Faster, higher, stronger

ACU’s exercise scientists are helping to boost the performance of the nation’s leading sporting teams, and leading the charge is Dr Craig Duncan.

The Socceroos, the Matildas, Western Sydney Wanderers and the NSW State of Origin team are among the top sporting outfits that have benefited from the expertise of Dr Duncan, and his colleagues.

Dr Duncan, Senior Lecturer at ACU’s School of Exercise Science, emphasises to coaching and support staff the need to view their athletes as valuable assets that need to be managed via individualised programs to ensure maximum performance.

“Effective management involves appropriate and meaningful monitoring of training loads and markers of fatigue to ensure athletes are adequately prepared for competition,” he said.

“Appropriate preparation leads to increased success and lower injury rates.”

Dr Duncan is one of Australia's leading Sport Scientists and is a passionate advocate for safe, professional, and ethical standards for all Sport Scientists.

The former ACU graduate was awarded the Exercise and Sport Science Australia's (ESSA) '2014 Sport Scientist of the Year' award in recognition of his knowledge and expertise.

In that year Dr Duncan also directly contributed to the success of the Western Sydney Wanderers FC in making the grand final of the A-League and winning the recent Asian Champions League, and to the successful NSW State of Origin team's performance.

In particular, Dr Duncan's innovative use of sleep monitors with the NSW State of Origin team in the months leading up to the tri-series was an example of his holistic approach to player management.

“Quality sleep is vital for elite athletes to reach their optimum performance zone, and this is one of the things we look at when assessing the players,” he said.

He also featured prominently in the Socceroos preparation for last year’s Asian Cup Championships, which the Australian team won beating the Korea Republic  2-1 in the final.

This year he has helped the Socceroos, and will continue to work with the coaches as the national soccer team aims to win the 2017 Federation Cup and progress through World Cup qualifiers.

And he will be working with the Matildas in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics.

“In Australia we do exercise science very, very well and ACU is the leading university in this discipline,” he said.

Dr Duncan has also been instrumental in developing a new postgraduate program dedicated to those who aspire to work as Sport Scientists.

The programs go beyond strength and conditioning principles and integrate many aspects of sport science that have previously not been addressed in a sequential manner.

The use of technology in sport science, the skills required to analyse and interpret performance data, the importance of leadership, and factors pertaining to fatigue and recovery are addressed within a contemporary approach to sport science.

Above all, Dr Duncan's greatest success has been the positive and guiding influence he has had on the students he teaches.

He realises that the profile of Sport Science in Australia is in the hands of the next group of qualified professionals.

As such, he takes great pride in developing sport scientists who are ethical in nature, professional in approach, and respectful of others.

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