Foreign elite sport research system: design and key fields

PhD M.V. Aranson1
PhD E.S. Ozolin1
Dr.Hab., Professor B.N. Shustin1
1Russian Federal Research Center of Physical Culture and Sports (VNIIFK), Moscow

Keywords: Olympic sports, research, trainings, cycling sports, academic rowing, track sports

Background. The growing demand for information about and digests of the modern sport science development trends is quite natural albeit it should be mentioned that the national analytical works to sort out and summarize the key developments and produce research progress digests are still rather inconsistent in fact [1]; in contrast to the foreign analyses and digests that are normally rather categorical and topic- and period-specific. Thus J. Dart [4] offers a sport psychology progress analysis for the last 25 years, with classification of the priority research thrusts and developments of special interest for the sport community and the still underexplored research fields. University analysts in China, Belgium and Hungary [6] have studied the present situation with the multilateral cooperation in the sport science. An example of a special analysis may be found in the overview of the so called reflective practice studies in the modern sport psychology [5].

On the whole, overviews of the sport science accomplishments and progress trends may be interpreted as the highly productive tool making it possible to highlight the most promising fields for research, digest the developments and design and schedule research works within a specific timeframe. Regretfully, the national science is still in need of the large-scale sport science analyses and digests. In our previous studies for the last few years we have made attempts to analyze the most promising research avenues for specific sport groups and sport disciplines [2-3]; and we believe that such analyses are indispensable for the initiatives to design, manage and coordinate research activities.

Objective of the study was to highlight the most promising progress avenues for and popular research process design options in the foreign sport science.

Methods and structure of the study. We analyzed for the study purposes the foreign theoretical and practical studies of the summer Olympic sport disciplines for the period of 2015-2017. The study gives a special attention to the study topics, their importance for the sport disciplines/ groups; their relevance for the sport insiders; contributions of the relevant agencies/ institutions including the health, education, research institutions, sport federations, clubs etc.; and the national compositions of the modern leading research teams. Sampled for the study were studies of the four Olympic cycling sports (road cycling, track cycling, mountain bike and BMX); track sports (endurance-intensive track sports); and academic rowing. On the whole, we have analyzed more than 1000 articles, abstracts, online publications and other theoretical and practical studies including patents. Of every pool of the sport-group- and discipline-specific studies we selected 18-20 works of special practical interest, in our opinion; followed by the expert valuations of the studies by the authors and expert team.

Results and discussion

Cycling sport

Studies of the modern road/ track cycling sports give a special priority to the competitive tactics; whilst the mountain bike and BMX sport studies are mostly focused on the physiology of sport-specific motor activity, skills and exercises. In addition, a special emphasis is made on the real-time performance test and control tools, particularly those equipped with the feedback systems. The training process design studies tend to give a special priority to some specific issues – e.g. pace control over the distance.

Academic rowing

It may be due to the specifics of this sport discipline that the study reports are mostly focused on the specific physical qualities and training process design options in context of the athlete’s physiology. Much attention is given to the training systems/ machines and the performance tests and control tools.

Cyclic track sports

Studies of the cyclic track sports give a high priority to the training system improvement tools followed by the injury prevention (including the overstress control) and water balance maintenance (in hot/ humid environments) methods.

Given in Table 1 hereunder are the priority study topics classified by the sport disciplines.

Table 1. Priority study topics classified by the sport disciplines

Sport discipline

Research priorities, % of the total

Training systems and tests

Biomechanical studies

Sport medicine and doping controls

Equipment

Other

Cycling sports

24,6

42,0

21,7

11,6

-

Academic rowing

22,2

44,5

11,2

22,2

-

Endurance-intensive track sports

35,7

28,6

7,1

21,4

7,0

Our analysis of the national compositions of the research team versus the study priorities and popularity rates showed that the leading research teams, regardless of the subject sport disciplines, include in most cases (91.7%) experts from the relevant academic education establishments; with the research projects often implemented by a few university teams working in close cooperation. Such partnerships are often established by the relevant universities, research/ medical centers (including the commercial ones), sport federations and Olympic committees, with up to 6 corporate partners contributing to the research in some cases. The leadership of universities in such joint sport research teams is explainable by the fact they normally offer the cutting-edge research technologies and equipment and have access to large and representative samples for the studies.

The national compositions of the study teams are generally consistent with the degrees of representation of the relevant nations in the global sport elite i.e. the nations that lead in some sports or close to taking the lead tend to encourage the relevant sport research projects: see Table 2. In some cases, the research teams are composed of a few national experts, with 16% of the teams including 2 experts from the leading sport nations; and 4% of the teams including 3+ national experts.

