BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP: SPORT SCIENCE SERVICES FOR U.S. DIVING

  • Jeni R. McNeal

Abstract

Applied biomechanists must often cross the bridge from science to practice. Practitioners and scientists should work together in a seamless and supportive manner. Many models for integrating sport science services into high-performance sport have been used, with varying results (Benton, 2003; Wang, 2005). In the United States, the sport of diving has included science in its high-performance programs for more than 25 years, using a variety of models (McLaughlin, 2007). Initially, sport science was integrated into the performance program as a budget item, offering funding to proposals put forth from specific sport science and medicine disciplines, typically from University academics. An annual sport science and technology conference was funded and served as the primary means by which research findings were provided to coaches. In 2002, USA Diving adopted an interdisciplinary approach of sport science and sports medicine services in the continuing quest for podium finishes. A Performance Enhancement Team (PET) was created which included specialists in nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, medicine, and psychology. Interaction with coaches and athletes occurred primarily at bi-annual training camps, and included educational presentations, data collection and assessment, and individual feedback to athletes and coaches from the PET. Following the 2008 Olympics, the PET and its organizational tenets were dissolved. A new high performance director was hired, bringing a fresh view of diving excellence and a reduced attention to sport science and medicine services. In the London Games, USA diving won its first Olympic medals in 12 years (n = 4), including our first medals in the synchronized events. This paper will discuss the author’s experiences as a contributor to sport science services with USA Diving during the past 20 years, present research and service successes and challenges, and suggest tactics for future sport science practitioners integrating their services with sport national governing bodies.
Published
2014-09-30