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What Is Sports Kinesiology?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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Kinesiology is the study of the biomechanics of the body, concerning how it moves and how it should not move. Sports kinesiology is a specialized science within this field devoted to athletic endeavors. This includes studying the most effective anatomical manipulations to produce the best results in a variety of sports or to develop new equipment that allows for more safety or a better game.

Several universities offer undergraduate or graduate degrees in sports kinesiology. These often are part of broader degree programs in sports medicine or physical fitness. In total, this field entails a holistic approach, delving into fields as seemingly disparate as physics, anthropology, anatomy and bioengineering.

Sports kinesiology breaks down each sport to its anatomical core. In soccer, for instance, in-depth analyses are done to find different ways in which the foot should strike the ball to produce the best spin and velocity as well as how the arms and head should be positioned in relation to the feet. For goalies, sports kinesiologists will analyze the stances that provide the best coverage of the net and the anatomical requirements of leaping or catching the ball.

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The equipment itself is another key consideration in sports kinesiology. Howard Head used physics and biomechanical data in the 1960s to develop an aluminum tennis racket that improved on the wooden design in terms of face size and ball speed. The new racket was simultaneously lighter for players to handle as well. After this improvement, tennis became much faster.

Equipment improvements have been made in every sport through sports kinesiology. A fairly recent example involves the Adidas ball used in the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, which players complained about. Sports kinesiologists determined that the internal stitching, instead of the customary stitching on the exterior, may have caused difficulty in achieving the proper trajectory and even more difficulty for goalies trying to catch it.

By studying the biomechanics of various sports, sports kinesiologists are able to determine which muscle groups should be exercised the most and in what way to simulate the conditions on the field. This research also allows coaches and players to know which joints should be stretched the most before practice and games. By studying the movements of the best players in each sport, data also can be accumulated on which movements produce the most fruitful results on the field.

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