Every detail counts in preparations to deliver top performance. A top sports programme is therefore not complete without scientific expertise and innovation. As of today, TeamNL (NOC-NSF) is taking a new step that will advance team sports though science. At the European beach volleyball championships, TeamNL entered into a partnership with the Center for Human Movement Sciences/University Medical Center Groningen and the University of Groningen.
The Team Up! plan has been rolled out with financial assistance from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Many team sports will be given their own ‘embedded scientist’ within their coaching team. The scientist will examine the athletes, take daily measurements and use this data to advise the coach. The embedded scientists will meet regularly to exchange their knowledge.
‘The different team sports all face the same types of challenges,’ says Maurits Hendriks, technical director of TeamNL. ‘This means they have lots of information they can share. Teams train using GPS systems, heart-rate bands and jump sensors. These sports already have ample experience of which systems are user-friendly or not, which systems are accurate or not, and of the best way to present this information to coaches and players. By working on this together, teams can achieve quicker and better results. The idea behind Team Up! is to actively promote collaboration of this kind. For example, hockey programmes have been using sensor technology for quite a few years now to monitor training load. If another sport wants to start using that technology, they can go to the embedded scientist in the hockey team for advice.’
As well as deploying additional scientists, the Team Up! plan is investing in establishing a network of experts. The Center for Human Movement Sciences, which excels in research and expertise in the field of team sports, is working hard on this. Prof. Koen Lemmink, who heads the Center, has this to say about the plan: ‘Team Up! is an enormous step forwards when it comes to linking the ambitions of top sports and science. Working together to develop and apply new knowledge should take team sports in the Netherlands to an even higher level. We employ the latest technology and insights from data science. Now we can also work behind the scenes with top sportspeople. And with the Team Up! approach, we can involve other experts in this initiative. In other words, more medals, but also golden opportunities for science. In brief, a win-win situation!
‘With Team Up! we hope that the sportspeople and staff at TeamNL can learn even more from each other and reap the benefits,’ Hendriks concludes. ‘This ties in with our ambition: more medals in more sports with more impact. It’s great that the Ministry has made this possible and that the Center for Human Movement Sciences also sees the benefits and wants to help!’
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