Sports Science: Which route for you?

So you’re enrolled in a sports science degree and wondering where this exciting subject is going to take you. It is normal at this stage to either;

a) have NO idea what sports science job you want to do (but you know you’d like to work in the area)

b) you have a rough idea or inclination towards one route or another

Well let’s get you up and running with some ideas, questions and pointers to help you out with some of your thoughts and potential first steps in your sports science career.

Getting an understanding of where, what and how you would like to work will really help you get ahead as a sports scientist. Breadth in your understanding of what role does what is helpful for your future teamwork, but having no idea what you want to do will mean you will be beaten to jobs by those who do.

Body, Mind, Movement

This division of the subject areas is the obvious way to test your inclination.


If you are interested in how the body works, training, limits of performance, growth, adaptation, injury, healthy, nutrients, preparation methods – then you’re more likely to engage in the following careers;

  • Sports Physiologist
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Sports Nutritionist
  • or possibly a physiotherapist


If you’re interested in how the brain works, behaviours, group dynamics, beliefs, confidence, actions, overcoming worries, as well as planning, gaining balance in life, looking after aspects of your overall life, well-being, how you run your life, income, relationships, transitions the you’re more likely to explore these careers;

  • Sports Psychologist
  • Performance lifestyle practitioner or player development


If you’re fascinated by tactics, technique, skills, patterns of play, optimisation of body positions, interaction of the human and equipment like technology – you might be more inclined to pursue a career in;

  • Sports Performance analysis
  • Biomechanics or ergonomics
  • Skill acquisition

Subjective, Objective

There are many other ways to divide the sports science career routes, as they’re so multi-faceted, but here’s an alternate view that if you contrast with Body, Mind, Movement, you might be getting a bit clearer still.


Sports performance careers in this area have a higher level of influence that’s based on inner experience or behaviours rather than quantifiable data (either because it is unmeasurable or because it is very difficult – think adherence and compliance to collect it). You’ll spot a few careers appear in both.

  • Sports Psychology
  • Performance lifestyle
  • Sports Nutrition (dominated by behaviour, quantifiable though not easily)
  • Physiotherapy (dominated by pain perception, ‘feel’ of tissues, high inter-observer variability)
  • Skill acquisition

Don’t confuse subjective with ineffective. Pursuing performance is often full of high emotions and that is why all careers can benefit from emotional intelligence.


Sports performance careers that have a higher level of objectivity to them benefit from being able to add numbers to the concepts (speed, blood haemoglobin, percentage tactical dominance). The added advantage is that there is an opportunity to make firmer, more confident decisions and recommendations based on a capability’s trend (improving or not). The downside of being founded in quantification is that a lot of practice can fail to move past this, i.e. we’ll measure everything and not make it useful.

  • Biomechanics
  • Sports Performance analysis
  • Sports Physiology
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Sports Nutrition (when quantifying bloods, food diaries, body composition)
  • Physiotherapy (when quantifying range, pain scales, medical scans)

A clear guide through the quagmire

We know that the upside of a career in sports science is it’s multi-disciplinary nature, but this can be confusing for you. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to each of the primary career routes. We’ve interviewed top (and we mean top) practitioners in the field of elite support and they’ve broken down the career routes to help you get ahead;

  • Career roles
  • Career route(s)
  • Essential qualifications and accreditations
  • Key experience
  • Key skills
  • Dos and Don’ts
  • Foundation knowledge
  • Books and top papers
  • CPD opportunities
  • Professional overlaps and key relationships
  • Top tips

Take a look at the Performance Careers Course

Know what sports performance job you want to do already?

If you know what type of sports performance career you want to go into then you’ll want to start getting experience. Why not sign up to this free webinar? You’ll discover how to find experience and once you’ve got an opportunity – how to thrive!