Have you ever wanted a career in sports? You don’t have to be a professional athlete to make this dream come true.
Behind every individual athlete or team victory, there are STEM professionals at work. Sports and technology are overwhelmingly intertwined in today’s world. From designing Paralympic equipment to biochemical engineers working on faster recovery of athletes’ damaged tissues, they all have one unifying denominator: sports.
How do science, engineering, technology and sports work together? Except for the most obvious careers in sports such as coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, physical therapist, or sport psychologist, there are many other opportunities out there. Here are a few more interesting and essential careers in sports:
This is a very broad field with many applications. In general, sports engineers develop new technologies for the sports industry. Many sports engineers have a background in biomechanics or electrical engineering, physics, computer science or medical physics. They can focus on analyzing movement, gear testing, aerodynamics, designing new materials or equipment, developing software and hardware, or building prototypes for Paralympians.
Not to be confused with sports engineers, sport scientists are more focused on the “inside” of the athlete’s body. They may research the best recovery regimen for a professional athlete or develop training techniques in order to achieve optimal results. For example, sports scientists are able to use stem cell treatment in order to help athletes recover faster. These stem cells, found in bone marrow and fat tissue, are injected to the injured areas. They are able to “grow into new bone, cartilage, muscle or connective issue, helping to speed up the recovery”.
Material and Gear developer
Designing and developing new materials for sports apparel, such as protective helmets or mouth protection are essential in many sports, especially in American football or snowboarding. Recent research has shown that the cumulative effects of multiple hits and concussions could be linked to brain injuries and possible later cognitive problems.
While improving the gear, researchers try to minimize the durability, air or water friction and “make unimaginable things become reality”. When the new “body suit” mimicking shark skin was introduced in 2000 in swimming, it caused a revolution in the sport. Later, new versions were even able to cut down on fatigue and give swimmers more buoyancy and speed. However, the full body swimsuits were banned in 2010 and were not allowed to be used in Olympics or other competitions since.
Many major companies such as Nike or Feetz are already using 3D printing of their shoes. This new technology delivers custom-designed, lightweight, and strong shoes for athlete’s unique feet. This technology is expected to become more widespread in the future as 3D shoes will help athletes to perform at the top level and can be a game changer in certain sports.
Video analysis or app developer
In order to bring sports to the homes and personal devices of fans, various apps and software need to be constantly developed. One great example of a video analysis software is called Dartfish. It is used to capture cameras or live stream from internet and analyze “motion and tactical performance for athletes and teams”. Sprongo, online version of a similar analysis program, can also be used to compare and overlay performances side-by side or overlay athletes. These software programs are used for all kinds of sports including whitewater kayaking, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, and track and field.
To find out about how can sports save STEM careers, read this article.