Students at Bond University’s newest Masters Degree may never lace-up a boot or crouch on starting blocks but they could still influence Australia’s Olympic standing, capture the AFL Premiership or better the nation’s Football World Cup record.
Bond University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine recently launched its Masters of High Performance Science degree.
Designed in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) and academics from Bond University, the evidence-based degree focuses on the high performance science of elite sport. It will be the first degree of its kind in Australia.
“Elite sport has undergone an incredible transformation in the last decade. There is now such a fine margin between winning gold and coming second,’’ said Bond University’s Professor Greg Gass.
“If you review the Beijing Olympics, the Australian team didn’t perform as well in gold medals as it did in Athens (in 2004) especially in areas like swimming and cycling. (In Beijing) we had world record holders in swimming who didn’t win (the) gold (medal) – how do we explain that? The new Master of High Performance Science will contribute to the explanation and debate.
“The Masters Degree will use an evidence-based approach incorporating problem-based learning to find out how we get our athletes to shave that extra 0.1 of a second off their time on competition day, or understand why players make poor decisions at critical junctures in a game.’’
The role of high performance managers has increased in importance as factors such as technology, sponsorship, and media rights place greater demands on elite sportspeople.
High performance managers should sit at the right-hand of the head coach and play a very important role, providing evidence-based and strategic advice on everything from diet to training, psychology and communication, decision-making and technology and innovation.
With Australia ‘punching above its weight’ in international sport, Professor Gass said the nation’s performance on the global sporting stage could be a valuable branding tool.
“Australia’s results are envious considering the size of our population is much smaller than many countries we compete against,’’ he said.
“Whenever Australia stands on the dais, wins Wimbledon or makes the World Cup, the brand recognition of Australia is considerable.
“Sport can be a tremendous instrument for international policy. Kimi Raikonnen’s performances in Formula One did wonders for Finland in brand recognition.’’
The degree focuses on training and adaptation, molecular biology, cognitive science, doping and detection, technology and strategic decision making.
The one year (fulltime) course also explores areas such as negotiation and dispute resolution which has emerged as a major influence in the corporatisation of professional sport.
“There are many external factors involved in performance which can have a major influence on the final result. Sponsors, board executives, media opportunities and personal relationships can influence the performance of our elite athletes.
“The high performance manager has to determine the optimum strategies to get the absolute best out of the athlete: this involves a multitude of factors like when the best time is to travel; what time of day should athletes exercise; what should athletes eat the night before or drink at half-time; what do players think about when scores are even; and the whole area of dose and response.
The Master of High Performance Science is currently on offer.