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Exploring the Science of Athletics

At Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Sport Performance, kinesiology faculty and student researchers are applying scientific innovation and technology to study every aspect of the body’s training process — from cellular changes to biomechanics — and help athletes achieve peak performance.

Created in 2008, the center is a collection of laboratories that applies cutting-edge technology and the latest research to explore how the body moves, reacts and changes. Students get an up-close experience in all types of physical sport and movement, as well as insight into sports psychology that sheds light on mental performance. They also study the changes athletes’ bodies undergo during conditioning.

“With all health studies, we’re trying to understand how best to improve the human condition,” explained Andrew Galpin, associate professor of kinesiology and center co-director. “While most ‘health’-related studies focus on treating and managing disease, we feel it’s imperative to study the elite. How else do we know what to aim for? To understand how to optimize, we need to study those who are the best.”

The center’s focus is “to help athletes improve performance and avoid injuries,” said co-director and associate professor of kinesiology Scott Lynn. “We’re checking movement patterns, the little things that could build to an injury.”

Alumna and kinesiology lecturer Whitney Leyva ’13, ’16 (B.S., M.S. kinesiology) has conducted anaerobic wingate tests measuring power and capacity during the center’s pre-season fitness testing with the Anaheim Ducks. The experience, she noted, “used what I learned in my measurement, statistics and test assessment classes. I now use this information as examples when I teach my students.”

The center’s work to improve golfers’ performance caught the attention of business alumnus Jeffrey Van Harte, whose support helped further golf research within the biomechanics lab.

“I was interested in establishing something that had the capability to measure golf swing movement that could improve our men’s and women’s golf teams, as well as other players,” said Van Harte, noting Lynn’s worldwide reputation among top golfers and coaches.

In the biomechanics lab, researchers use a nine-camera motion capture/analysis system, ball-flight and launch monitors, force and pressure plates, as well as two systems that measure the electrical activity of muscle tissue. The lab, said Van Harte, “gives golfers a better handle on their movements.”

The center, he added, “helps Cal State Fullerton recruit golfers, gives legitimacy to the kinesiology program and enhances its reputation. I think it makes us unique and builds more pride in our university.”

Athos, a San Francisco Bay-area sports performance technology company specializing in wearable products with embedded biometric sensors, sees the benefits of partnering with the center to test their products.

“We support it because it’s well aligned with our goals,” said Christopher Wiebe, chief technology officer and Athos co-founder. “Working with the center and its faculty and student research validates our products and exposes the university to the latest in technology.”

To support the Center for Sport Performance, contact Elizabeth Eastin, director of development for the College of Health and Human Development, at 657-278-5466 or eeastin@fullerton.edu.