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Technology helping athletes fast track better performances

Submitted on Tuesday, 10th July 2018

Dr Alice Sweeting grew up wanting to be a vet.

Her love of sport – she played tennis, netball, hockey and was also a competitive swimmer and athlete – and interest as a student in studying maths, biology, English literature and PE meant that she could combine both into a career studying sports science.

A researcher at Victoria University (VU), Dr Sweeting delivers a range of customised sports science services to players and coaches at AFL club the Western Bulldogs.

Dr Sweeting is excited to be one of the presenters at the next ignite event on 20 July at the MCG.

Enhancing human performance through innovation in elite sports is the theme of the next edition of the ignite innovation series – an exciting collaboration between the Victorian Chamber, Victorian universities, CSIRO, businesses and the Victorian Government to showcase Victoria’s revolutionary industry-linked innovation and research capabilities.

This free event will be an opportunity to learn about how local research is helping re-shape sports science and how collaborating with VU can get innovative projects off the ground.

Dr Sweeting will highlight how technology can provide individualised training programs for athletes and how the data monitoring generates can be used to further enhance their performances.

The Victorian Chamber interviewed Dr Sweeting to gather her insights about Victoria’s innovation and get know the person behind the research.

Vic Chamber: Do you think Victoria’s love of sport is a strong catalyst for innovative research and technology ‘on and off’ the field?
Dr Sweeting: Most definitely. The number of elite sporting organisations, outstanding facilities, world-class events and leading sport-science universities makes Victoria a very strong place to study, work and love sport. We are very well-placed to capitalise and make Victoria the place to be for innovative research and technology production in sport.

Vic Chamber: Why do you believe Victoria is regarded as a leader in innovation and technology?
Dr Sweeting: The research institutes, universities and people residing in Victoria make it a great place for knowledge exchange and the development of ideas.

Vic Chamber: Can you give an example of ground-breaking research you’ve been involved in?
Dr Sweeting: I was fortunate to complete my PhD with Netball Australia and the Australian Netball Diamonds, one of Australia’s most successful sporting teams. In my thesis, I validated a radio-frequency tracking system that was originally developed to monitor where vehicles and workers were operating in underground mines. My research examined the types of movement performed by elite netballers during matches – important information for the design of training and performance analysis. The system has since been commercialised and is now used in the AFL, NRL and even trialled in the NBA.

Vic Chamber: You’ve achieved a great deal in your career to date. What motivates you every day?
Dr Sweeting: I enjoy helping people, whether it is working with a research (PhD) student on writing their thesis, visualising performance data for a coach or working directly with an athlete. I also really enjoy the people I work with, including other researchers at VU and the variety of my work. I could be in the coach’s box on match day then working with a student on analysing their data.

Vic Chamber: What needs to happen to enhance collaboration between university researchers and the business community? Can you think of an example?
Dr Sweeting: I believe university researchers would do well to listen to the needs of business and, equally, business would need to understand that some research, by nature, does take time to do well.

To learn more about Dr Sweeting’s work and Victoria’s innovation, you can join us at ignite+VU. Register now for this FREE event.

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