Chris Barnes on the Evolution of Sports Science in Professional Soccer

Sports science is a common thing in elite and professional sports today – but it hasn’t always been that way.

Over the past 25 years in his career at high-level sports, sports scientist and consultant Chris Barnes has seen how sports science has evolved and gained prominence.

When he began his career as a sports scientist with Middlesbrough FC, Chris noted that sports science was only at the periphery of professional sports.

But nobody understood what it was and how it could be used.

Yet, as Chris progressed through his career—working with several other English soccer clubs and associations such as UK Basketball and UEFA—so did sports science.

While today’s sports science is an entirely different animal from 20 years ago, Chris highlights an enduring wisdom he learned on the field: that sports scientists need to cultivate relationships.

Chris joins me today to share his insight on how sports science has evolved and integrated into professional sports.

He shares how he started his career as a sports scientist and eventually pivoted to start his consultancy business.

He describes how and when a sports scientist should share data with coaches and athletes.

And he also highlights the importance of generating usable insight from scientific data, and underscores the value of building relationships in the work of a sports scientist.


It’s good to create information and knowledge, but a sport scientist has to find a way to translate that information into something meaningful in the field. – Chris Barnes


This week on the Physical Preparation Podcast:

  • What inspired Chris to take the path of physical preparation
  • The risky world of professional sports and how Chris started his consultancy work
  • Bringing sports science into elite professional sports
  • The start of Chris’ work as a sport scientist
  • Introducing science, information, and insights without overwhelming coaches and athletes
  • Making sports science more effective and the importance of generating insights from data
  • The value of building relationships in a sports scientist’s role
  • How sports science has integrated into professional and elite sports over the years
  • The development of multi-directional capability in soccer
  • What makes a well-structured football training program
  • Getting the right balance between information creation and information use
  • What the “Cradle to the Grave” approach means
  • The source of Chris’ success in the sports he has worked in


Connect with Chris Barnes:


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