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The growth in the physical performance team in the elite sport environment has been exponential in recent times. There have never been more personnel involved in the preparation, recovery and injury management of athletes. The practitioners, all with varying and vast skill sets, often include sports physicians, physiotherapists, rehabilitation co-ordinators, strength and conditioning coaches and sports scientists. In some instances, the quest for elite performance has never been so well resourced. Though it must be said, this not true in all sports, including those with less public profile and funding, especially women's sports, which still lacks parity in many facets including the depth of the physical performance team. For the purposes of this editorial, we wish to turn our focus to the juxtaposition of science and medicine in sport and those environments where substantial physical performance teams exist.
Striving for improved performance often involves pushing the athlete to the limit of their capacity, with the ever-present risk of injury. In the perfect world, managing and minimising the risk of injury in athletes would be a collaborative effort, using all the expertise available within the physical performance team; using the experience and learnings from the diverse backgrounds of the team to identify at-risk athletes; instigate interventions to reduce the likelihood of injury and implementing screening and monitoring systems to give daily or weekly information to vindicate your approach or alert you to the need for closer re-examination.
All great in theory.
Anyone who has been involved, in any extent, in an elite sporting environment knows all too well the friction that can exist within the physical performance team. Often there are divergent viewpoints, typically, but not exclusively, between medical (doctor/physio) and performance (S&C and sport scientists) departments (and not to mention the coaching department!). Of course this diversity and robust debate …