How to Write a Research Proposal in Sports: Defining the Project

Writing guide
Posted on August 7, 2020

No matter what kind of assignment you have, your initial goal is to define its main purpose and goals. A research proposal is a specific and coherent summary of a scientific project suggested by a researcher. It clearly outlines the main intentions of a researcher concerning his/her suggestions to study and explore. You have to select a certain subject and a concrete area within it, which must be studied. As your topic is sports, look for an interesting issue that provides some interest to a concrete group of people.

Oftentimes, research proposals are proposed by undergraduate students who have some brilliant ideas about an important issue but who have insufficient funds to investigate the matter. Writing a good research proposal, they hope to attract potential investors who would provide the money to conduct a proper study. Besides, this project is likewise proposed by mature students who feel they are able to demonstrate outstanding knowledge and skills in the chosen discipline. For example, you may demonstrate your clear and logical thinking, which is reflected in a concise, plain, and critically written research proposal in sports.

It’s likewise important to understand the type of your assignment. A research proposal has three possible variants. Here are they:

  1. Solicited. This is the case when someone (your supervisor, another scientist, sponsor) asks you to conduct a specific study in accordance with specific demands.
  2. Unsolicited. This type is the intention of a student. It means he/she wasn’t asked or requested to write the project but decided to make it on his/her own on a particular topic.
  3. Preproposal. This type is written by students in order to receive approval from their academic supervisors. Students are not quite sure they have selected an adequate topic to cover and so, ask a piece of advice from their supervisors. This type is commonly nothing more than an abstract, which is about 200-300 words long.

Choosing a Topic

The next step in writing your assignment is to choose a proper topic. The field of sports is very vast and thus, promising. You will have a lot of good ideas to cover. Of course, you should always keep in mind that your topic must be relevant to your audience and disclose an issue, which provides a solution to an important problem or suggests reviewing an old concept from a new and fresh angle.

Here are several great topics on sports to cover:

  • Is It Normal to Watch Games with Violence?
  • How Violent Rules in American Football May Affect People?
  • Why the Olympic Games Are So Important for Athletes?
  • The Cultural and Social Values of the Olympic Games;
  • WADA and Its Evaluation of Forbidden Preparations for Athletes;
  • How Do Athletes Know What Preparations Can Be Used If the Rules Constantly Change?
  • Is Hockey Too Brutal and Does Not It Promote Violence?
  • Why So Many People Prefer Figure Skating and Its Benefits?
  • The Main Reasons Soccer Became So Popular;
  • Why Does Soccer Look More Like a Business Than Sports Today?
  • Is It Fair to Add American Football to the Olympic Competitions?
  • The Importance of Ethics in Sports;
  • Does the Rule of ‘Fair Play’ Always Work and How to Punish the Breakers of the Rule?
  • Why Children Should Go in for Sports Early?
  • The Main Benefits for People Who Exercise Physically.

Consider our list of suggestions. It offers vivid topics and you’re welcome to choose any of them. You may likewise create your own concepts based on our list.

Pre-Writing Tips

Before you begin to write your research proposal on sports, you ought to pass several preliminary steps. One of them has been highlighted above. It’s a topic selection. Afterward, you ought to research the selected issue, verify the data, sort it out, and make a plan.

You must be 100% confident that you possess enough information to support your theory. Conduct in-depth research and spend several days on finding the required information. Some students devote to this process from 7 to 14 days or even more. Gather as many facts as possible and stop when you feel they are enough.

Afterward, review your information sources attentively. Perhaps some of them don’t really fit the chosen question. Throw them out and leave the ones, which fully meet the purpose of your project. Obligatorily think about where and how to implement them into the text. Some may be used in the beginning and the others will be more effective in the end. Such points should be included in the research plan.

Your plan is of huge importance. It contains the main objectives of your project. You should give heed to the introduction, your objectives, approach, expected outcome, some broader impacts, and conclusion beforehand. Only after you find the answers to these points, you may begin to write.

Your introduction provides your readers with information concerning the research area and motivation. You ought to convince your readers that your assignment is worth reading and pondering upon it. Explain what and why you have chosen to disclose.

Give heed to your approach. Make sure you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to conduct a proper study. Try to predict an approximate outcome of your study. You already have some thoughts about how it must end. Compare them to the information you have found and draw clearer conclusions. Afterward, think about the value of the anticipated outcome. How will it affect the field of sports? Never forget the initial predictions because you will have to compare them to the final outcome of your research. You’ll have to say how precise they were and whether you’re satisfied with what you’ve received.

The Main Sections of the Project

A research proposal surely differs from essays and many other academic assignments. Its format has many differences and you should know them all. We’ll provide a brief overview of a research proposal template.


The title plainly illustrates the main purpose of the entire research. It must be pretty short, clear, and straight to the point. Commonly, it’s no longer than 25 words.


