The use of sports science in preparation for Olympic competition


The Olympic Games represents the pinnacle of most athletes' careers and as the memories of Beijing 2008 fade, the focus now is very clearly on Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 and the preparation programmes that will lead to optimal performance. Over the last 25 years, there has been a significant growth in the importance of sports science in assisting, improving, and monitoring athlete preparation for the Olympic Games. Most individual athletes and teams will have several sport scientists who are integral to both the preparation phase and at the Olympic Games themselves. In this special issue, we have brought together a number of review papers from several disciplines with a coherent focus on optimizing preparation for Olympic competition. More specifically, the papers in this issue cover fatigue management, the influence of technology, skill acquisition, physiological monitoring, talent identification and development, and psychological preparation. What is clear from the literature is that despite the increased involvement from the sport sciences, there is still a considerable lack of information on Olympic athletes with most of the literature describing good, but not Olympic, athletes. The gathering of detailed information on Olympic athletes is difficult due to the risk of disrupting preparation programmes, the very small number of participants, and the statistical difficulties in assessing worthwhile change at this elite standard of competition. In particular, these difficulties make the evaluation of different preparation strategies and the associated advice given to athletes and coaches extremely problematic.


R. C. Richard Davison
A. Mark Williams
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