Skip main navigation

Sports medicine, science and technology

Ever wondered about the sports science, medicine and technology used to prepare elite athletes for competition? Watch this video to find out more.
Male athlete on a sports science bicycle doing testing.
© Griffith University

We’ll now dive deeper into athlete preparation and discover what other important elements really assist in taking them to the next level, giving them that competitive edge and supporting their efforts to achieve their best in their event.

Sports Medicine

The management of the athlete’s health is of great importance to improved performances as it allows the athlete to continue to train without missing any sessions.

Athletes competing at the highest level are often appointed a suite of medical and health professionals to carefully manage their health such as:

  • sports medical doctor
  • physiotherapist
  • massage therapist
  • dietician
  • psychologist
  • other allied health professionals

This expert knowledge and specialist treatment can assist an athlete’s return from injury or illness, as well as help to prevent injury or illness occurring in the first place.

In many cases, the Sports Medical Team work together to continuously manage an athlete who has a minor injury (such as a mild calf strain) or chronic pain resulting from an overuse injury (e.g., shoulder soreness in a swimmer) just to keep the athlete training and competing. Find out more about performance health on the QAS website.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Sports Science

The role of the sport scientist is to work with the coach and athlete to make small improvements in athlete performance. Sports Science comprises three main disciplines including:

  • Physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Skill Acquisition

Find out more about these three disciplines on the QAS website.

The adjustment of coaching and training methods, environmental and dietary interventions, as well as performance analysis are examples of how sports science can influence the performance of an athlete.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

As you heard Monique mention in the video, after each race, athletes and coaches carefully reflect on their race to determine what went well and what could be improved. From there, a strategy is devised for their next race that best compliments their strengths and weaknesses.

Race Performance Analysis

To help determine the best strategy going forward, measures are taken of swim speed, number of strokes per minute, stroke length, and turn time as these can provide the athlete and the coach with important information about how the swimmer performed.

These measurements are known as “Race Performance Analysis” and are typically completed by a biomechanist (pronounced BIO-MECH-AN-IST) who is a specialist in the field of sports science. Sports Scientists use video and software which makes the task of calculating these measures much simpler than doing so manually. All the data is collected and displayed in tables for presentation. The athletes and coaches typically have access to this race analysis data within a few hours of the race.

Monique’s Race Performance Analysis

Here you can see one of Monique’s race performance analysis from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

Race analysis

Explanation of race analysis

  • Breakout time refers to the time it takes from the start of the race to when the swimmer first breaks the top of the water after swimming underwater immediately following their dive start.
  • Pacing refers to whether an athlete swims the whole race at an even pace (ie the first half of the race takes the same amount of time as the second half of the race), or whether the athlete goes out (first half) slow and comes home (second half) quickly (or vice versa).
  • Skill time measured during a race refers to the total time it takes to complete all of the turns in the race. A turn is measured as the athlete swims under the flags at the end of the lap, makes the turn on the wall, and then exits the flags as they begin the next lap.

Using the data from the race analysis to make adjustments to the swimming technique can make all the difference and, as Monique said, can give you the winning edge.

Sports Technology

Sports performance has always been linked to advancements in technology. For instance, improvements in equipment, clothing, footwear, and facilities have led to faster, more powerful, and more exciting match play and performances. However, it is the evolution of “wearable technologies” that has transformed the way we monitor, measure, and assess athletic performance. These small wireless gadgets are discreetly attached to athletes, tracking their every move.

Listen to Associate Professor Daniel James explain how Sports Technology is used in elite sport.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Your Task

From Monique’s Race Performance Analysis chart, identify which was the slowest lap (i.e., 25-m segment) performed by the athlete. Besides a slower free-swim speed, determine what else contributed to the slow lap time. You can download a copy of the race performance analysis below.


The Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) has kindly provided some of the footage used in the Sports medicine and Sports science videos above.

© Griffith University
This article is from the free online

Major Sport Events: Winning Through Diversity and Inclusion

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now