[RRI Good Practice] Verlab Sports

What is the good practice about?

The goal is to enable an understanding of the psychophysical needs of athletes, taking into account the various biophysical, genetic and psychological aspects that make up an athlete's life, and to understand the interaction of these aspects in order to approach the best possible way to increase their performance, long-term sports success through the prevention and mitigation of inevitable sports injury. VERLAB SPORTS offers a COMBINED TESTING MODEL, which includes Psychomotor and Genetic testing. In order to test the motor skills of athletes, the tests that would be done are: Ergospirometry, Speed, Isokinetic, Anthropometric. The identification of ACE and ACTN3 gene variants allows to determine whether the individual is successful in sprint and strength sports, endurance sports (running, skiing, rowing, triathlon etc.) or whether the person is a so-called universal sportsman. With this kind of data, it is possible, using artificial intelligence, to make a prediction algorithm for sport performance. This testing model is for athletes, sport teams, as well as for all intrigued individuals.

Why is this initiative needed?

Being healthy in performance for an athlete means being able to compete, give your best and be able to adapt to physical conditions in a changing environment with as few injuries as possible and better performance. Soccer, as the most important secondary thing in the world, where financial investments are very large, strives to keep the matches accompanied for as long a period as possible, i.e. extend the season. The longer duration of the competition season and the holding of matches, leads to a reduction in recovery time for athletes, which ultimately puts the athlete at a greater risk of injury. With appropriate training, with an adequate training process that is primarily adapted to each individual, the lab is able to reduce that risk, which is the ultimate goal of this project and the proposal of the combined testing model.

What are the main objectives?

The primary goal of this project is to enable an understanding of the psychophysical needs of athletes. An accurate estimate of athlete’s performance is key to creating effective training programs. Getting the right diagnosis is also key to developing motor skills. It provides useful information about an athlete's strengths and weaknesses and can thus reveal potential health risks. By focusing training programs on these aspects, we can prevent some illnesses or injuries before they occur.

The following benefits are identified:

  • Analysis of the monitored parameters facilitates the creation, correction and control of the training plan and program, as well as the optimization of dosage and distribution of training loads.
  • With genetic testing, the introduction of adequate therapies, nutrition, as well as the optimization of training based on the obtained test results, the frequency of player injuries would be reduced, and thus the athlete could provide maximum performance during the season, which would definitely affect the financial profitability of the club.
  • Formation of clear tests and parameters to check the effectiveness of rehabilitation as well as the readiness of athletes, both physical and mental, to return to the field.
  • Create a database with the aim of longitudinal monitoring of changes in tested and measured anthropological abilities and characteristics

What are the main activities?

Professional athletes perform periodic systematic examinations that are legally mandatory by associations, clubs and as an obligation before the start of the competitive season. In this regard, before the actual testing, the athletes would be subjected primarily to a basic systematic examination. All tests included in the mentioned examination are performed by an internationally recognized and accredited laboratory.

After the established methodology, the implementation of the project will be carried out. In general, the implementation of the project will include the implementation of tasks according to the agreed phases:

  • Assessment of the situation - INITIAL TESTING
  • Creation of intervention multidisciplinary programs / training approaches, mental training, nutrition programs - TRAINING PROGRAM
  • Testing of the created multidisciplinary programs - COMPETITION PERIOD
  • Condition assessment - FINAL TESTING.

Tests include:

  1. Ergospirometry – laboratory test for VO2max, anaerobic capacity and metabolic load zones; Assessment of maximum aerobic capacity, aerobic functional capacity, cause of reduced effort tolerance, as well as prognosis in various groups of patients with heart, lung and muscle diseases.
  2. Sprint speed, maximal sprint speed, acceleration technique, speed of change of movement direction and agility; Estimates the player's max speed and speed of change of direction;
  3. Isometric and isokinetic isolated strength and endurance testing of critical muscle groups and multi-joint strength measurement of legs and upper extremities; Assesses muscular endurance;
  4. Anthropometric measurement – measurement of body composition, mobility and flexibility; Quantitative analysis of morphological and physiological characteristics of players;
  5. Assessment of psychological and cognitive abilities and personality parameters;

Genetic testing is done by PCR method. The Verlab project is testing two genes, ACE and ACTN3. This kind of testing requires equipment including ergospirometar, isokinetic machine, other sports equipment as well as the genetic kits. One testing per athlete cost around 400 KM / 200 euros, depending on the tests.

Who is involved?

The entire testing process is led by sports experts as well as doctors, cardiologists and pulmonologists. Genetic testing is carried out in cooperation with an internationally accredited laboratory in accordance with ISO 15189 standard. Verlab Institute in coordination with the Institute for Sport, the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Sarajevo, Policlinic "Srce Sarajeva" and the laboratory Europharm implement the “Combined Testing Model”. The Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Canton Sarajevo recognized this testing model as key testing for athletes, ensuring the sustainability of the project.

Can this good practice be replicated?

This kind of good practice is easy replicated in any country. The only specific element which makes it easier in the Western Balkans are the ethic codecs for genetic testing, which are more strict in the European Union and thus can create some obstacles.

Further links:

  • Verlab Research Institute: www.verlabinstitute.com

Relevant RRI keys: Gender Equality in Research and Innovation (R&I), Public Engagement (for R&I), Science Education, RRI Governance

Type of practice: Dedicated plan, strategy document (e.g. Gender Equality Plan, Open Access Strategy, etc.), Promotional activities/events/campaigns, Websites serving as platform for services to clients, Publications/promotional material, Strategic & action planning, Organisation of info days, workshop, seminars, etc., Organisation of training, webinars, Organisation of conferences, panels, round-tables, Peer learning/mentoring, Support services (e.g. for internationalisation, innovation support, research support)

Target groups: researchers (starting from PhD-candidates, on the individual level), universities, research performing organisations, research and innovation funding organisations, innovators in the business sector, students (up to Master level), research administration, the general public, person on the street

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Geographical focus
  • General/no specific focus
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by POLICY ANSWERS Project support on January 11, 2023
Modified on January 11, 2023