Skip to content mail-pink
(+27) 21 659 5600 mobile-notch-thin

The Sports Industry: Sport Scientists, Exercise Scientists, Biokineticists, Physiotherapists

Choosing a path in the Sports and Fitness industries are equally exciting and daunting at the same time. To debunk some misconceptions about our industry, we describe the differences between a Sport Scientist, an Exercise Scientist, a Biokineticist and a Physiotherapist.

In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of sports, numerous professionals work behind the scenes to enhance athletic performance, optimize training methods, and promote the overall well-being of athletes and individuals seeking to improve their fitness.


Within this realm, four distinct yet interconnected disciplines emerge: sport science, exercise science, biokinetics and physiotherapy. Each field offers unique perspectives and expertise, catering to different aspects of human movement, performance, and health. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating world of sports science, exercise science, biokinetics and physiotheapy, unveiling their differences and shedding light on the invaluable roles they play in the sports industry.


Whether you aspire to be an athlete, a sports researcher, or a healthcare professional, this guide will provide you with a clearer understanding of these captivating careers and help you determine which path aligns with your passions and aspirations.


Sport Scientist A sports scientist focuses on the scientific aspects of sports performance and athlete development. Their primary goal is to analyze data, conduct research, and apply scientific principles to optimize athletic performance. Sports scientists collaborate closely with athletes, coaches, and sports teams to enhance training methods, prevent injuries, and devise effective recovery strategies. They may specialize in various areas such as sports nutrition, biomechanics, sports psychology, or exercise physiology.
Exercise Scientist An exercise scientist primarily focuses on studying human movement and its impact on health and fitness. They strive to understand how exercise influences the body and develop exercise programs to enhance fitness, prevent injuries, and improve overall well-being. Exercise scientists engage in research, work in fitness centers, create exercise protocols, and educate individuals on proper exercise techniques. Their work encompasses areas such as exercise physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, and exercise prescription.
Biokineticist A biokineticist is a specialized type of exercise scientist who focuses on assessing, preventing, and rehabilitating individuals with chronic diseases, injuries, or disabilities. They specialize in designing and implementing exercise programs tailored to meet the specific needs of their clients, taking into consideration their medical conditions and physical limitations. Biokineticists generally work in clinical settings, are registered as healthcare professionals and collaborate with other healthcare professionals (such as physiotherapists, doctors, occupational therapists, and psychologists) to assist in the recovery and functional improvement of patients.
Physiotherapist In the realm of sports, a physiotherapist plays a crucial role in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries related to physical activity and sports performance. These professionals are trained in the assessment of musculoskeletal conditions, and they use various techniques, such as manual therapy, exercise prescription, and modalities like heat or cold therapy, to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of athletes. Physiotherapists are registered as healthcare professionals and work closely with athletes, coaches, and other healthcare professionals to develop personalized treatment plans, manage pain, restore mobility and function, and optimize an athlete's physical well-being. Their expertise extends beyond injury management as they may also provide guidance on injury prevention, performance enhancement, and overall physical conditioning to promote long-term athletic success.

While there may be some overlap in their areas of expertise, the key distinction lies in their specific focus and the context in which they apply their knowledge. Sport scientists emphasize performance optimization in athletes, exercise scientists study human movement and fitness, physiotherapists and biokineticists specialize in rehabilitation and exercise prescription for individuals with medical conditions.


When considering a career path within the sports industry, it's crucial to take the time to assess your interests, strengths, and the specific area you would like to pursue. Sports science, exercise science, and biokinetics offer a diverse range of opportunities, each with its own unique focus and expertise. To gain a better understanding of which field aligns best with your career goals, it is beneficial to explore the curriculum and course offerings of related degree programmes. The sports industry is a vibrant and multifaceted realm, where scientific knowledge and expertise intertwine with athletic prowess and passion. Sports scientists, exercise scientists, biokineticists and physiotherapists form the backbone of this industry, working tirelessly to unlock the secrets of optimal performance, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. While their roles and areas of focus may differ, they share a common goal: to enhance the well-being and performance of athletes and individuals alike.


Aspiring sports professionals and enthusiasts alike can find inspiration and potential career paths within these disciplines. So, whether you dream of pushing the boundaries of athletic performance or contributing to the health and well-being of individuals through exercise, consider these captivating careers within the sports industry. Embrace your passion, pursue your goals, and join the ranks of those who are dedicated to elevating sports and human performance to new heights. Remember, the journey towards a career in the sports industry begins with a single step—a step towards knowledge, experience, and unwavering dedication. Embrace the possibilities, harness your potential, and embark on a path where your love for sports converges with the fascinating world of science.


Best of luck on your journey to a rewarding career in the sports industry!


To bring you the most evidence-based and cutting information in the fields of sports and exercise science and health, SSISA works alongside the UCT Research Centre for Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport (HPALS) to disseminate the latest research.  HPALS research focuses on optimizing human performance and promoting health and well-being through physical activity, sports participation, healthy eating and good sleep hygiene.  Their work begins at the DNA, to the human performance laboratory and ultimately to the community. To read more about the Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Research Centre, Division of Physiological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, please see the HPALS website or email Ayesha Hendricks for more information about applications for BSc Honours/MSc/MPhil/PhD research programmes.


To get in touch with the Sports Science Institute of South Africa Group for Research Implementation and Translation (GRIT) Research Consultants, get in touch with Warren Lucas at or call 021 650 5728 for enquiries. Read more about the SSISA GRIT Team here.


Yours in Sports Science,

Sports Science Institute of South Africa