Research profile of the Institute of Sports and Sports Science

The goal of research at the Institute of Sports and Sports Science (IfSS) is to identify sports science findings in both general and applied areas. In addition, it also forms the foundation of research-oriented teaching. It is characterized by an interdisciplinary discussion regarding physical activity and human movement, which takes into account aspects of performance, health and technology. The research activities cover sports science theories, the development of methods, technologies and programs as well as their implementation and quality assurance.

The key research priorities at the institute are:

  • The conditions and effects of sports activity in one’s life
  • School sport (Physical Education) and sport for children and adolescents
  • Mobile recording of physical activity and psychological variables in everyday life (outpatient assessment)
  • The principles of human energy metabolism and its importance for the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases
  • The development of degenerative processes and the effect of physical activity on joints damaged by arthritis
  • Behavioural, mechanical and physiological examination of how human movement functions in everyday and sports settings

The main research areas reflect the areas of activity and core competences in the six working divisions at the institute:

Social and Health Sciences in Sport

The working division Social and Health Sciences in Sport focuses in particular on research into the conditions and effects of physical activity in one’s life. Accordingly, explanatory theories of sports participation, intervention theories on the design of sports programs and bio-psychosocial theories on the effects of physical activity feature heavily. Analysis of mental and social conditions for the description and explanation of physical activity and physical performance in one’s life, the examination of the effects of physical activity on motor, health, cognitive and social development, the optimization of methods for recording the conditions and effects of athletic activity in one’s life (including activity questionnaire, mobile self-monitoring, fitness and health tests) constitute the central themes. Other focal points are the theory-led development of sports programmes and concepts for children, adolescents and adults in different activity areas of sport or within a health promotion setting (e.g. school, community, company, association etc.), with inclusion of modern technologies as well as evaluation research and quality management in sport and health promotion.

School Sport and Sport for Children and Adolescents

The working division School Sports and Sport for Children and Adolescents is represented at the institute by Forschungszentrum für den Schulsport und den Sport von Kindern und Jugendlichen (FoSS). FoSS was set up for the target groups of children and adolescents / school sports. Based on a holistic view of mankind, FoSS employs various topics and theoretical fields of sports science to generate application-related research results. Therefore, FoSS reflects the work of the sports institute in relation to the specific age groups. The focus is on movement and learning (also transition research, exercise teaching, all-day school), inclusion and exclusion (e.g. motor tests, talent selection, inter-ethnic approach) as well as sport-specific questions (e.g. sports development, school sports).

Applied Psychology

The working division Applied Psychology is characterized by its methodical focus on outpatient assessment. Interesting phenomena are examined in everyday settings (real-life) in real-time by means of psychophysiological methods (objective) and time-sensitive analyses (dynamics). Above all, a multimodal operationalisation of interesting phenomena in everyday life using subjective self-reports (e-diaries), peripheral physiological signals (ECG, EDA), behavioural (accelerometry, GPS), auditory (sound files), visual (mobile eye-tracking), and central nervous system (mobile EEG) signals. The content focuses on psychological symptoms in healthy people (stress, procrastination) and patient groups (borderline, depression, ADHD, epilepsy).

Exercise Physiology and Nutrition

Within the working division Exercise Psychology and Nutrition, the fundamentals of human energy metabolism and their significance for the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases are examined. The focus is on the identification of activity and diet-associated determinants of energy metabolism, as well as the metabolic effects of physical activity and nutrition. In addition, questions concerning the underlying mechanisms and their regulation are handled. This work will be carried out in close cooperation with the Human Nutrition Study Centre at Max-Rubner-Institut.

Sports Orthopedics

The working division Sports Orthopedics focuses on research questions with respect to chronical diseases (i.a. Osteoarthritis), biomechanics of the human body and physical activity of patients. In cooperation with industrial partners of the medical technology field, the purpose arises to enhance the conservative therapy of arthrotic diseases. These objectives are realized in close cooperation with the Joint Center Black Forest in Neuenbürg.

The Natural Sciences of Sports

At the centre of our research interest is human movement, which is an important part of life because it ensures physical mobility and thus the interaction with the environment. Accordingly, the aim of our research is to deepen our understanding of the functioning of human movements, i.e. the interaction of the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system, which enables coordinated movement behavior in everyday life and sport. Of particular interest is how the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system adapt to training stimuli, how the interaction between the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system changes, and how training protocols have to be designed in order to achieve optimal adaptations in sports and rehabilitation. A deeper understanding of these processes will provide impetus for the development and evaluation of modern technologies in medicine (e.g. orthoses) as well as computer and engineering sciences (e.g. robotics) in order to improve human-technology interaction.

The Institute of Sports and Sports Science at Karlsruher Institute of Technology

The research activities of Institute of Sports and Sports Science are characterized by an interdisciplinary approach which collaborates with the facilities of Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT). In addition to various collaborations within the area of "IT, Business and Society", there are close links in the four other areas of KIT: "Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering", "Biology, Chemistry and Process Engineering", "Natural and Built Environment" and "Physics and Mathematics". In addition, Institut of Sports and Sports Science is particularly linked to the inter-departmental research and innovation centres "Information, Systems and Technologies" as well as "People and Technology" and the topic "Health and Technology". Therefore, the institute contributes to the comprehensive treatment of the challenges within economics, society and environment at KIT.