The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) accredits biomechanists in one of two categories: research and scientific support services. Sport and exercise biomechanists also fulfil educational and consultancy roles. These four categories of professional activity are outlined in the following subsections and broadly cover how we apply our skills. Not all sport and exercise biomechanists are actively involved in all four of these roles; for example, some of us are accredited by BASES for either research or scientific support services rather than for both.
Both fundamental and applied research are important for the investigation of problems in sport and exercise biomechanics. Applied research provides the necessary theoretical grounds to underpin education and scientific support services; fundamental research allows specific applied research to be developed. Sport and exercise biomechanics requires a research approach based on a INTRODUCTION 3 mixture of experimentation and theoretical modelling.
Many of the problems of the experimental approach are outlined in Chapters 2 to 8. It is now undoubtedly true that more sport and exercise biomechanists in the UK provide scientific support services to sports performers and coaches, and clients in the exercise and health sector, than engage in full-time research. In this ‘support’ role, we biomechanists use our scientific knowledge for the benefit of our clients. This usually involves undertaking a needs analysis to ascertain the client’s requirements, followed by the development and implementation of an intervention strategy.
First, we seek to understand the problem and all of its relevant aspects. Then the appropriate qualitative or quantitative analytical techniques are used to deliver the relevant scientific support: in scientific support work, these are far more often qualitative than quantitative, although this is not reflected in the contents of this book. Sport and exercise biomechanists then provide careful interpretation of the data from our analyses, translating our science into ‘user friendly’ terms appropriate to each problem and each client.
Increasingly, this scientific support role for sport and exercise biomechanists has a multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary focus. This may involve the person concerned having a wider role than simply biomechanics, for example by also undertaking notational analysis of games as a performance analyst or advising on strength and conditioning. It may also involve biomechanists working in inter-disciplinary teams with other sport and exercise scientists, medical practitioners or sports technologists.