Sports Engineering and Biomechanics

Sports Engineering and Biomechanics relates to the design and development of sports equipment, along with the study of forces and their effect on living things.

sports engineering

Our Sports Engineering and Biomechanics research focuses on the development of new technologies for sporting applications, and the prevention of athlete injury. This includes designing and developing:

  • training equipment to facilitate skills development (e.g. a bowling machine for cricket training)
  • innovative test instruments and systems to improve understanding of athlete movement, and investigating strategies to improve performance and prevent injury
  • aerodynamically efficient equipment, particularly low-drag cycling equipment
  • bio-materials’ (such as bone and dentine) response to high stress levels
  • the mechanics of athlete movements—such as the golf swing or wheelchair propulsion—and the effects of loading on the spine, to prevent injury
  • orthopaedic and injury biomechanics—studying musculoskeletal and nervous systems in normal, diseased and injured states
  • multi-scale testing of mechanical and materials characterisation of hard tissues, such as bone and teeth, and biomaterials
  • advanced manufacturing of dental materials for restorations.

Research impact

Our Sports Engineering and Biomechanics research can be applied across all sporting disciplines, and any industry involving the human-machine interface. These include: football (all codes); cricket; cycling; golf; tennis; kayaking; para-sports, such as wheelchair rugby, sprinting and marathon; defence industries; and manufacturing and materials-handling industries.

We are working to develop more effective equipment, improve performance and reduce injury across a wide range of sports and human activity. Some of our recent achievements have included:

  • 3D golf swing movement-pattern analysis to improve performance and prevent injury
  • examining spinal movement patterns and developing activity-recognition algorithms for application in aged care and workplace services
  • measuring diabetes patients’ gait patterns to help prevent ulcers and consequent lower limb amputations
  • designing low-drag helmets, wheels, frames and clothing to improve elite cyclists’ performance
  • improving wheelchair design and customisation to optimise para-athletes’ force delivery, enhancing their performance and reducing injury
  • developing semi-automated and low-cost 3D scanning systems for human-body anthropometric analysis.

We also collaborate with the Adelaide Medical School’s Centre for Orthopaedics and Trauma Research on a number of projects to understand, prevent and treat musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. These include projects looking into:

  • cervical spine injury mechanics
  • spinal cord injury mechanisms
  • rotator cuff tendon-tear treatments
  • and lower-back-pain movement strategies.

Our research has played a significant role in improving cycling helmet design, leading to the development of five new helmet products. These are used by the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams, and the Mitchelton-SCOTT GreenEDGE professional cycling team, among others. They have been worn at numerous professional and world-championship, Commonwealth Games and Olympic victories.

Our research has also had a positive impact in many other forms. For example, our work and expertise has:

  • been used to develop other low-drag equipment for the Australian Cycling Team, contributing to numerous world-championship, Commonwealth Games and Olympic victories, including a world record
  • established gait analysis at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, in support of the multidisciplinary foot clinic
  • led to improvements in propulsion and aerodynamic posture for wheelchair sprint athletes, as well as faster wheelchair optimisation for wheelchair rugby athletes
  • launched a startup company, RigShaper, developing human-body 3D scanning systems.

Facilities

We have a range of facilities and equipment suited to sports engineering research, including wind tunnels and motion capture systems.

Find out more about our Sports Engineering Facilities

Our researchers

We have expertise across a wide range of areas. Many of our researchers are available to assist with research project supervision for Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy students.

Research Team Expertise
Associate Professor Paul Grimshaw Sports biomechanics; 3D analysis; Injury prevention
Associate Professor Richard Kelso Fluid mechanics; Aerodynamics; Sports engineering
Associate Professor Ling Yin Advanced manufacturing; Materials characterisation; Nanomechanics
Dr Will Robertson Kinematics and dynamics; Instrumentation and 3D scanning; Body segment parameters modelling
Associate Professor Paul Medwell Combustion; Laser diagnostics; Humanitarian technology
Dr Claire Jones (Adjunct) Orthopaedic and injury biomechanics; Neurotrauma; Pre-clinical models
Dr John Codrington (Visiting Lecturer) Bone fracture; Biomechanics; Fracture mechanics; Fatigue and damage detection
Professor Ross Bensley (Adjunct)  

Contact us

To enquire about consulting or working with us on a research project, please contact:

Undergraduate degrees

Are you interested in studying sports engineering? At the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, you can major in Sports Engineering at undergraduate level.

Undergraduate Degrees

Higher Degrees by Research

Whether you intend to work in research or industry, a higher degree by research can give you a competitive edge throughout your career. Find out more about studying a Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy.

Higher Degrees by Research