Books, Sport & Exercise Science
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The 10 most valuable academic sport science books

most valuable academic sport science books

Academic sport science books are a great investment in your future. Do you study sport science or thinking about going to university to study this exciting subject? Want to know what are the best sport science books? Well, we have compiled a list of the most adopted academic texts throughout Europe.

Academic sport science books top ten

We have produced 100’s of academic textbooks covering a variety of subjects including strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, management, physiology, psychology, biomechanics and many more.

1. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th Edition is the gold standard of all S&C books and finds itself at the top of our list. Developed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Greg Haff PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA and N. Travis Triplett, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA. These are some of the biggest names in strength and conditioning. This book is adopted by universities all over the globe and is one of our best selling books of all time. If you are an aspiring S&C coach this book is essential (as the title suggests). This book is also highly recommended for anyone who works with athletes or clients in a fitness environment.

Clean Eating Alice essentials
Alice Liveing buying a copy of ‘Essentials’.

The book has 24 chapters covering a variety of topics including Structure and Function of Body Systems, Bioenergetics, Adaptations to Anaerobic/Aerobic programmes and much more. The 4th edition has two nutrition chapters, expanding on from the 3rd edition.

The editors

This comprehensive resource was created by 30 expert contributors in the field and edited by Greg Haff and Travis Triplett. Haff is the president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and a senior associate editor for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He has fantastic experience working with elite athletes including the US and Australian weightlifting team and elite athletes from a variety of sports including Rugby, AFL, NFL and Basketball. He has won numerous awards for his work including United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year and a William J. Kraemer Outstanding Sport Scientist Award. Triplett is another winner of the NSCA William J. Kraemer Outstanding Sport Scientist award. She has served on two panels for NASA, one for developing resistance exercise countermeasures to microgravity environments for the International Space Station and was a sports physiology research assistant at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Dr Triplett is currently a senior associate editor for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with distinction as well as a USA Weightlifting club coach


Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Fourth Edition, offers an expanded ancillary package. Below is an example of one of the resistance training videos, here you can see the female athlete performing a back squat with a coach spotting her.

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2. Physiology of Sport and Exercise

We have numerous excellent physiology books that are adopted by universities around the world, however, the new seventh edition of Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 7th Edition is currently the most adopted. This resource offers a simple way for students to develop an understanding of the body’s abilities to perform various types and intensities of exercise and sport, to adapt to stressful situations and to improve its physiological capacities. Instructors and students alike often state that the reader-friendly format is one of the reasons this is their favourite physiology book.

The author

W. Larry Kenney PhD, Jack H. Wilmore, PhD and David L. Costill, PhD have come together to create this exceptional resource. Kenney specialises in researching the effects of ageing and disease states such as hypertension on the control of blood flow to the human skin and has been continuously funded by NIH since 1983. He also studies the effects of heat, cold and dehydration on various aspects of health, exercise and athletic performance. He is the author of more than 200 papers, books, book chapters and other publications. Wilmore has published more than 320 peer-reviewed research papers and 15 books on exercise physiology. He was one of five principal investigators for the Heritage Family Study, a large multicenter clinical trial investigating the possible genetic basis for the variability in the responses of physiological measures and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes to endurance exercise training. Wilmore’s research interests include determining the role of exercise in the prevention and control of both obesity and coronary heart disease. He has also researched in depth mechanisms accounting for alterations in physiological function with training and detraining and factors limiting the performance of elite athletes. Costill has written and coauthored more than 430 publications over the course of his career, including six books and articles in both peer-reviewed and lay publications. He was the original editor in chief of the International Journal of Sports Medicine for 12 years. Costill is one of the most decorated authors in physiology winning a list of honours that includes ACSM Citation and Honor Awards, the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from Ohio State University, the President’s Award at Ball State University and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Cuyahoga Falls Public Schools. Many of his former students are now leaders in the fields of exercise physiology, medicine and science.


