Guide for Submitting Applications


Currently available scholarship: Digital support for return-to-play decisions in football

The International PhD Program “Science and Health in Football” awards 1 PhD Position (two-year doctoral scholarship, net 1.200 Euro per month; possible extension to a third year) on the research topic Digital support for return-to-play decisions in soccer.

Research topic and project outline:
Digital support for decision-making in elite soccer faces a double challenge: In the lead-up, datadriven algorithms struggle to provide accurate predictions of relevant outcomes due to the mismatch between many influencing factors and the limited number of cases available. A relevant example is the risk of reinjury after return to play. At the same time, in reality the decision-making process itself is still highly subjective and poorly understood. This PhD project aims to tackle both challenges in the context of return-to play-decisions using a transdisciplinary approach. Predicting injuries after return-to-play: In situations without clear precedent humans still outperform machines and further improvements may be realized by aggregating the subjective judgements of several individuals. Therefore, a forecasting tournament for injury risk after returnto- play in professional German soccer is envisaged to be part of the project. Understanding how (successful) return-to-play decisions are made: Understanding the decisionmaking process is essential for providing adequate digital support and possibly recommendations for best practice. While this aspect has so far mainly been addressed from the perspective of sport science and rehabilitation, this project will additionally consider the psychology of human decision making.

The candidate
This transdisciplinary project in elite soccer touches on the fields of sport science, psychology, and data science. Experience with handling databases and mobile frameworks for App development is also required. The candidate should further provide knowledge of the psychological scientific work of Gigerenzer et al. on human decision-making behaviour under uncertainty and accordingly in the absence of information. Candidates with a master degree or equivalent and proven (cross-) competence in these fields are invited to apply.

The doctoral researchers will work under the co-supervision of PD Dr. Anne Hecksteden; Prof. Andreas Keller (co-supervisor), Dr. Michel Brink (University of Groningen), Prof. Dr. med. Tim Meyer (head of the PhD program and cosupervisor) and Dr. Thomas Hauser (Head of Medicine and Science, DFB-Academy). Dr. phil. Sabrina Forster (Skorski) will participate in the supervision as program coordinator. A multidisciplinary study program, including courses about the theoretical background of the research topic, practical work in performance diagnosis, teaching and transferable skills courses will complement the PhD project.


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Dr. Sabrina Forster (PhD)
Sport scientist, program coordinator
Email: sabrina.forster@uni-saarland.de


Dr. Florian Beaudouin
Sport Scientist, program coordinator
Email: florian.beaudouin@uni-saarland.de


By mail:

Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine Saarland University
- International PhD program Science and health in football -
Campus Bldg. B 8 2
D-66123 Saarbrücken

Please carefully read the instructions below before submitting your application. Only complete applications will be considered for the program.


The following pieces of information and documents are required


(1) Curriculum vitae

(2) Description of academic performance and research experience:

  • Tanscripts of records
  • Certificates of your degrees (BSc, MSc, Diploma,Magister, Staatsexamen etc.). Please submit translated certificates if the originals are not written in English or German
  • Summery of research experience (e.g. description of activities or positions in research, list of published papers, conference attendance and presentations)
  • An abstract of your graduation thesis in English 

For the first application round, scanned pdf files of certificates are accepted. In the further application process, submission of legally certified transcripts are mandatory due to University regulations.

(3) Two letters of recommendation from two independent academics and/or practitioners within the field of sport science/sport medicine

(4) Letter of motivation 

(5) A brief research proposal for the currently offered PhD project is preferable, but not required (mandatory for applications with self- or otherwise funded PhD projects)


Please provide any additional information that you consider to be useful for the selection committee in order to reach a decision on your application. The program generally starts between May and September of the upcoming year.