Expand Your Sport Science Knowledge

Joe Friel explains the importance of having a broad understanding of exercise physiology, psychology, nutrition, and other science fields.

The coach must have at least a rudimentary knowledge of exercise physiology, sport psychology, sports nutrition, and biomechanics. I also include first aid basics in this category even though, technically, it is not sport science. It is still necessary that you understand it and can use it if needed.

The amount of information in the field of scientific research is overwhelming. It’s impossible to know even a small segment of what’s available. You certainly aren’t expected to be an authority on sport science, but a solid understanding of the basics is very helpful in guiding your athletes. Keep up with new concepts and trends in these fields of study.

As you become more knowledgeable in this field you will also become a better coach. You’ll come to understand the reasoning behind the types of workouts you have your athletes do, what you suggest they eat, how you prepare them mentally for an event, and why you teach certain movement patterns. You’ll also be better prepared in case an athlete has a medical emergency and you must offer firsthand assistance.

Effective coaches must be lifelong learners, committed to growth. This is one of those areas in which you need to stay current. Coaches who become stuck in a dated way of advising and preparing an athlete for an event will eventually be left behind as athletes and other coaches learn of more effective methods as demonstrated by recent research.

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Resources for improving sport-science knowledge

It’s likely that you have at least a bachelor’s degree in a sport science–related field. That’s become increasingly common as the ranks of coaching grow. Still, an ongoing commitment to learning more about sport science will pay off because whatever education you bring to coaching, it tends to quickly become dated. Ongoing training will help you keep up with the latest research and trends so you are prepared to help your athletes separate fact from fiction.

The Fast Talk Labs content library is filled with resources that detail the latest in sport science, from physiology to nutrition.

National Governing Bodies

You can also find a considerable amount of information to improve your knowledge of sport science on your sport’s national governing body website. When you obtained your certification from the sport’s national governing body, you probably listened to a sport scientist or two present the latest updates in their fields. That’s quite common. And there also are likely to be online courses offered by your NGB that you can take to improve your sport science knowledge.

You can also find books that go into some detail on sport science for your sport. This is a typical topic for authors to include when writing about most any aspect of training.


Of course, as with the other skills and knowledge areas discussed above, a mentor who has a strong background in sport science is also a good option for improving your understanding in this area.

Colleges, Universities, and Community Colleges

If there is a university near where you live, you may also be able to find sport science classes offered for continuing education or lifelong learning courses. These may even be available online if there isn’t a nearby college. A school may also have a sport science professor who could offer a focused one-day class on exercise physiology, sports nutrition, or a number of other topics specific to the needs in your coaching company. As a bonus, look for someone who participates in your sport as an athlete, or even as a coach.

First Aid and CPR Certifications

First aid and CPR are typically NGB-required certifications for keeping your coaching license current. If you are not certified, I’d highly recommend taking a first-aid class. Check with your local Red Cross office on class availability. As a coach, the chance that you’ll have to use such skills is quite high.

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