The web-based ancillaries that accompany this text are popular with students and instructors/teachers. In addition to new animations, videos and audio clips, the web study guide includes comprehension quizzes and an image bank.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

3. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology


Psychology is another area Human Kinetics pride ourselves on being leaders in the market. Just like physiology, we have many fantastic books written by extremely qualified authors. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7th Edition is a must for any undergraduate studying sport psychology at university, it’s as simple as that. There is a very good chance this book will be on your reading list. Year after year, edition after edition, it remains one of our most adopted titles. This text offers both students and new practitioners a comprehensive view of sport and exercise psychology. Draws connections between research and practice and captures the excitement of the world of sport and exercise. Now in its 7th edition, the authors have incorporated feedback from teachers and students to create a text that builds on previous editions. In-depth learning aids have been refreshed and there is an additional emphasis on hot, prominent topics, such as mindfulness, cultural diversity, ethics and transitions in sport.

The authors

Authors Robert S. Weinberg, PhD and Daniel Gould, PhD are internationally respected in the sport psychology field. Weinberg has more than 30 years of experience in both the scholarly and applied aspects of sport psychology. He has written numerous research articles, including more than 150 refereed articles in scholarly journals, as well as books, book chapters and applied articles for coaches, athletes and exercisers. Weinberg was voted one of the top 10 sport psychologists in North America by his peers. He is past president of the North American Society for Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) and of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). He is also a certified AASP consultant, where he works with athletes of all sports and ages. Gould has taught sport psychology for more than 35 years. An active researcher, Gould was the founding co-editor of The Sport Psychologist and has published more than 200 articles on sport psychology. He is best known for conducting applied research that links research and practice. Like Weinberg he was voted one of the top 10 sport psychology specialists in North America and is internationally known, having presented his work in more than 30 countries.


The ancillaries have developed and increased. More than 40 new video clips have been integrated into the web study guide to better demonstrate the core concepts addressed in this book.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

4. Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training

HIIT questions book

This book was published in 2019 and was an instant success. Adopted by Universities all over the world it also became a must-have resource for any S&C coach. This title is also popular with individuals who are fitness enthusiasts.

The popularity of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which consists primarily of repeated bursts of high-intensity exercise, continues to soar because its effectiveness and efficiency have been proven in use by both elite athletes and general fitness enthusiasts. Surprisingly, few resources have attempted to explain both the science behind the HIIT movement and its sport-specific application to athlete training.  In time this book could find its way to the number 1 spot.

The authors

Authors Paul Laursen and Martin Buchheit are legends in the industry. They are expert-level HIIT researchers as well as practitioners.

Paul Laursen, PhD, is an endurance coach, a sport scientist, and an adjunct professor for Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. He earned his doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Queensland, was formerly the physiology manager for High-Performance Sport New Zealand.

Dr Laursen has published more than 125 peer-reviewed manuscripts in exercise and sport science journals; his publications with coauthor Martin Buchheit are among the most cited in the world.

Martin Buchheit, PhD, is a sport scientist, a strength and conditioning coach and the head of performance for Paris Saint-Germain Football Club. He is also an adjunct associate professor of exercise science for Victoria University in Australia. He previously worked as an exercise physiologist for ASPIRE Academy in Qatar.

Buchheit received his doctorate in physiology from the University of Strasbourg in France. He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed manuscripts, with much of his research focusing on high-intensity interval training. The training tools he has developed include the widely used 30-15 intermittent fitness test and the 5-5 running test.

There are also some fantastic contributors to this book including:

Johann Bilsborough – Director of Performance at New England Patriots. High-Performance Manager/Director of Sport Science at Boston Celtics. Previously worked in the NRL (Rugby League), AFL (Aussie Rules) MMA and boxing.

Nicholas Gill – Head of S&C at the most famous rugby nation in the world – New Zealand All Blacks. During his time there he’s lead the All Blacks to more than 130 test wins and two back-to-back World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015.

Duncan French – Currently the Vice President of Performance, UFC. Previously, worked on three Olympic cycles for Team GB as the lead for S&C at the English Institute of Sport. Also, previously worked as Head of S&C at Newcastle United FC.

Dave Hamilton – Former Head of S&C for the medal-winning Team GB women’s Field Hockey team. Current Assistant Athletic Director for Applied Health and Performance Science at Pennsylvania State University.

