Performance Sports Scientist

Job Description:

Sports scientists use knowledge of how the body works to help people improve their health or sporting ability.

Job Category:
Culture, Media & Sport

What you will do:

You could work with elite sports professionals, or in research, healthcare or industry. Your day to day tasks will depend on the type of organisation you work for.

You could:

  • help sports coaches and sports therapists to improve individual and team performance
  • work with doctors to help people improve their health through exercise and fitness
  • look at ways that health and fitness can be used to prevent or treat medical conditions like diabetes, heart conditions or cancer
  • take part in research projects
  • offer advice on the design and manufacture of sports equipment


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • the ability to work closely with athletes, coaches, and sports professionals to optimize performance, design training programs, and monitor progress (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • excellent written & verbal communication skills
  • strong analytical skills and attention to detail
  • a passion for sports and human performance (drive)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course


You could take a degree in sport and exercise science. Courses that cover the 3 foundation subjects of biomechanics, physiology and psychology, will keep your job options broad.

Alternatively you could do a degree in a science related subject followed by a postgraduate qualification in sports science.

This may include subjects like:

  • physical education
  • natural sciences
  • physiology
  • psychology

It’s becoming more common for sports scientists to have or be working towards a postgraduate qualification.

Some universities will expect you to have studied physical education or a science subject like biology. A degree in sport and exercise science or in another relevant subject may also help you to gain entry to a degree in sports science.

Career tips

Experience as fitness instructor, lifeguard, coach or through volunteering, for example with a sports club, may improve your career prospects.

It will help you stand out in a competitive jobs market if you have additional qualifications like:

  • First Aid
  • gym instructing
  • safeguarding

School Subjects

To become a Performance Sports Scientist in the UK, you should focus on GCSE subjects that provide a strong foundation in science, particularly biology and sports-related topics, such as:

  1. Biology: Biology is a core subject for understanding human anatomy, physiology, and the principles of sports science.
  2. Physical Education (PE): PE can provide insights into sports training methods, biomechanics, and exercise physiology.
  3. Mathematics (optional): Basic mathematical skills can be beneficial for analyzing data related to athlete performance.
  4. Chemistry (optional): While not mandatory, studying Chemistry can be helpful in understanding physiological processes and nutrition.
  5. Physics (optional): Physics can provide insights into biomechanics and the principles of movement in sports.
  6. English (optional): Strong communication skills are important for conveying scientific findings and collaborating with athletes and coaches.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 37-39 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends attending events or appointments.

You could work in a public or private hospital, on a sports field, at a research facility, in an office, at a client’s business or at a fitness centre. Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

Career Path & Progression:

You could find work with universities, schools and colleges, large sporting organisations, public and private enterprises and local authorities. It’s also possible to become self-employed or to work as a consultant.

You could also move into a related career area, like sports development or performance testing and research.