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Alumni profile: Exercise and Sport Science

Dr Jonathan Freeston
Jonathan is an Exercise and Sport Science alumni and has worked as a sport scientist with the Cleveland Indians, a Major League Baseball team in the United States.
Jonathan Freeston

Dr Jonathan Freeston at the home stadium of the Cleveland Indians

Jonathan first completed a Bachelor of Exercise Science (Hons) degree before progressing into a PhD in sport science. After completing his PhD, he was offered a teaching position then a full academic position as a senior lecturer in exercise, health and performance in the Sydney School of Health Sciences.  

He was offered the opportunity to conduct research while being embedded in the Cleveland Indians, a Major League Baseball team as a sport scientist. 

In his own words

"I have always had a strong interest in sport. I was an athlete first, being heavily involved in baseball, athletics and cricket during my time at school. When it came time to choose an undergraduate degree, it was a relatively easy choice for me to explore exercise and sport science.

"I did not really have a clear goal or career aspiration in mind, but I knew I was interested in learning more about the human body and how this understanding could improve sports performance and reduce sporting injuries. Once I completed my undergraduate degree, I was heavily involved in coaching baseball and cricket at elite levels and was interested in further developing my understanding of ways to improve outcomes for athletes in these sports.

"It had always been a dream of mine to work with a Major League Baseball team so when the opportunity arose to work with the Cleveland Indians as a part of my sabbatical (Special Studies Program), I jumped at the chance. The relationship developed from there and I was offered a fellowship to conduct research while being embedded in the team as a sport scientist for 2 years.

"It has been an amazing experience and I look forward to bringing some of these experiences back into my research and teaching work at the University."

Jonathan Freeston

Jonathan Freeston assessing a player during a game

What does a day in the life as a sport scientist look like?

"The most unique feature about Major League Baseball is the playing schedule. A typical season consists of 162 games across a 180-day period. This means we play an average of 6.3 games per week. As a result, our daily routine is very well practiced and typically involves the following:

  • Daily reports: Prior to arriving at the stadium, it is my responsibility to provide daily reports from the game the night before. These reports highlight which athletes might have had a particularly demanding game yesterday, as well as which athletes might be in need of extra work.
  • Medical review meeting: When we arrive at the stadium, the first thing we do every day is meet with other members of the performance team including strength and conditioning coaches, sport scientists, athletic trainers, physical therapists and massage therapists. In this meeting we go over the day’s schedule and discuss each of the players on our team – including what medical issues they have (if any) and what work they have that day.
  • Strength and conditioning meeting: We discuss what each player has that day in terms of their warm up, any strength training we would like them to do as well as any running or conditioning activities.
  • Physical assessments and training: Following these meetings the athletes start to arrive at the stadium. We take them through their training and help them get ready for the game that evening. As a sport scientist, I have a particular focus on completing a range of physical assessments, as well as using technology to objectively measure the amount of work being done by each athlete.
  • In-game observation: Once preparations are done, the game begins. My role during this time is to observe the game and make notes about how much work is being done by each athlete, how they are performing, and identifying any potential risk factors for injury. During this time I also enter data from all of the day’s activities into our online database.
  • Daily review: Towards the end of the game, the strength and conditioning group meets to review the day and highlight any potential issues for the next day."