Jamie Stanley – A sports physiologist. He works for the Australian Cycling and Swimming teams with current world recording holding, Olympic, Commonwealth and World champion athletes. Jamie is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of South Australia.

Plus many more elite-level coaches.

Check out Your HIIT questions answered by Martin Buchheit our Marketing Manager, Ryan caught up with Martin while he was in the UK this spring.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

5. Research Methods in Physical Activity

Research Methods in Physical Activity

Another book in its 7th edition, so you know it’s doing something right. This book is used by a huge variety of universities for a variety of courses. The book is for upper-undergraduate or graduate students studying physical activity, exercise/sport science, fitness, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy or rehabilitation. This text is also regularly bought by professionals working in those areas. The content of the seventh edition maintains and expands upon the logical content progression that has made Research Methods in Physical Activity the leading text in the field, as a result, this 7th edition continues to be one of our best sellers and key academic texts. This book provides step-by-step information for every aspect of the research process. Real-world research and examples are used along with photos, anecdotes and humorous stories, which makes the book engaging and relatable for students. The 7th edition has updated information and techniques for electronic searches to ensure students use the best research practices. This book also offers new information on meta-analysis and the benefits of journal-style writing as well as an explanation of qualitative and mixed-methods research approaches, in addition to quantitative approaches. This book also pays special attention to ethical issues.

The authors

Jerry R. Thomas, EdD, Jack K. Nelson, EdD and Stephen Silverman, EdD. All three authors are real seasoned pro’s in the industry racking up around 100 years of professional experience between them. Thomas has authored more than 200 publications, 120 of which are refereed publications with numerous contributions in research methods. Thomas has been editor in chief of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and a reviewer for most major research journals in kinesiology (sport science) and numerous journals in psychology. Nelson conducted and published research and taught research methods for 35 years. He has been an adviser on more than 50 doctoral dissertations and more than 50 master’s theses. He has written more than 80 publications and has served as editor of several research publications. Silverman has taught and written about research methods for more than 30 years. He has published more than 75 research articles in addition to many books and book chapters.


To aid instructors and students, Research Methods in Physical Activity, Seventh Edition, includes a suite of ancillary materials including a presentation package and image bank.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

6. Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy

Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy

Released in 2016, Brad Schoenfeld’s hypertrophy book was an instant hit with sports professors around the globe. This book is a comprehensive compilation of science-based principles to help professionals develop muscle hypertrophy in athletes and clients. With more than 825 references and applied guidelines throughout, no other resource offers a comparable quantity of content solely focused on muscle hypertrophy. The book covers the role of resistance training, programme design and nutrition. If you want to learn about putting on size, this is the book for you.

Ryan followed the Linear Periodised Programme, check out his progress.

The author

Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities in the fitness industry and has appeared in numerous publications from Cosmopolitan to The New York Times to Musclemag. He is currently a columnist for Muscular Development Magazine and serves as a regular fitness expert for numerous popular websites such as t-nation. Schoenfeld has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles on exercise and sports nutrition, many in high impact factor journals, as well as several textbook chapters. He acts as the Assistant Editor-in-Chief for the NSCA’s Strength and Conditioning Journal, as well as serving on the editorial advisory board for the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He is also the author of The M.A.X. Muscle Plan, Women’s Home Workout Bible and Strong & Sculpted.


This book comes with a free image bank. This Includes most of the full-colour art, photos and tables from the text. The images are often used to create handouts and enhance PowerPoint presentations for students and instructors.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

7. Motor Learning and Performance

motor learning - improve golf performance

An accessible and easily understandable academic text. Constructing an easy-to-understand conceptual model of motor performance along the way, this text outlines the principles of motor skill learning. It builds a strong understanding of how skills are acquired and perfected with practice and shows students how to apply the concepts to a variety of real-world settings. Incorporating familiar scenarios brings the material to life. Written for those who appreciate and want to learn more about high skill level activity, this book is predominantly adopted by lecturers teaching sport science, coaching and PE. The book covers coordination, the timing of movements and describes how expertise is gained. Part one investigates the principles of human performance, progressively developing a conceptual model of human actions. In part two, the text uses the conceptual model to impart an understanding of human motor learning processes.

