The aim of this programme is to bring about a positive change in sports and exercise behaviour by conducting research that specifically seeks to answer questions from the field of sports and exercise. The research programme aims to achieve both focus and mass through multidisciplinary research, with particular attention for the opportunities offered by data science. The biggest challenge is to ensure that the knowledge questions posed by the field are effectively embedded in the research proposals. This will form the basis from which practical results can be achieved. To this end, the research programmes will emphatically seek cooperation with partners in the field in project consortia.

The research focuses on the themes of the ‘Sports Knowledge Agenda’ and the ‘Sports and Exercise Keystones’ of the Dutch National Research Agenda:

  1. Improving performance
  2. Lifelong exercise
  3. Value of sport

The funding bodies are the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (Science domain), the Taskforce for Applied Research and NOC*NSF.

Example projects:

Kids First: towards a pedagogical sport climate

Youth sports can help young people in various ways, such as by improving their self-confidence. Regrettably, sports clubs are also confronted with negative behaviour like bullying and intimidation. The value of youth sports can be enhanced and problematic behaviour can be reduced by fostering a pedagogical sport climate, whereby the needs of the child are put first and the activity focuses on having fun, positive coaching and social safety. The aim of this research is to design and implement a reference framework that can be used to foster a pedagogical sport climate at youth sports clubs. The project is being conducted among young people aged 12 to 15 at eight football and hockey clubs in four municipalities.


PIE=M is the acronym for Physicians Implement Exercise is Medicine. There is plenty of scientific evidence that an inactive lifestyle increases the risk of chronic illnesses developing or becoming worse. Surprisingly, this knowledge is seldom applied by physicians: exercise as medicine does not yet have a place in standard hospital care. This project analyses why exercise as medicine has not been introduced yet and what problems physicians experience with this. The project will develop a tool that can generate a personalised exercise programme based on big data, so that exercise as medicine becomes easier to prescribe in practice.

Thermo Tokyo: Beat the Heat

The Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in Tokyo in the summer of 2020. Temperatures will exceed 30°C and the air will be extremely humid. These conditions affect the performance of the athletes and can potentially cause health problems. The aim of this project is to minimise performance losses and ensure that professional athletes can perform at their highest level in hot and humid Tokyo. To achieve this, an individual heat profile will be drawn up of each athlete. This will make it possible to recommend personalised cooling and heat acclimatisation strategies. The results of the research are not only important for professional athletes; they could be useful for the military too, for example.

Smart Sports Exercises

This project introduces new forms of indoor sports training in ‘smart sports centres’. The smart features of these centres include interactive floors on which images can be projected, inconspicuous pressure sensors and smart training programmes that offer personalised and interactive training exercises. The behaviour and performance of the individual athletes and the team as a whole can be shared with them immediately so that the exercises can be adapted as appropriate. The models are developed further by repeatedly evaluating each new iteration of the system. The project currently involves volleyball teams of various levels, ranging from professional teams to teams within physical education programmes.


Would you like more information about this programme and the projects? Please contact the programme secretary Marloes Stammen at


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