Faculty conversations: Joe Eisenmann
Director of Spartan Performance Joe Eisenmann’s goal when returning to MSU was to create a center of excellence around integrated sports medicine and sports performance for the young athlete.
Spartan Performance is a youth sports training center that provides services to athletes, coaches and parents related to testing, training, sports nutrition and sports psychology.
Eisenmann received his Ph.D. at MSU in 2000 and came back in 2012 because of the rich history of pediatric exercise and sports medicine on campus. He also is an assistant professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“I’ll lecture for various classes related to sports nutrition, exercise physiology or sports medicine,” Eisenmann said. “We also hold our own class here within Spartan Performance as an intern preparation class.”
Eisenmann’s research spans the extremes of physical activity, exercise and sports.
“Here at Spartan Performance, we deal a lot with young athletes who are interested in doing intensive training,” Eisenmann said. “On the other end of the spectrum, the U.S. has many sedentary youth who are at risk for being overweight, obese or having issues of cardio metabolic health. My research spans that entire range, including things in the middle in terms of general youth physical fitness.”
Spartan Performance has strong collaborations with MSU SportsMEDICINE and MSU Rehabilitation. If a young athlete is injured, they may go to MSU SportsMEDICINE to have surgery. After surgery, they may participate in rehabilitation provided by MSU Rehabilitation. Once rehab is finished, Spartan Performance offers the athlete an opportunity to return to performing competitively.
Spartan Performance also provides outreach to the community through local coach and parent education.
“We’re working with a lot of volunteer coaches who may not have extensive training and background in sports science,” Eisenmann said. “This will allow these coaches to run effective practices, keep their athletes injury free and help them in the performance domain as well.”
The parent education includes disproving misconceptions about youth sports, Eisenmann said. For example, one misconception is that young athletes must only play one sport if they want to play that sport at the collegiate level, but Eisenmann said that research shows that is not the case.
He also is involved in the English Premiere League growth study. At the top of the English football league system, the EPL is England's primary soccer competition.
The EPL has an academy system for boys, ages 9-21, to foster their growth and development to hopefully play on a top-level team. A lot of the EPL teams have to bring in players from other countries. The goal of the EPL growth study is to develop more players from England.
“In order to do this, they need to better understand how they are developing those young players in their academy system,” Eisenmann said. “We’re studying every youth soccer player in the academy system from head to toe and getting them a lot better understanding of their developmental trajectories during the time they’re in the academy to hopefully project them on the first team for that respective EPL team.”
Through Spartan Performance, Eisenmann also helps young athletes in the Greater Lansing area to perform at the highest level possible.