History of BASES

BASES (formerly BASS) was founded in September 1984 following the dissolution of the Biomechanics Study Group, the British Society of Sports Psychology and the Society of Sports Sciences.

Establishment and early years: 1984-1992

The British Association of Sports Sciences (BASS) was established in order to be able to speak with one more powerful voice about UK sports sciences. The original aims of BASS were to facilitate communication amongst those actively engaged in the scientific study of sport and to promote the dissemination of information derived from the scientific study of sport.

The original BASS Executive Committee comprised two representatives from each of the four sections and the Editor of the Journal of Sports Sciences. This group comprised Adrian Lees and David Kerwin (Sports Biomechanics), Frank Sanderson and Gerry Barrell (Sports Psychology), Clyde Williams and David Kellett (Sports Physiology), John Alderson and Les Burwitz (Open Section) and Tom Reilly (Editor JSS). The constitution required the Executive Committee to elect the first officers and Clyde Williams, Les Burwitz and Adrian Lees became the first Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. 

The first BASS conference took place in Chichester in September 1985 when it was announced that there were 146 members (2 Honorary, 117 full and 12 students). At that time, Clyde Williams spoke of the enthusiasm, goodwill and spirit of co-operation that had led to the establishment of BASS.

From BASS to BASES: 1993-1995

There have been a number of significant changes since the inception of BASS. The first was in 1993 when BASS became BASES in anticipation of the crucial role that physical activity would be seen to have in society. The major proponents of this change were Andy Smith, Stuart Biddle and Adrian Taylor, but the implication was far reaching in that the remit of the Association was suddenly extended and every aspect of BASES needed to respond accordingly under the careful guidance of the BASES Chair Roger Bartlett.

The evolution of BASES: 1996-2014

A second major change occurred in 1996 when the Open Section became the Interdisciplinary Section. This development was led by Andy Miles and Andy Borrie, who produced a position paper on Interdisciplinary Sport Science in 1997 that made reference to the 1992 Sports Council funded Interdisciplinary Research Review, written by Les Burwitz, Phil Moore and Dave Wilkinson. The constitutional change meant that the Section could concentrate on fostering the integration of sport and exercise science knowledge across various disciplines to explain relevant behaviours and inform practice and policy in sport and physical activity.

The third change occurred following the February 2005 EGM, where BASES members voted in support of another significant step forward for the Association: to form BASES as a private company limited by guarantee and to govern BASES by a Memorandum and Articles of Association and Rules (rather than by the Constitution). As a consequence of the vote, BASES was incorporated under the Companies Act 1985 as a private limited company in March 2005.

The fourth significant change was the decision taken at the Association’s second EGM held in February 2005 to restructure and form three Divisions in the areas of Sport and Performance; Physical Activity for Health; and Education and Professional Development. The overriding opinion was that BASES needed to change its structure to more appropriately reflect the external environment. It was anticipated that this decision would attract more members from sport and health professionals, students and HE/FE staff.

The fifth and final change to BASES structure took place in 2014, when members of the Association voted to re-structure the three Divisions (Sport and Performance; Physical Activity for Health; and Education and Professional Development) into five Divisions: Biomechanics and Motor Behaviour; Physiology and Nutrition; Psychology; Physical Activity for Health and Sport and Performance. The change from three to five Divisions was prompted by the membership.

Achievements and Milestones

2015: BASES worked closely with the Premier League to improve the quality and development of their sport and exercise science staff. BASES developed long-term plans to strengthen this excellent relationship and provide support to those working within professional football. The Premier League introduced BASES accreditation as an essential requirement for employment of all sport and exercise science staff working within their academies.

2016: BASES announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), updated in March 2023, which outlined a collaborative relationship that aims to foster international co-operation for the benefit of all professions and professionals involved within the respective organisations.

2018: BASES and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) signed a MOU formally recognising a shared commitment to developing a professional standards framework for the sport and physical activity sector. The MOU, updated in October 2020, affirmed BASES status as the leading authority governing professional standards in sport and exercise science.

2019: BASES signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), updated in March 2023, and Sport and Exercise Science New Zealand (SESNZ). Both agreements outlined our shared aim to increase international collaboration, in addition to benefitting association members via resource sharing and access to discounts on continuous professional development (CPD) events and training courses. 2019 also saw the launch of the International Alliance for Sport and Exercise Science, which aims to positively impact individuals, communities and countries by advancing the practice of sport and exercise sciences worldwide. BASES was instrumental in the creation of the International Alliance Steering Committee (IASC), which was made up of representatives from leading sport and exercise science associations from across the globe.

2020: BASES established its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group to drive forward our EDI agenda. BASES formally launched the BASES Sport and Exercise Psychology Accreditation Route (SEPAR), a programme of professional development, skill acquisition and supervised practice to ensure that candidates acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience required to be eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Practitioner Psychologist. BASES signed as a Foundational Member of the International Confederation of Sport and Exercise Science Practice.

2021: Full governance review resulting in the formation of new Standing Committees and Advisory Groups, including a Public and External Affairs Advisory Group and a Climate Change Action Team. The BASES’ Board signed a partnership with Clinical Exercise Physiology UK (CEP-UK) whose aim is to establish and promote the role of Clinical Exercise Physiologists as part of the treatment and management of chronic and complex health conditions within the UK healthcare system. BASES will house CEP-UK within our governance structure and the CEP-UK Advisory Group will report directly to the BASES’ Board.

2022: Launch of the BASES Postgraduate SEPAR Endorsement Scheme (PSES). EDI Advisory Group launched the BASES’ Role Models initiative for underrepresented members. Board agreed to extend the graduate membership qualifying period from one year to three years, to offer an improved student / graduate offering and to assist our members. Following a review of the existing agreement, BASES and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) announced a new Memorandum of Understanding to support our members in helping to keep sport clean. BASES signed a new Partnership Agreement with BASIS, the British Association for Sustainable Sport, a new Memorandum of Collaboration with Clinical Exercise Physiology Association (CEPA) and a new Partnership Agreement with ISPAS, the International Society of Performance Analysis of Sport. At the 2022 Annual General Meeting in November, the membership unanimously supported and approved the new Values, Commitments and Behaviours. BASES wrote to the Privy Council Office Statement with our intent to petition for the grant of a Royal Charter.

2023: BASES celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Chairs of the Association

2021 - present: Zoe Knowles

2018-2021: Richard Tong

2015-2018: Keith Tolfrey

2012-2015: Ian Campbell

2010-2012: Jo Doust

2008-2010: Jo Doust

2006-2008: Richard Davison

2004-2006: Craig Mahoney

2002-2004: Clyde Williams

2000-2002: Neil Spurway

1998-2000: Andy Smith

1996-1998: Les Burwitz

1994-1996: Tom Reilly

1991-1994: Roger Bartlett

1989-1991: Neil Armstrong

1987-1989: Tudor Hale

1984-1987: Clyde Williams


BASES stands for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. BASES is the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK.

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