certification or diploma. For further details on eligibility requirements for third level entry following a PLC qualification, students should visit the CAO course search at Careersportal.ie

Further information