How Did They Do That?

In football, there is a lot that happens between the downs, on the field and off.  During a game a fan or casual observer of the sport frequently asks how’d they do that or how does that work?  While most people are familiar with the current discussions about sports performance concussionconcussions and their identification, treatment, and prevention, a more avid fan might wonder why certain events (like the 40-yard dash, bench press, etc.), were chosen over others to measure the talent of NFL hopefuls.  I am excited to have some of these discussions here, where each week I will delve into aspects of both sport and life. As you might imagine, for professional athletes sport is life and their life off the field impacts their sport. Science gives us the formula of performance but without health and well-being performance is not consistently possible.  I hope to add perspective on athletes and sports through the lens of science and have some lighthearted fun in the process!

Professional sports directly influence all levels of play from college athletics down to high school and youth competitions.  Good or bad, right or wrong, sports at all levels have been and most likely will be, professionalized for years to come.  I will look at the positive side of what science tells us about the elite level of sport competition, training, and lifestyle as well as how that impacts the younger athletes you watch and support.  I will explore the science of how a quarterback makes his reads on the fields and finds the eligible receiver amid the chaos surrounding him. The same science that can explain that organized chaos can also improve our quality of life and abilities elsewhere.  I will examine sport science and its application to all of our lives in my future posts.

Sport is a microcosm of life, and one thing that influences our lives is technology.  Whether we are talking about one-pound laptops, tablets or smartphones, we are all influenced by advancement.  All aspects of sport conditioning, training, and competition are influenced by technology and I will review some of the familiar and unfamiliar, discovered and undiscovered, understood and misunderstood technology that apply to sport.

I am on the hunt for the next big technology that will impact the way the game is played.  If you think you are on the road to discovery please send me an email and tell me about your sport science product in development, precisely polished hardware, or software that represents the cutting edge sport science. I will take some time to become familiar with it and share it here on  While technology moves us and even scares us at times, if used right, it can create efficiencies and simplify our lives.  Applied sport technology does the same thing—it creates the potential for greater speed, efficiency, decision-making, wellness and overall performance.

One of the things that makes football interesting is its people and their many larger-than-life personalities. What I hope to do here is to introduce you to some of the people who make sport tick behind the scenes.  They are the special forces of elite-level sports, “the shadow warriors” whom you might not know but whose work you see every Sunday.  These shadow warriors assist the elite of the elite players to train, learn, and play their sport at its highest levels.  Much of what they do is based on science and, more specifically, sport science.  The science that is most familiar to us — such as modern medicine, physiology, biomechanics, ergonomics, and psychology — can help us Elite athletic performance understand sport and life. More specifically, modern science focused on sport can uncover many of the mysteries of what happens within and between downs both on field and off.  Once unraveled, these mysteries can be applied to the sports you play and many aspects of your everyday life.

I want to include you in my conversations here about sports and science.  As a sport scientist I am passionate about sports and the science but more importantly how the information is about all of us, not just the elite.  The important thing is understanding how to use science to improve performance, our lives, and those around us.  Performance is performance no matter if you catch passes or teach others! I hope to continue to meet and engage with you each week so send me your questions and let me know what you think. You can email me at

Dr. John P. Sullivan, is a Clinical Sport Psychologist and facilitates both clinical and performance enhancement services for Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and within the elite ranks of the Olympics, NFL, NBA, WNBA, and MLS.  He works with a variety of performers emphasizing scientific based interventions focused on performance and increasing overall well-being.  His passion has been engaging in activities that range from consultation, serving on scientific committees to direct service to organizations and individuals to facilitate excellence.   He also brings his knowledge and experience to his own consulting practice Clinical & Sports Consulting Services

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