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.

This is Research 2018

Gabby Gilmer and Abby Brittain award winners

Gabby Gilmer (senior, chemical engineering major) won First Place for Undergraduate Oral Presentation for STEM, an Auburn University-wide award. Gabby will be working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD starting in May 2018. She received the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award and will be working in the Epithelial Systems Biology lab in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Abby Brittain (junior, exercise science major) won Top Undergraduate Poster Presentation in the College of Education. Abby received an Auburn University 2017-2018 Undergraduate Research Fellowship for the College of Education for her project, Kinematics of the Polo Swing.

Partners and Analyses

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

Gretchen Oliver, Ph.D., FACSM, ATC, traveled to Sheridan, WY in the summer of 2017 to work with USPA Player Development. USPA is beginning to implement pre-riding programs, developed by 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.

Videos explaining In-Depth Swing Fundamentals:

Introduction to the Kinetic Chain Theory
Injury Prevention for Players
Pelvic Stability and the Kinetic Chain


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.