Future thinking at Notre Dame - ACU high performance sport summit

Quantifying belief, wrangling data and rapid rehabilitation were among the burning issues for improving athlete performance and wellbeing as leading minds in Olympic and professional sport science shared their knowledge at a conference in the US.

Delegates at the Human Performance Summit: The 24-hour Athlete, jointly hosted in Indiana by the University of Notre Dame and the Australian Catholic University (ACU), were involved in conversations on innovative research and practices presented by experts from the NBA, NFL, NHL and Olympic disciplines.

ACU alumnus and Oklahoma City Thunder performance science lead Dr Blake McLean revealed the challenges of applying sports science research to professional sport given packed competition schedules and the demands placed on athletes. Buffalo Bills’ Applied Sports Scientist Jo Clubb spoke of similar challenges from the NFL and NHL perspectives, given her former role with the Buffalo Sabres.

“The Q&A and Think Tank sessions provided the chance to discuss and debate in small groups, which is not always the case at a conference. This summit is a must attend for those based in the US who want to learn from thought leaders in our industry," said ACU Master of High Performance Sport graduate Ms Clubb.

Dr David Martin (Philadelphia 76ers), a former senior sport physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, explored the balance between an athlete’s belief and their physical state.

Jordan Webb, Head of Sports Science at Notre Dame, teamed up with Notre Dame alumnus Kevin Hartman, Google’s Head of Analytics (Consumer, Government & Entertainment), to discuss challenges and future directions of data handling, interpretation and communication.

The Summit was the result of a partnership between the two universities which provides a US base for ACU’s Master of High Performance Sport students and an opportunity to undertake internships within Notre Dame’s collegiate sport programs.

“The tendency is for each practitioner to view our role – whether it be sports medicine, strength & conditioning, nutrition, psychology – in isolation, failing to consistently recognize that we are working with a total person who is managing the minutes, hours and days of their life,” Senior Associate Athletics Director at Notre Dame Mike Harrity said.

"This Summit was filled with powerful conversations around how we can best integrate all of the support services designed for each athlete’s wellbeing and personal growth."

“At Notre Dame we continually challenge ourselves to learn and grow as practitioners to enhance our support to 740 student-athletes across 26 teams. This Summit provides a global conversation with world-class practitioners to explore how we can help athletes maximize their growth and potential.”

The Summit provided postgraduate students with up-close access to many of the world’s top thinkers in performance science at Notre Dame’s South Bend Campus, as well as specific classes from ACU and Notre Dame staff on the implementation of the cutting-edge practices discussed at the Summit.

“It was great to have our US-based Master of High Performance Sport students involved in the Summit as part of their course,” ACU’s National Head of Exercise Science Professor Justin Kemp said.

“To have them interact with such high-quality presenters will provide a huge boost to their development as practitioners. We are proud to be working with Notre Dame to challenge the thinking of the industry’s current and future leaders.”

Next year’s Summit will be held at Notre Dame from 21 to 22 June.

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