It is no secret that elite athletes will go to great lengths to get an extra edge on the competition, with some even bending the rules or outright breaking them (looking at you Lance Armstrong). However, for every deflate-gate there is another team or athlete who are doing everything they can within the rulebook to be the best they possibly can be. A lot of this has been made possible through the integration of technology in sports training. The rapid technological advancement of the 21st century has allowed athletes to continually improve across a multitude of sports. Let’s take a look at some of the key ways tech Is being used in various sports.
GPS trackers in soccer have been a vanguard of way sports science has revolutionized the way athletes have been coached and analysed. In fitness departments all across Soccer’s top leagues, including the Premier League, you can now find analysts and coaches pouring over physiological data. By using a vest with a built in GPS they can monitor the total distance, high intensity distance, sprint distance, top speeds and a range of other physical performance metrics of their players. Not only does this help coaches and players tailor their training towards their performance and goals, but it also helps with minimising injury. For example, if the tracker indicates that in training that a player is covering 12km when they are only likely to cover 8km in an average game, they are likely working too hard thus putting themselves at greater risk of strain in than necessary.
It goes without saying that scoring hoops is one of the most important skills a basketball player possesses. Like the GPS Vests, ShotTracker is a wearable device that tracks players performances on the court. ShotTracker is made up of two sensors, one worn on the arm or in the shoe of a player and one on the net. This tracks player movement, shot attempts, makes, and misses and relays the information to an app on a smartphone or tablet. By analyzing the shots made, it then provides advice on how it can be improved and from where players shots are most successful. It can even map an entire court out in 3D and point out your entire team’s movement, helping you identify plays. The best thing about ShotTracker is that it can be used for NBA teams and for individuals who are working to improve their own game.
You will struggle to find a professional golfer who does not utilize a TrackMan monitor or something of its ilk. Jordan Spieth, who is amongst the favourites to take home the coveted Green Jacket according to the Masters betting, is an avid user of this incredible piece of technology. It is essentially a virtual golf simulator which displays a 3D golf course with users able to drive, putt and chip balls directly at the screen for a real-time playing experience. You can even change weather conditions that will directly affect your shots. They have now incorporated the use of A.I known as “Tracy” which will recommend what you should work on based on a minimum of six shots on a TrackMan device. Tracy will audibly communicate with players and make recommendations based on the 500-million-plus shots the company has collected around the world.
Virtual reality has become a phenomenon in media, especially in gaming. However, pro NFL players have actually been utilizing the tech for a while now. Buffalo Bills Quarterback Case Keenum turned to STRIVR to improve his game. He viewed over 2500 plays through VR whilst at the Minnesota Vikings, which translated to him getting to review every play the Vikings ran in one season two to three times. This is especially important for backup quarterbacks whose respective game times are limited. It means that they are able to virtually run through the plays that they will need to know should they be called upon at a moments notice. They are able to slot into the position seamlessly without playing a snap.
Pitchf/x is one of the older pieces of technology discussed on this list, but its impact cannot be understated. Since 2006, all MLB stadiums have Pitchf/x installed which allows for the examination of every pitch and pertinent data such as velocity, spin, and movement. This does not only allow players and coaches to assess the peaks and troughs of their pitchers games but also what works against specific hitters. This essentially means that coaches and players are able to enter every game with a plan in mind for specific hitters and pitch accordingly. Sportvision has since developed additional tools like Hitf/x and Fieldf/x, which gather similar movement tracking data but for batted balls and player movements.
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