Technological advances are helping people to improve in almost every aspect of life. They can make tasks quicker and simpler, improve efficiency, give people more data, and make it possible to do things that were once thought impossible. One group of people who can benefit from technological advancements is athletes.
Scientists have discovered many ways of using technology to help athletes enhance various aspects of their performance. Each of these has something different to offer athletes, such as performance data, health or lifestyle information, increasing speed or strength, and many more useful purposes. Here are 20 advances in technology that could help athletic performance.
1. Sports Genetics
Scientists have discovered that analyzing an individual’s DNA can give them a vast range of information about the person. It can already tell them if the person is genetically predisposed to suffer from certain conditions and the details of their ancestry. Now scientists have turned their attention to how reading DNA can potentially improve sports performance, says Richard van Hooijdonk.
They are researching how genetic markers can tell them everything they need to know about how an individual athlete could improve their performance. Not only can they discover which sport a person is most likely to excel, but they can understand what a person needs to eat to succeed and how their body will react to intensive training.
2. Wearable Hydration Trackers
The Next Web reports how there is now wearable hydration trackers that help athletes to optimize their hydration levels. Getting hydration levels right during physical activity is essential. Too much water will cause you to feel sick and bloated, while not enough leads to dehydration. Harvard has produced a product called Nix. This is a wearable hydration tracker that lets athletes know when, what, and how much to drink.
3. Video Technology
According to Innovation Enterprise, video analysis and video refereeing are now used in a wide range of sports. The analysis allows individuals, teams, and coaches to assess strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, and areas that require further training. This information is then used to improve performance through better training programs and by implementing new strategies. Video refereeing can have more accurate results and is less biased than relying solely on a human referee. It can show incidents in more detail and in slow motion. Video refereeing also allows viewing of an incident from a different angle.
4. Individual Data Analytics
Knowing whether an athlete is improving or not comes down to data. Coaches are constantly tracking and monitoring the performance of an athlete to see whether they are improving. According to Richard van Hooijdonk, new technology is allowing coaches to measure performance more accurately. This allows coaches to see even marginal gains in the performance of an athlete. So, they can even see an improvement of just 0.001 percent.
Hydrodynamics is the study of reducing resistance in the water. Hydrodynamics technology has been used on many occasions to help those whose sport involves spending time in the water, says Innovation Enterprise. The perfect example of this is creating materials for swimming costumes that allow a swimmer to glide through the water at speed because the materials are not causing resistance.
6. Respiratory Monitoring
There are many technologies that track heart rate during exercise, but Strados is a technology that takes things a step further, says The Next Web. This technology uses a microphone and a specialized mechanical coupler to monitor every wheeze, cough or irregularity in breathing. The results it records combine heart rate, respiratory rates, and activity levels. Athletes can then use the data to improve their performance.
7. Football Position Tracking
Technology is now being used in a wide range of sports, and one of these is football, says Technogym. Tracking devices are used to record how the players moves, when they are in possession of the ball, and if they are involved in any collisions. This data is then collated and used by football coaches to plan training sessions and to put players in the positions where they are needed the most or where they can make the most useful contribution to a game. In terms of the training programs, coaches used the information to individualize training programs for each player so they can make improvements on areas of weakness.
8. Team Performance Analytics
When a team of athletes takes part in a sport, it is important to look at the performance of the team as a whole and not just as a group of individuals. ID Tech gives the perfect example of how technology is used to do this. Kirk Lacob is the son of the owner of the Golden States Warriors. A Stanford graduate, he began tracking the data and statistics of the team. He developed a program to track team performance analytics so that they could use the data for improving the team’s performance.
9. Sleep Monitoring
It has long been known that sleep is important for athletes. Their body needs to sleep to get enough rest and to allow their bodies to rebuild cells. Sleep is also important for focus and optimal performance. For these reasons, there is now technology that tracks an athlete’s sleep, says BizTech Magazine. Not only does it track how much sleep the athlete is getting, but it also monitors when they sleep, their sleeping patterns, and the quality of their sleep. This can help an athlete by giving them an idea of how much more sleep they need and if they need to improve the quality of their sleep. By putting strategies in place to improve this, they can them improve their focus and overall performance.
10. Virtual Reality
ID Tech says that virtual reality is becoming useful for improving athletic performance and for engaging fans. Using virtual reality allows athletes to practice moves such as throwing in a virtual space with a reduced risk of injury. This gives them a safe way to improve various elements of their performance. Fans can also benefit from virtual reality as live sporting events are broadcast using a combination of live imaging and virtual reality to give them an improved viewing experience.
