Skip links and keyboard navigation

Sport Science disciplines


Physiology in the context of sport science is the study of how humans function including such processes as nutrition and movement. Physiologists study how athletes respond to their environment. For example, to extremes of temperature (in hot versus cold conditions), to changes in altitude, and under fatiguing conditions.

A key function is to monitor athletes in training and competition to accurately assess the level of stress placed on athletes. This involves the measurement of a range of physiological variables including cardiovascular, neuromuscular, hormonal, blood and performance variables. Physiologists with coaches, athletes and other scientists in monitoring performance and the demands in both training and competition settings.


Biomechanics is the study of forces and the effects of those forces on and within the human body. Whenever a force is applied to the body, biomechanists analyse and interpret its cause and effect. QAS biomechanists are involved in the observation, measurement and analysis of training and competition performance and use their expertise to support coach understanding and athlete development.

As an example, Instrumented starting blocks are used to assess an athlete's sprint start providing useful information on forces applied to the blocks and resulting velocity and acceleration. A Speedprobe device is also used extensively with a number of QAS programs including the swimming squad to assess athletes swimming stroke by measuring the fluctuations in velocity between strokes. It is also used with the BMX program to assess technique and identify optimal gear ratios.

The construction of the QAS Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre in 2008, which includes a state of the art recovery centre and a 4 lane 25m pool which is equipped with an extensive range of biomechanical testing equipment and as such is one of the leading scientific pools in the world. The Performance Science team is responsible for the operation of all biomechanical testing equipment at the QAS Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre.

Skill Acquisition

Skill Acquisition is the application of an evidence-based approach to assist athletes acquire, develop and control their skills to enhance their execution and ultimately their performance. Skill acquisition specialists use their understanding of motor control and learning - from conscious efforts to learn a task to the extreme when multi-tasking and making decision, as well as their assessment in the fatigued and competitive environment.

Skill acquisition staff apply this expertise regularly with coaches and athletes and conduct research to design training programs that give both coaches and athletes a competitive advantage.

This includes applications such as:

  • Designing innovative practise approaches to aid athletes in accelerating their skill development
  • Assessing how athletes combine their awareness of their surrounds and their motor skills to perform multiple complex tasks in their sport
  • Utilising various available technologies to assist in feedback and skill learning such as 2D or 3D video

Performance Analysis

The Sport Science Unit has an integrated approach to the observation and analysis of performance in training and competition environments. This approach draws upon the distinctiveness of disciplined biomechanics' insights and the emerging methodologies and theoretical insights offered by skill acquisition.

All three disciplines require an extensive understanding of the demands of performance in order to provide support in their own area of expertise. It is also critical all staff have a multidisciplinary approach to providing evidenced-based support in order to understand the complex interactions between the disciplines.

Performance analysis underpins each of the major discipline as physiologists, biomechanists and skill acquisition specialists are interested in the use of information and communications technology by coaches to develop athlete performance in training and competition environments. One of the key features of performance analysis is its integration of disciplined insights into learning and performance. These insights range from the 'expert' observations a coach makes to those that sports scientists, sports medicine practitioners and physical therapists provide. 

Performance analysis in the training and competition environments tends to share the following characteristics. They:

  • make a permanent record of performance
  • systematically observe and analyse aspects of performance
  • provide quantitative and qualitative information.

Coaches use this process to compile objective and reliable observations of performance that can then be used to assess performance and promote learning and improved subsequent performance.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Megan Shephard
Senior Performance Scientist
07 3708 7800 (QAS Reception)

Last updated
16 January 2018