Strudwick: Sports science must adapt to 'seismic changes'

Tony Strudwick (right)

Tony Strudwick (right)

MANCHESTER UNITED head of performance Tony Strudwick has marked his 20th year in professional football by charting the ‘seismic changes’ he has seen in sports science and laying out the challenges ahead.

Writing in the Football Medic and Scientist Magazine, Strudwick remembers: “This journey has taken me from an internship within the Academy of Coventry City to a role at Manchester United, back within the Academy setting.

“There have been seismic changes in the football landscape and indeed the role of sports science. Football no longer trails behind rugby, athletics or American sports in terms of intellectual property and/ or skilled practitioners.

Tony Strudwick

Tony Strudwick CV:

  • Man Utd (head of performance): Jan 2015 - present
  • Blackburn Rovers (head of fitness & conditioning): Oct 2005 - Aug 2007
  • West Ham (head of fitness & conditioning): Dec 2003 - Oct 2005
  • Football Association (exercise scientist): June 2001 - Dec 2003
  • Coventry City (exercise scientist): Aug 1998 - June 2001

“Three decades ago, the football environment was one in which the scientist was likely to be greeted ‘at worst with suspicion and hostility and at best with muted scepticism’.”

Strudwick, who has been head of performance at United since January 2015, defines sports science as “a discipline that studies the application of scientific principles and technique with the aim of improving sporting performance”.

“Sports science also helps practitioners understand the physical and psychological effects of a sport thereby providing the best techniques and the most appropriate methods of preventing injuries,” he adds. Strudwick says sports science now “needs to shape and redefine its position in contemporary professional football”.

EPPP requirements (Cat 1 academy):

  • Head of sports science and medicine
  • Lead sports scientist
  • Strength & conditioning coach
  • Two performance analysts

One key objective should be to “create career pathways and future platforms for talented young sports scientists”.

He says estimates are that between 9,000 and 15,000 students will exit sports science undergraduate courses each year, with another 1,200 MSc students graduating.

“Sports science is now the most popular degree course in the UK, with 82 institutions offering subject-related courses," he writes. "We have a responsibility to push the boundaries of our own subject matter to improve the football experience of players and staffs alike."

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