Table 2. Shares of the leading sport nations in the sport research teams, % of the total

Nations

Sports

Cycling sports

Academic rowing

Endurance-intensive track sports

Australia

18,8

5,6

11,8

Austria

1,4

-

-

Brazil

2,9

-

5,9

UK

24,6

16,7

29,4

Germany

-

-

5,8

Spain

8,7

-

-

Italy

5,8

-

-

Canada

2,8

22,3

5,9

China

1,4

-

11,6

New Zealand

5,8

5,6

5,9

Norway

2,9

--

-

USA

14,5

16,9

35,3

France

8,7

6,0

-

Sweden

4,3

-

-

South Korea

-

5,8

5,9

 

Note: National experts in the multinational research teams were also taken into account in the country-specific counts. Some research teams also included experts from the Netherlands, Tunisia, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Slovenia and Japan – and this is the reason why the totals may differ from 100%

The multinational research teams offer a few advantages including, for instance, the multiple and versatile benchmarking/ test systems; albeit it may be often challenging for them to work with a single sample. Such multinational research teams are particularly beneficial in cases of digests and large-scale analyses of the study reports and priority epidemiological studies that require extensive and complex data arrays for analyses.

Our study findings confirm the well-known correlation between the priority research thrusts in the national sport science with the national leadership in the relevant sport disciplines. The modern track sports, for instance, are driven by the comprehensively designed and tested training technologies, with the relevant research being often triggered by the frequent changes in the rules of competitions and increasingly stringent doping controls and sanctions. The relevant studies give a special priority to the sport-specific biomedical issues including biomechanics research projects viewed as a basis for progress of the training systems. It was further confirmed that at least one Olympic cycle is needed to verify the relevance of the research [1, 6]. It should be also noted that the Russian sport experiences and accomplishments have been widely analyzed and respected as verified by the citation indices of the national classical study reports. On the whole, the study model analyzed herein gives the grounds for the research community to prioritize, prudently design and manage the research project activity to attain the best possible practical benefits. The model, for instance, helps avoid duplication, inconsistency and narrow visioning in the new research projects to give a special priority to the most promising research thrusts and mine the most timely and relevant information about the similar research in the global sport science.

Conclusion

  • Priority research thrusts for the modern sport science will be designed to offer solutions for the most critical problems faced by the sport and improve the training systems.
  • Progress of the modern sport science is largely secured by the multinational research teams with experts from the nations holding the lead in the relevant sport disciplines; with a special contribution from the university experts, conditional on a sound representation of many relevant research centers in the research teams.
  • Analyzes and digests of the ongoing research topics and priorities help improve the research process quality to advance the modern elite sports.

References

  1. Aranson M.V., Ovcharenko L.N., Ozolin E.S. et al Analiz sovremennykh tendentsiy nauchnykh issledovaniy v sporte vysshikh dostizheniy [Study of current trends in scientific research in elite sports]. Vestnik sportivnoy nauki, 2016, no. 5, pp. 55-59.
  2. Aranson M.V., Ovcharenko L.N., Ozolin E.S. et al Fiziologicheskie osobennosti sportsmenov v velosipednom sporte (obzor zarubezhnykh issledovaniy) [Physiological characteristics of cyclists (foreign research review)]. XXX Mezhdunarodnaya konferentsiya 2017: «Nauchnye aspekty sovremennykh issledovaniy»[XXX International Conference 2017: "Scientific aspects of modern research"]. Moscow, August 30-31 2017. pp. 106-109.
  3. Aranson M.V., Shustin B.N. Sovremennye tendentsii nauchnykh issledovaniy v sportivnykh edinoborstvakh u zhenshchin [Modern trends in scientific research in women’s martial arts]. Scientia: Psihologiya i pedagogika, 2016, no. 3, pp. 31-34.
  4. Dart J.(2014). Sports review: A content analysis of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues and the Sociology of Sport Journal across 25 years. Available at: http://eprints.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/945/1/Sports%20review%20A%20content%20... access 11 May 2018
  5. Huntley E., Cropley, B., Gilbourne D., Sparkes A and Knowles Z. (2014) Reflecting back and forwards: An evaluation of peer-reviewed reflective practice in sport. Reflective practice 15 (6), 863-876. Available at: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/998/3/Huntley%2520et%2520al%2520(2014)%2520-%2520manuscript%5B1%5D.pdf (accessed 11 May 2018)
  6. Wang L., Thijs B. and Glдnzel W. (2015) Characteristics of International Collaboration in Sport Sciences Publications and Its Influence on Citation Impact. Scientometrics 105:843–62. Available at: https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/479633/1/MSI_1501.pdf (accessed 11 May 2018).

 

Corresponding author: info@vniifk.ru

Abstract

The study gives an analysis of the foreign elite sport research system, with a special analysis of the foreign theoretical and practical studies of the summer Olympic sport disciplines for the period of 2015-2017. The study gives a special attention to the study topics, their importance for the sport disciplines/ groups; their relevance for the sport insiders; contributions of the relevant agencies/ institutions/ centers including the health, education, research institutions, sport federations, clubs etc.; and the national compositions of the modern leading research teams. 

The study data and analyses give the grounds to highlight both the priority research fields of the highest interest for the foreign analysts and the still underexplored fields. The study demonstrates that the research projects are normally focused on the issues highly relevant for the specific sport discipline; and points to the growing contribution of the multilateral research teams to the process, with the leading role played by the academic science of the nations holding the lead in the relevant sports.