This brand new 6th Edition was published in October 2019. The new edition has been carefully revised to incorporate the most important research findings in the field, and it is supplemented with practice situations to facilitate a stronger link between research-based principles and practical applications. 

The authors

Richard A. Schmidt, PhD and Timothy D. Lee, PhD are incredibly experienced and proven scientists and have worked together on this textbook. Known as one of the leaders in research on motor behaviour, Dr Schmidt has more than 35 years of experience in this area and has been published widely. The originator of schema theory, Schmidt founded the Journal of Motor Behavior in 1969 and was the editor for 11 years. He authored the first edition of Motor Control and Learning in 1982.

Dr Schmidt has authored every Motor Learning and Performance book since the first edition in 1991. Schmidt received an honorary doctorate from Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in recognition of his work. He is a member of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA), where he served as president in 1982 and received the organisation’s two highest honors: the Distinguished Scholar Award for lifetime contributions to research in motor control and learning (in 1992) and the President’s Award for significant contributions to the development and growth of NASPSPA (in 2013).

Timothy Lee has published extensively in motor behaviour and psychology journals since 1979. More recently, he has contributed as an editor to both Journal of Motor Behavior and Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and as an editorial board member for Psychological Review. In 1980 Lee received the inaugural Young Scientist Award from SCAPPS and in 2011 he was named a fellow of the society—its highest honour. Then in 1991-92 he received a senior research fellowship from the Dienst Onderzoekscoordinatie, Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. In 2005 he presented a prestigious senior scientist lecture at NASPSPA.


For the 5th edition, the ancillaries have an improved web study guide which offers a principles-to-application exercise and multiple interactive activities for each chapter. The image bank includes most of the figures, content photos and tables from the text, these are sorted by chapter.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

8. Research Methods in Biomechanics

Academic Biomechanics book

Biomechanics is a subject area in which Human Kinetics has a number of excellent books. Research Methods in Biomechanics, 2nd Edition is the most adopted. This textbook demonstrates the range of available research techniques and how to best apply this knowledge to ensure valid data collection. In the highly technical field of biomechanics, research methods are frequently upgraded as the speed and sophistication of software and hardware technologies increase. As a result, the second edition includes new information detailing advanced analytical tools for investigating human movement.

The authors

With five authors and nine contributors, you can be sure this book has a variety of experts from the field of research and biomechanics. The authors are D. Gordon E. Robertson, PhD, Graham E. Caldwell, PhD, Joseph Hamill, PhD and Gary Kamen, PhD Robertson is an emeritus professor and a fellow of the Canadian Society for Biomechanics, wrote Introduction to Biomechanics for Human Motion Analysis. He conducts research on human locomotion and athletic activities and authors the analogue data analysis software BioProc3. Caldwell, an associate professor and a fellow of the Canadian Society for Biomechanics. He has won the Canadian Society for Biomechanics New Investigator Award and in 1998 won the Outstanding Teacher Award for the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts. He served as an associate editor for Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Hamill is a professor and fellow of the Research Consortium, International Society of Biomechanics in Sports, Canadian Society for Biomechanics, American College of Sports Medicine and National Academy of Kinesiology. He coauthored the popular undergraduate textbook Biomechanical Basis of Human Movement. He teaches across the globe including at the University of Massachusetts, USA and is an adjunct professor at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and the University of Limerick, Ireland and a distinguished research professor at Republic Polytechnic, Singapore. Kamen is a professor and fellow of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Dance (AAPHERD) and the American College of Sports Medicine. He authored an undergraduate textbook on kinesiology, Foundations of Exercise Science, as well as a primer on electromyography, Essentials of Electromyography. He was president of the Research Consortium of AAPHERD. Whittlesey is a self-employed technology consultant specialising in athletic training (physiotherapy), sporting goods and clinical applications. The nine additional contributors include some of the best biomechanists and statistical researchers from around the world.


