Sport development 

Sport is at the core of our national identity. It brings people together and helps to preserve the health of Australians.

Sport development focuses on sport participation opportunities and ensures that systems are in place to encourage and develop talented athletes who can then excel on the world stage.

What is sport development?

Sport development includes both the development of sport and people's development through sport. In essence, it focuses on athlete progression. 

The key objective in sport development is to attract a large participant base and nurture talented athletes. Increasing sport participation leads to all sorts of personal and community benefits related to:

  • health
  • wellbeing
  • personal development
  • social justice
  • peace.

This research pillar is central to the structure of the CSR, as it's focused on participation in sport in all its forms and therefore is the research theme most likely to connect research from both sport science and sport management.

The establishment of the Bachelor of Sport Development, a degree that incorporates units from sport science and sport business, demonstrates this relevance.

How is sport development researched?

CSR's research expertise

Both the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and Deakin Business School have CSR research expertise. Each makes independent research contributions and, when appropriate, works collaboratively to add different perspectives to methods and approaches. 

Our research adds to our body of knowledge and insights feed directly into the degree programs delivered jointly by the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and Deakin Business School. 

These include the Bachelor of Sport Development; and Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science/Bachelor of Business (Sport Management).

Development of sport


Our research focuses on understanding the processes, policies and pathways that influence sport participation and contribute to athlete wellbeing, development and lifelong participation.  

We aim to understand and influence the health of sporting organisations and systems through action research to enhance governance, management and policy development.

Key focus areas include practices and pathways to encourage people into sport and to retain them in sport. An emerging theme relates to women in sport, as participants, role models and leaders. As Australia strives to remain a strong contender in an increasingly competitive ‘global sporting arms race’, our research also focuses on athlete development and the systems, policies, pathways and support services that facilitate excellence.


Coaches are central to mass participation, positive junior experiences and athlete development. Our research focuses on coach development and coach wellbeing.

Coach development is still a largely neglected area that has been under-researched. Unlike other disciplines (e.g. education), there has been no attempt to locate and identify its signature pedagogy. 

Moreover, coaching often involves high workloads with minimal support and coaches are forced to deal with a range of situations for which they are often inadequately trained to manage. Coaches are particularly at-risk to their own personal health and well-being so further research is needed to better understand their needs and how both preventive and targeted programs can be implemented to assist them.


Our research also examines umpires and officials' sport experiences. This subgroup of stakeholders has been largely ignored and a detailed understanding of their experiences, particularly in Australia, is lacking. 

We seek to better understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motives and broader processes, policies and practices that encourage individuals to take on and continue as umpires and officials in sport. Attrition among this group is a significant issue and the individual and organisational factors that contribute to this attrition are poorly understood.

Development through sport

Development through sport focuses on how sport can be used strategically to achieve positive individual and community outcomes.

Sport for health is an issue that's increasingly on the political agenda and is a focus of this research theme.


Health encapsulates physical, mental and social wellbeing. The role of sport in all three has been recognised by the Federal Government, which has recently funded the Sporting School Program with $100m. The goal is to help children foster a lifelong interest in sport.

Other national and state sport organisations promote physical activity and encourage people to be active. In light of the current obesity epidemic and low rates of population activity, several sports are developing new products that provide opportunities for participants to engage in physical activity in a convenient and simple way.

Some sports have also attracted funding towards health agendas, with VicHealth being an example of a relevant funding body.


A positive sporting environment can lead to physical, mental and social health benefits.

There is currently little understanding of how practices and behaviours within sports clubs shape these outcomes. For example, does the increasingly pervasive marketing of alcohol and gambling in community sports clubs compromise the positive benefits of sport?

Our research examines new product offerings and helps sport organisations to target specific population activity levels. By better understanding the complex interplay of environmental factors, we can learn what can potentially impact health outcomes.


We also examine the role and strategic use of sport in facilitating social cohesion in communities.

More specifically, this includes a focus on community empowerment, social inclusion and diversity management.

For example, understanding how sport can promote a greater respect and understanding among specific population groups such as new immigrants in regional communities or Muslims in communities traditionally perceived to be non-Muslim.


Social inclusion is vital for a country striving to be a multicultural and inclusive society. Our research gathers insight on how sport organisations and community groups can use sport to bring people together, promote social connectivity and health.

We also examine how sport enhances social inclusion in groups which are under-represented in sport participation statistics, such as:

  • new migrants
  • women and girls
  • people with a disability
  • the aging population
  • culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population groups
  • indigenous Australians.