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Research Reviews

Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Sports Performance

Paul S. Glazier

The Big Idea

It’s GUT check time!  We are all familiar with this cliché in sports performance:  tests of gameness, courage, fortitude, stick-to-itiveness.   But less familiar is another meaning of GUT.  Beginning roughly in the late 1970s particle physicists began looking at the possibilities for the otherwise distinct three of the four forces in nature at high energy to merge into an indistinct single force.  They called this model a Grand Unified Theory, or GUT for short.

Over the years, this general idea of explaining how the universe works quite naturally metastasized into grand explanatory applications in smaller academic universes.  In this article from Human Movement Science (2015), the author proposes a GUT of sports performance.  What makes GUT attractive for understanding the universe of sports performance are the complex interacting variables common to it: such as, physiological fitness, tactical awareness, nutrition, biomechanical proficiency, history, psychosocial features, even genetics.  Unfortunately, when these variables are studied as distinct, not interacting phenomena, nothing particularly grand results.

Glazier rides the historical frustration within the sport sciences of how to integrate...

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