net interdisciplinary connect

Skills focus: Interdisciplinary

Interdisciplinary skills are not going to go away, in fact looking forward they’re only going to be increasingly required in your work as a sports scientist, applying knowledge to the elite performer

Interdisciplinary skills What do I mean by this?

Interdisciplinary means integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines, using a real synthesis of approaches.

This differs from multidisciplinary – which is more about individuals pulling from their own disciplines

This differs from cross discipline – which is about viewing one discipline from the perspective of another.

These are different – understanding this give you an advantage.

So when it comes to developing interdisciplinary skill, the first perspective you need to recognise and have the skill to ‘catch yourself’ with if you fall into the trap, is viewing every problem through the lens of your discipline, knowledge base and proven abilities. This is known as, “If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

At worst this comes across as blinkered. If you become persistent in promoting your monodisciplinary idea then you run the risk as being seen a belligerent. It’s also likely that you will be supervised by some wise old owls (coach, experience professional), who will see a bigger picture than the one you’re seeing – so it is likely that you will be seen as inexperienced, lacking impact and so less likely to be brought into the equation when people are needed to create solutions.

Key actions
The first step is to get practiced at ‘nesting’ your solution with wider perspectives. For example; (psychology example)

“I think we should focus on developing a pre-performance routine”.

This would be upgraded by seeing the value other disciplines can bring to enhance this process.

“For us to get this right we should speak to a nutritionist to ensure the fuelling is effective, S&C coach to see if we can get some priming effects, physiotherapist to see if there are some therapeutic needs – and we will create a prioritised plan to increase your physical and mental readiness”.

The second step is to ensure your work is not blown out of proportion and can find it’s appropriate level of importance. Asking/ negotiating/ persuading people to engage in your ideas is a proactive step but if everyone is asking an athlete or coach to apply priority to everything then nothing becomes a priority. Seek counsel with other experts and get an understanding of where the idea and schedule of work fits into the priority. This shows maturity and a focus on creating impact – above that of promoting your own idea.

Advanced tips

  • Employers are actively looking for interdisciplinary skills – so you should be profiling this in your job applications. Mention work that has involved several discipline inputs. If you haven’t got a good example – create an opportunity to bring others into your work and then you’ll have one!
  • Employers need this – so you should be conscious in meetings, conversations, decision to be willing to widen the perspective beyond your area, ask “Who else could have an informed opinion, would have an insight, should know, might agree or disagree or be involved?”
  • One-to-one clients might not be expecting you to widen the net of inputs but if you are results focused for them then you will be willing to say, “I think we need extra expertise to create the best solution for you”

If you’re ambitious to develop your impact you will be active in prioritising inputs that advance the effectiveness of the solution – not just promoting your expertise. In the long run this will develop you, your utility and your reputation.

Our online courses have interdisciplinary skills running all the way through them. Here are the lessons that can support you;

Graduate to Performance students

Kickstart performance skills

Physiology students

Psychology students

PA students

S&C students

Nutrition students