11. 3D Scans
A health startup called Klarismo creates medical imaging that gives a greater understanding of the physiology and composition of individuals. In the past, MRI scans were only available for medical investigations. Klarismo is now making the same technology available for doctors working with sports teams. One piece of information that the scans can reveal is the ratio of fat to muscle of an individual. It can also help to identify any weak areas that could increase the risk of injury in the future.
12. Recovering from Injury
According to BizTech Magazine, there is wearable technology available that can help an athlete to recover from an injury quicker and improve their performance following an injury. They do this by measuring muscle stress when a load is placed on an athlete during training. FC Dallas is already using such technology to help their players recover from injury. The Major League Soccer team has seen impressive results, with players recovering as much as two months earlier than predicted because of the information given by the wearable technology.
13. Blended Learning
Education plays as much of a role in an athlete’s performance as their natural abilities. It is important that an athlete has a full understanding of their physiology, fitness, nutrition, and many other pieces of information. According to Coaches Clipboard, athletes can use the Internet as a resource for information and videos that will teach them what they need to know to improve. There are online courses, demonstration videos, and research articles, all at the touch of a button.
14. Swing Analysis
The sport to which swing analysis is most important is golf, although there are also technologies available that focus on sports such as baseball and tennis. Swing Technologies is a range of motion capture and analysis programs that are easy to use. They monitor swing action that is then analyzed using a comprehensive software suite for video analysis. This allows a player to try different techniques and postures to improve their swing.
15. Smart Clothing
Measuring fitness during training sessions is a vital element of improving performance in the modern world of sport. Wired highlights just one of the methods used to achieve this. Smart clothing is something on which several companies are working to improve athlete’s performance. One example is a company called Sthos, which was founded by Chris Wiebe and Dhananja Jayalath. Their smart clothing has sensors to measure how the body performs during exercise. The sensors sync with an iOS app that measures muscle activity and exertion levels.
16. Technology for Mental Stimulation
The mind plays an important role in athletic performance. Just some of the roles of the mind in sports are focus, coordination, and precision. Therefore, warming up the mind can make a significant difference to performance. That was the focus for the co-founders of Halo Neuroscience. They focused on the motor cortex, which is responsible for co-ordination. They have developed a product called Halo Sport, which is a headband with foam nibs that deliver pulses to the motor cortex to fire neurons together. The product is connected to the Halo Sport app, which records data collected while wearing the headband. By wearing the technology for 20 minutes before training or an event, an athlete will increase their brain plasticity and their ability to make new circuits.
17. Performance Nutrition
A lot of scientific research into athletic performance has focused on nutrition. This has shown scientists what athletes need to perform better and then to create technologies that can produce what the athletes need. Ketones have been a significant area of interest for scientists and nutritionists as these give a rapid burst of energy and encourage the body to burn fat instead of the glucose from carbohydrates, says Wired. Ketones are naturally produced in the body, but researchers at Oxford University have now used technology produced these for an innovative new sports drink that will improve athletic performance.
18. Biomechanical Technology
According to Forbes, biomechanical technology allows researchers to observe, measure, experiment, and test the performance of an athlete. One of the biggest companies that uses this type of technology is P3 Applied Sports Science. They use a data-driven approach to understanding athlete movements and use their suite of technologies to assess this. The information is used to build superior versions of who the athletes already are.
19. Military Technology
There are even examples of how military technology is being applied to athletic performance. One person who is doing this is sports science pioneer Mackie Shilstone. He has become known as a career extension specialist as he predominantly works with older athletes that people assume are coming to the end of their athletic career. He uses a variety of technologies to get the best out of his clients, including DEXA x-rays, physician assessments, and nutritional planning. He has also used military technology, such as the run and gun drills used by the military. Similarly, he used data relating to fighter planes to improve the performance of NFL players.
20. Advanced Statistics
Athletic performance is a numbers game, and statistics provide a vital role in improving performance. One company that is focusing on this area is Hudl, and its technology gives some of the most diverse, specific, and technical statistics available. This technology is already used by the NFL to give coaches a customized look at the statistical analysis of their players’ performance. This allows coaches to tweak training and to put strategies in place to improve the overall performance of both individual players and the team.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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