The abstract is a brief summary of your project, which is given beforehand. It focuses on the main question and sub-questions that are highlighted in the project. Reading it, your supervisor and readers will instantly understand what you have described in the main sections. The length varies in dependence on the educational institutions. It varies from 200 to 350 words.

Table of Contents

This section serves as an outline of your writing. It provides readers with the headings and sub-headings. Using it, your readers will quickly orient to get to the section that is interesting to them. The formats are different and you should obligatorily consult your academic supervisor. Make sure you know and understand how to create the table. Commonly, it looks like this:

  • Heading 1
  • 2.1 Subheading 1
  • 2.1.1 Subheading 2
  • 2.1.2 Subheading 2
  • 2.2 Subheading 2
  • 3 Heading 1

Or some similar variant.


The introductory part provides basic information concerning the studied topic. It must be informative and straight to the point. Thus, your audience will understand the value of your project. The introduction differs from most academic assignments because it is quite long. It consists of 500-700 words and it’s allowed adding images, diagrams, tables, etc.

Research Question

The next section provides the statement of the problem or objective you have opted for. It is often called a thesis statement because its main purpose is to clarify the main goal of your research. However, it’s much longer than a common thesis that consists of a single sentence. This one contains from 100 to 150 words. Therefore, you ought to try harder and longer.

It discusses the main objective or problem, as well as the existing techniques and methods that help to overcome the studied problem. You are supposed to add a list of objectives you intend to carry out in order to find the best solution. For example, you may write about violence in sports. Many games are quite brutal and you should suggest several solutions. Among such are more severe penalties for the brutal players, canceling of certain rules, implementation of new safer rules, etc. The whole research is strongly dependent on this section and you must take it seriously.

Literature Review

You will have to spend some time on the completion of a literature review. It’s the longest section even if it provides brief pieces of information. You ought to highlight the information you have found and the benefits you have reaped from it. You must mention all the information sources you have used in your research proposal on sports. Among such are research papers, books, manuals, published articles, and something of the kind.

Moreover, you must give feedback of the outstanding contributors to the problem you investigate. As you can see, it’s a time-consuming process. We suggest making notes each time you come across a good source of information. Thus, you’ll be able to keep those sources in your head.


It’s an interesting and important section. It is dependent on the previous part called ‘Literature Review’. Your hypothesis must be based on the works of other authors who had somehow studied your main question. Mind that you aren’t obliged to provide the same outcomes. It’s quite possible that you will find some new possibilities in studying your question and thus, the outcomes may slightly or even hugely differ from the researches of other scientists. The length is about 100-150 words.


This section gives your readers information about the methods and techniques you have used during your research. You ought to explain why you have preferred this or that method and how it benefited to your research. Provide a clear justification. The size of this section varies between 500-600 words. It’s must be likewise mentioned that some educational institutions require sampling methods and techniques. These are participants who somehow contributed to your research. Sometimes, this information is provided in a separate section and requires 200-300 words.


This is another interesting and rather specific part of writing a research proposal. Almost every serious scientific project must be based on the ethical code. A researcher needs approvals from different departments to be sure he/she doesn’t violate some rules or laws and doesn’t hurt somebody’s feelings. In most cases, it is required in research proposals dedicated to medicine and biology. However, other fields involve it too and sport is no exception.


It is also required to provide the timeline of your study. You have to mention the expected time duration you needed to fulfill every stage of your project. It’s a short report, which exists in the form of a time schedule. Commonly, its length is 100-200 words.


Your scientific research will definitely contain some specific words, which are unknown to most people. You must provide clarifications of all the technical terms, jargon and other unknown words. Use the section called ‘Terminologies’ to do that. Thus, your readers won’t ponder upon the meaning of specific words.


Make a list of information resources you have used in your project. They must be composed in accordance with the assigned writing style. It may be APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.

Post-Writing Tips

Obligatorily revise your project several times. To receive better results, use different methods. Read on your own and ask other people to read it too. Try several applications, which help to identify grammar, spelling, stylistic, and other errors. Use a citation generator to make correct citations, etc. Edit and proofread your assignment and you’ll avoid many mistakes. Don’t forget to write them down and memorize to never repeat them in the future.

As you can see, this project isn’t that easy to complete. There are many issues to consider and each has its specifications and problems. If you memorize our guide, you sufficiently increase your chances to write a great research proposal in sports.

  1. University of Birmingham (2019). How to Write a Research Proposal.
  2. Sport research/The Research Proposal.
  3. Bhasin H. (2019). How to Write Research Proposal? Research Proposal Format.
  4. Klazema A. (2014). A Sample of Research Proposal Outlines and Papers.
  5. Purdue University (2019). Sample Academic Proposals.
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