This textbook includes access to biomechanics research software designed by C-Motion, Visual3D Educational Edition. This allows users to explore the full range of modelling capabilities of the professional Visual3D software in sample data files as well as display visualizations for other data sets.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

9. Sport Nutrition

Sport Nutrition most valuable academic books

A staple for academic sports nutrition courses. Sport Nutrition, 3rd Edition presents the principles, background and rationale for current nutrition guidelines specifically for athletes. Using a physiological basis, this text provides an in-depth look at the science behind sport nutrition. Students will come away with a comprehensive understanding of nutrition as it relates to sport and the influence of nutrition on exercise performance, training and recovery. Instructors also love this book, we often get great feedback on the content and the structure. The book provides great in-depth analysis and breakdown of nutritional macros, overtraining, weight management and immune function. Found in universities around the world but also a common point of reference for sport nutritionists, dietitians and sport scientists. The 3rd edition was published in 2019 and it contains revised and expanded information on personalised nutrition along with carbohydrate intake guidelines, protein metabolism, molecular biology and immunonutrition.

The authors

Undoubtedly two of the best sports nutritionists have come together to create this highly adopted textbook. Asker Jeukendrup, PhD and Michael Gleeson, PhD are both British researchers but huge global names. Jeukendrup is an active researcher credited with many of the new findings in sport nutrition in the past decade. He is a registered sport and exercise nutritionist and a professor of exercise metabolism. Professor Jeukendrup is in high demand from elite athletes and clubs around the world. He has worked with the professional cycling team Rabobank, Chelsea Football Club, UK Athletics, the British Olympic Association, many African endurance runners and several Olympic and world champions. Jeukendrup himself is a more than competent endurance athlete, he has completed multiple Ironman events. He is also popular on social media. You may have even seen some of his infographics on Twitter.

Gleeson has published extensively in scientific and medical journals. He has a particular interest and expertise in the effects of exercise, training and nutrition on immune function and has been both vice president and president of the International Society of Exercise and Immunology. Currently teaching at Loughborough University he has worked with numerous world-class athletes and professional football clubs.


This textbook comes with a free instructor guide, test package and image bank.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

10. Periodization


Athletes needs are diverse, this book will help you get the most out of your training. Whether you or your athletes need to peak at a certain time of the year or maintain good fitness levels for a certain period of time this book will help you understand the science behind periodization. This classic text combines the concepts central to periodization and training theory with contemporary advances in sport science, physiology and coaching because of this it is used by an array of students and professionals. Periodization 5th Edition has become one of the major resources and go-to guide on periodization for sport scientists, coaches (especially strength and conditioning coaches) and athletes throughout the world. Since the introduction of this groundbreaking training theory by Tudor O. Bompa in 1963, periodization has become the basis of every serious athlete’s training. The book has been translated into 9 different languages and is adopted by universities all over the globe.

The authors

This is G. Gregory Haff’s 2nd appearance on this list as he is also the author of Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning 4th edition. Haff teamed up with Tudor O. Bompa, PhD, who is recognised as the world’s foremost expert on periodization training. He developed the concept of periodization of strength in Romania in 1963 as he helped the Eastern Bloc countries rise to dominance in the athletic world. Since then, Bompa has used his system in training 11 Olympic and world championship medalists and elite athletes around the world. He has made presentations on periodization training in more than 30 countries. His publications, conferences and ideas are highly regarded and sought out by many top professional athletes and coaches.

Course instructors can request a desk copy on our desk copy request form

This entry was posted in: Books, Sport & Exercise Science


Hi, I'm Ryan, the Marketing Manager and chief blogger here at Human Kinetics Europe Ltd. As somewhat of a washed-up athlete I've always had a passion for health, fitness and sport science. I now find myself working at the world’s biggest independent publisher of sport, health, dance and fitness resources. This means I get unrestricted access to all the best, most interesting, scientifically-proven writing on sports science. Of course I'm going to share this with you!


  1. ashok says

    i just gone through the books listed for sports science .Very helpful information .
    I want to complete bsc sports science and then msc sports science , but cant attend any college due to my cycling event practice . If i study the books that you listed , is it possible to get that much knowledge as compared to MSC SPORTS SCIENCE ?

    • Human Kinetics says


      Our books are used on many university courses across the world, however we can’t comment on whether these books alone would substitute for a Masters degree.

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