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Coopetition: cooperation among competitors to enhance applied research and drive innovation in elite sport
  1. Carlos Ramírez-López1,2,3,
  2. Kevin Till1,4,
  3. Andy Boyd5,
  4. Mark Bennet6,7,
  5. Julien Piscione8,
  6. Sam Bradley9,10,
  7. Pierosario Giuliano11,
  8. Cedric Leduc1,
  9. Ben Jones1,2,4,12,13
  1. 1 Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) centre, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  2. 2 England Performance Unit, Rugby Football League, Leeds, UK
  3. 3 Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Union Football Club, Leeds, UK
  4. 4 Leeds Rhinos Rugby League club, Leeds, UK
  5. 5 Scottish Rugby Union, Edinburgh, UK
  6. 6 Rugby Union of Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation
  7. 7 Rugby Football Union, London, UK
  8. 8 Federation Francaise de Rugby, Paris, Île-de-France, France
  9. 9 English Institute of Sport, Manchester, Manchester, UK
  10. 10 Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff, UK
  11. 11 Federazione Italiana Rugby, Milano, Lombardia, Italy
  12. 12 School of Science and Technology, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  13. 13 Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Carlos Ramírez-López, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds LS6 3QS, UK; c.ramirez{at}

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The essence of competition is often understood as a situation of mutually exclusive goal attainment, where one side succeeds only if another does not. However, and as studied by the game theory, this standard view may be too narrow and simplistic when trying to understand complex interactions.1 Researchers in business and management have expanded on this and explored cases of simultaneous cooperation and competition (ie, coopetition) as the most complex but advantageous relationship among competitors and as an effective strategy to drive innovation.2

Scientific innovation can be crucial for maximising athletes’ health and performance, which has resulted in a growing interest in sports science and medicine (SSM). Innovation through research helps develop training models, medical treatments and recovery methods3 but the practical relevance of some fundamental studies is often hindered by their poor ecological validity. Tightly controlled conditions can create an artificial sample of athletes and circumstances which are not truly representative of daily practice, allowing for the gap between research and practice to persist. Applied research aims to bridge that gap by developing ecologically valid evidence and can be further enhanced by embedding …

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  • Twitter @CarlosRam88, @ktconditioning, @ajboyd83, @EliteSC7, @JPiscione, @samabradley, @CLeduc13, @23benjones

  • Contributors CR-L adapted the theory and developed the framework. KT, AB, MB, JP, SB, PG, CL and BJ made substantial contributions by discussing, challenging and further developing the original ideas. All authors critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.