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Editorial Thomas Reilly



Liverpool Polytechnic Published online: 01 Feb 2008.

To cite this article: Thomas Reilly (1990) Editorial, Journal of Sports Sciences, 8:3, 201-202, DOI: 10.1080/02640419008732145 To link to this article:

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Journal of Sports Sciences, 1990, 8, 201-202


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Science applied to specific sports

The position of sports science as a valid area of academic enquiry is no longer seriously questioned. The past two decades have witnessed this field grow and ripen. The application of science to sport and exercise has gained respectability within the parent disciplines, for example sports biomechanics, exercise biochemistry, exercise and sports physiology, sports psychology, sociology of sport, and so on. A new maturity became apparent as the sports sciences were increasingly applied to address problems in particular sports rather than to sport in general. This specificity of application has been reflected in the growing body of literature and scientific conferences geared towards particular sports. Arguably, the richest and longest tradition has been in swimming, with the sequence of symposia on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming. The series was inaugurated in Brussels in 1970 and organized by Jan Clarys and Leon Lewillie. Subsequent symposia were held at Brussels (1974), Edmonton (1978), Amsterdam (1982), Bielefeld (1986) and Liverpool (1990). Abstracts of communications at the most recent event (7-11 September 1990) will be published in the next issue of this journal. The expressed aim of the Vlth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming is to provide a forum in which research related to swimming is reported and problems that confront swimming practitioners are debated. Although 'science and swimming' has had the longest history, other sports are beginning to benefit from the formal congregation of experts with a feel for the sport in question. These developments have been actively stimulated by the World Commission of Sports Biomechanics, strategically well placed to do so with its responsibilities to the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) and to the International Council for Sports Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE). Such initiatives have included the Congresses of Science and Football, inaugurated at Liverpool in 1987 and followed up with the Second World Congress of Science and Football at Eindhoven (21-25 May 1991) and the First World Scientific Congress of Golf held at the University of St. Andrews the week preceding the 1990 British Open Golf Championships. The Proceedings of these meetings (Reilly et al., 1987; Cochran, 1990) testify to the range and level of research work currently being pursued. Arguably, the combination of sports sciences focusing on a particular sport with a single lens represents a high-point of sports science. The feel for the sport concerned provides a basis for integrating the disciplines in an interdisciplinary manner. Yet not all of the seeds of this specificity of application have taken root. Modestly mounted local and regional meetings (on track and field, racquet sports, motor sports, and so on) bore no universal fruit. Other endeavours such as 'Science and Winter Sports', scheduled for Calgary in conjunction with the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, fell foul of organizational obstacles. Nevertheless, the 0264-0414/90 $03.00 + .12 © 1990 E. & F.N. Spon Ltd.

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material due for presentation at Calgary was not lost to the sports science community, part of it being published in this journal in a special issue on 'Science and Winter Sports' (Vol. 5, No. 3). Minority sports such as archery are likely to have difficulty in attracting large gatherings or stimulating the sponsorship now needed to underpin a major scientific congress of international repute. This is partly due to the small number of research groups with expertise in applying scientific principles to this sport. The collection of papers in this volume represents an attempt to bring together various approaches towards research in archery and ensure that the findings are not dispersed throughout different periodicals. Some of the papers were due for presentation at the First World Congress of Science and Archery, originally planned for Brussels (Belgium) and held under the aegis of the World Commission of Sports Biomechanics. Due to a late withdrawal of support from the sponsors, the Congress was cancelled. Publication of this collection assures that noteworthy material is salvaged for the sports science community, especially for those with an interest in target sports. Archery is a sport with obvious opportunities for applying scientific know-how. In many respects, the potential has been realized. Technological improvements in bow design, for example, have contributed to outstanding performance scores at top-level competitions that approach the highest attainable. It can be argued that imperfection now lies mainly with the human factor. In this present issue, some fundamental experimental techniques are used to further understand the role of muscle activity, the timing of the loose and the physiological concomitants of the loose. These studies should serve as platforms for further work in archery as well as models for future investigations in other aiming and target sports. This issue also includes Abstracts of Communications to the Sport and Science Conference that forms the scientific component of the Annual Meeting of the British Association of Sports Sciences. In contrast to the archery manuscripts, the content of the abstracts demonstrates the variety of research topics currently addressed by workers in the UK. This diversity is also an essential part of sports science as we have come to recognize and call it. Liverpool Polytechnic


References Cochran, A.J. (1990) Science and Golf. London: E. and F.N. Spon. Reilly, T., Lees, A., Davids, K. and Murphy, W.J. (1987) Science and Football. London: E. and F.N. Spon.

Science applied to specific sports.

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