Esports & Sports Science - Jake Middleton
Tell us a bit about your work in esports. What is your area of expertise, and what is your approach?
I first started actively working in esports in 2015 while graduating from college. I received my undergraduate degree in exercise science and became a certified exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. My area of expertise is holistic training in esports with regards to exercise, nutrition, and sleep. However, I’m currently working on my master’s in sport and performance psychology applying the mental side of the performance equation as well. My approach is person-centered, educational, evidence-based, and realistic to the needs and culture of esports. I frame esports performance into 4 facets: gaming, lifestyle, psychology, and health. I work to individualize athlete and team programming based on their strengths and areas of improvement based on these facets.
What impact do you aim to have on the team and athletes you work with?
I aim to help get players and teams to buy into the idea that being successful in esports is not all about playing the game as much as possible and that other skills and types of training are just as important. I want to help athletes come to realize the importance of these things on their own so they continue to incorporate them well after we stop working together giving them skills for a lifetime. Ultimately, I want to help athletes reach their performance goals while living more balanced, healthier lifestyles and developing other skills that will help them be successful as players and in life.
Why do you think physical training is important for esports athletes/teams and how do you think they can benefit from it?
Physical training is important because esports by its nature promotes a sedentary lifestyle which we know has many negative health effects but also because exercise provides a tremendous amount of performance and longevity benefits for esports athletes. Exercise has been shown by research to improve cognitive performance, learning and memory, resistance to stress, mental endurance, motor skills, and more. For longevity benefits, exercise helps players get sick less often, improve sleep quality, aid mental health, and many other benefits that can counteract many consequences that come from the demands of competitive gaming.
Why do you think sport science research is important for esports and how can the industry benefit from it?
Sport science research is really important to understand how interventions like exercise can benefit esports athletes and the best ways to implement them. The research can also shed light on our understanding of what esports performance is and the psychophysiology of competitive gaming. The industry can benefit from this research because it can help guide practitioners working in the space while simultaneously helping change the culture by providing direct evidence for esports training practices.