Sport Science Integration: An Evolutionary Synthesis

Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Feb;17(1):51-62. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2016.1198422. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


The aim of the paper is to point out one way of integrating the supposedly incommensurate disciplines investigated in sports science. General, common principles can be found among apparently unrelated disciplines when the focus is put on the dynamics of sports-related phenomena. Dynamical systems approaches that have recently changed research in biological and social sciences among others, offer key concepts to create a common pluricontextual language in sport science. This common language, far from being homogenising, offers key synthesis between diverse fields, respecting and enabling the theoretical and experimental pluralism. It forms a softly integrated sports science characterised by a basic dynamic explanatory backbone as well as context-dependent theoretical flexibility. After defining the dynamic integration in living systems, unable to be captured by structural static approaches, we show the commonalities between the diversity of processes existing on different levels and time scales in biological and social entities. We justify our interpretation by drawing on some recent scientific contributions that use the same general principles and concepts, and diverse methods and techniques of data analysis, to study different types of phenomena in diverse disciplines. We show how the introduction of the dynamic framework in sport science has started to blur the boundaries between physiology, biomechanics, psychology, phenomenology and sociology. The advantages and difficulties of sport science integration and its consequences in research are also discussed.

Keywords: Sport science; dynamical systems theory; integration; interdisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Studies*
  • Psychology, Sports*
  • Science
  • Sports Medicine*
  • Sports*