Mind Maps: Student Thoughts on Being an Applied Sport Scientist

In the first week of teaching Applied Sport Science, we ask the students to think on what it means to be an Applied Sport Scientist.  Specifically, “What are the key skills/characteristics/qualities/competencies required to work in the field of applied sport science?”

Here are the mind maps created from the responses of my students in all three of my classes this trimester:

I always enjoy this process.  The insights from students are often surprising, whether in their depth or in their variety.  I thought that the emphasis on specific competencies, like being able to conduct a maximal oxygen uptake test, was interesting in that it is probably reflective of the way sport science students are taught.  In other words, “If you know how to run these tests, then that makes you a sport scientist.”  Yet in the field, it is often the application of “soft skills” that is of most use: communication and delivery of information, maintaining beneficial relationships, conflict resolution, adaptability, eagerness to learn, and so on.  To that end, I was glad that each group highlighted the importance of experience.  As sport and exercise science encompasses so many disciplines, a Bachelor’s degree in E&SS is just a starting point for further explorations, both theoretical and practical in good measure.


  1. Sounds like a thoughtful class discussion. What class it this? Your students mention physiology knowledge but no mention of psychological aspects? Experience and individualization which I agree with are highly imporant. Maybe because this was a physiology class, they were pulling ideas from that aspect. After I got into coaching, as a young coach, I felt I had a solid foundation of physiology and training theory. I was ready to develop champions! However, found out really quick the imporance of mental training and self confidence. Really you can have all the knowledge in the world but to get your athletes to believe in your methods and build confidence in their own abilities, I thought were just as important.

    1. The class is a third year unit, called “Applied Sports Science 1”. You’re right, psychological aspects is conspicuously missing! Through this process, I like to let the students guide their collective answer to the original question. Not identifying psych as a critical component of applying sport science probably reflects on the fact that the School has a heavy lean towards physiology, so that would be the key discipline that they associate with E&SS.

      I’d echo similar personal experiences to the ones you’ve had about getting “buy in” from the athletes and developing their self-confidence. It reinforces a very simple concept, conveyed to me during my undergrad, that neatly summarises the field: “Sport science is a people business”. Thanks for your comment!

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