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Studying Sports Sciences in Germany

Sports scientists deal theoretically and practically with sports
An article by Florian Schumann

Studying Sports Sciences in Germany
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Sports Sciences

That is what it’s about

Under what conditions do professionals perform at their best? How do you explain the technique for high jump to students? And how can sport promote good health and prevent injuries? Sport degrees focus on such topics. Those studying teaching will later become a sports teacher. During the course, theory and practice go hand in hand. In the morning, for example, the students have a lecture on the anatomical foundations of the human musculoskeletal system, then football, statistics in the afternoons and swimming after that. The students have to demonstrate their athletic achievements in teaching samples, but also how to convey a certain sports technique in a methodically meaningful way, such as a layup in basketball. For sports scientists, on the other hand, their own performance takes a back seat, their studies are more theoretical. For example, they look at what seating position is optimal for cyclists in relation to their strength capabilities, or how to extract meaningful information from the flood of data generated by running watches or other wearables. "Most of them are very enthusiastic about sports and spend every free minute involved in sports," says Ansgar Schwirtz, president of the German Association for Sports Science and Professor at the Technical University of Munich. In the course, men are in the majority, represented by 63 percent.

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This is how the course runs

You can either study sport to become a teacher, after which you usually take a second subject. Or you can opt for a bachelor's degree in sports science. Either way, in the first few semesters students learn the basics of anatomy, physiology, training science and research methods. Through teaching posts you will also find specialized didactics and internships in schools. The non-school-related course differs according to the first semesters, depending on which priorities the universities set. Schwirtz advises to compare the profiles. Many sports courses focus on one or two topics, such as prevention and rehabilitation, sports economics, sports management, competitive sports or sports and leisure. In addition, depending on the place of study, there are also specialist internships. Trainee teachers are finally tested in sports such as athletics or basketball and in “fields of movement” such as water or mountains.

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Typical questions raised within the subject

  • How do you optimize motion sequences?
  • How does the psyche affect performance?
  • Which physiological mechanisms are behind sore muscles?
  • How do you motivate a team?
  • How do you organize big sports events?
  • What potential does sport have for integrating refugees?
  • How do you teach a swimming technique?
  • How do you eat healthy?

The subject suits you,...

...if you are enthusiastic for sports. Upcoming physical education teachers must be all-rounders. Sports scientists should be interested in scientific progress, for example, when developing new materials. Research literature and some courses are in English. Mathematics skills also help, because a lot has to be calculated, the trajectory of a javelin, for example, or how the body burns carbohydrates. In general, studying sports is complex and demanding, warns Schwirtz: “Sport is not an adventure course.” The biggest hurdle for trainees is the sports aptitude test. These take place once or twice a year at numerous locations. To some extent, one can compete with the test result at several universities. Students have to pass several disciplines such as athletics, gymnastics, swimming and a ball sport on one or two days. The failure rate is 30 percent, "but those that train for three months pass the test," says Schwirtz.

Is there a numerus clausus?

In many places there is an NC for sports science, but it is rarely higher than two. In some places you can score points with a trainer certificate.

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