Sports Medicine and Movement Lab – Gretchen Oliver, Ph.D.


The Sports Medicine and Movement Lab studies sport biomechanics and provides evidence-based injury prevention protocols. Director Gretchen Oliver, Ph.D., FACSM, ATC, and her doctoral students specialize in kinematics, motion analysis, functional assessment, and injury prevention.

Gretchen Oliver’s research focuses on injury prevention in youth, collegiate, and professional athletes, and provides strengthening, stretching, and performance feedback to participants who may be at increased risk of injury.

Partners and Analyses

Youth Baseball

Caleb Chisum sicence project on baseball mechanics researchCaleb Chisum is a 7th grade honors student at Opelika Middle School. He chose to utilize his participation in research at the Sports Medicine and Movement Lab in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University as a topic for his Science Fair Project. Caleb’s project “Which Pitching Mechanics are Best for Baseball Pitchers?” will be presented at the Opelika Middle School Science Fair in February.

Caleb with science fair posterIf Caleb places in the Medicine and Health Category, he will compete at the Greater East Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair held on campus at Auburn University in March. Caleb has visited the Sports Medicine and Movement Lab on three different occasions and will be using the analytics from his data. He is interested in finding the best mechanics and techniques for his body to best manage the physical demands of baseball and then share that information with the baseball community.

Collegiate & Professional Softball

The Lab has worked with the Auburn University Softball team since 2014. They assess pitching, hitting, and throwing, and help improve performance. The Lab has also analyzed the pitching of USA Softball, USSSA Pride, a professional softball team in Florida, and All-American softball pitcher and ESPN analyst, Amanda Scarborough.

Beyond the Bases: Auburn’s Pitching Lab

The SEC Network provides an inside look at how the Sports Medicine and Movement Lab is improving pitching mechanics.

Scarborough and Rutledge with Oliver
ESPN’s Amanda Scarborough and Laura Rutledge explore the science behind the pre throwing program of AU Softball with Gretchen Oliver. ESPN Video: Beyond the Bases.
Scarborough and Rutledge on balance boards
ESPN’s Amanda Scarborough and Laura Rutledge trying out some of the pre throwing exercises. Check out the ESPN Video: Balance Board Report.
amanda scarborough pitching
Watch this video featuring ESPN Analyst Amanda Scarborough.
USSSA Pride softball pitching
The lab working with Professional Fast Pitch Softball and the USSSA Pride.
Pain History and Pitching Mechanics

From Spring 2016-2017 we collected data on over 90 collegiate softball pitchers on pain history and pitching mechanics. Data included 17 NCAA softball teams representing 9 conferences, with three of the teams ranking in the NCAA top 20 for consecutive years. During 2017, many were ranked in the NCAA top 20, and additionally:

  • three were in the top 10 of NCAA most victorious pitchers
  • two were ranked in the NCAA top 20 for hits allowed
  • three were ranked in the NCAA top 20 for strikeouts per seven innings

US Polo Association

The Sports Medicine and Movement Lab conducted a study with the U.S. Polo Association analyzing about 20 men and women polo players. The lab is also working with the U.S. Polo Association Player Development program to provide evidence-based exercises to improve player development.

Video of the study with the U.S. Polo Association in action.
USPA Polo Development Starts Study with Auburn University Kinesiology Department

AU sports medicine lab doing exercise with polo players polo player riding horse and swinging mallet to hit ball

Dr. Oliver traveled to Sheridan, WY to work with USPA Player Development. USPA is beginning to implement pre-riding programs, developed by Dr. Oliver, for their youth athletes. Additionally, work is being done on the effects of the pre-riding programs and their swing mechanics and riding posture.

This is Research 2016

sarah gascon with performance shirt prototypeCreative Scholarship Showcase>

Doctoral student in the Sports Medicine and Movement Lab, Sarah Gascon, had her work featured in the Creative Scholarship Showcase. The works were on display at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art from September 17 through October 2, 2016. The event included faculty and student works in the fields of fine art, performing arts, creative writing, applied design, and more. Sarah and graduate student, Dawn Michaelson in Apparel Design, created a women’s athletic compression top that is both biomechanical and functional. The prototype combines compression, wicking, and comfort to enhance performance.