In the past, sports training required extensive paperwork and post-practice effort from both the trainer and the athlete. While the athlete practiced, notes and video were diligently taken and then collated into charts and graphs representing that athlete’s performance. After practice, trainer and athlete would work together discussing aches, pains, and thoughts about physical movements that happened much earlier. The system was grueling, but worked as far as athletes and trainers knew. That is until recent technology transformed the field of sports training.
Advanced technology has become smaller, more resilient, and less burdensome over recent years, paving the way for new opportunities, especially in athletics. Now athletes wear sensors that convey real-time information to a trainer’s tablet, GPS accurately pinpoints motion, smartphones keep everyone current and wearable tech can prevent injuries. Compared to whiteboards and post-practice reviews, technology has substantially increased athletic potential.
Technology is revolutionizing sports training by live-tracking performances, perfecting athletic movements, enhancing communication and virtually eliminating injuries.
Using sensors placed on the body or in “smart clothing” (active wear with sensing fibers woven in), sports trainers can measure and track performance in real time. Almost anything about the athlete can be measured, from breathing and heart rate, to hydration and temperature.
These live metrics can help the trainer determine what aspects each athlete needs to focus on more. Athletes are unique, and real-time individual performance measurements can set a more precise and accurate baseline. During practice, trainers can read live metrics and decide when it’s time to rest, stretch or train harder.
Lasers and GPS have been incorporated into various aspects of the sports training world. Instead of relying on times and splits, trainers can measure the exact position, distance, velocity and acceleration of athletes to better understand where they can improve. Identifying more intricate data leads to improved performance with less stress and chance for injury.
Perfecting Athletic Movements
Mounir Zok, the Director of Technology and Innovation for the U.S. Olympic Commission, has watched technology change and mold sports for the better. He claims that sports technology is so advanced that it can create a ‘digital code’ for winning the gold medal. What he means is: data collected and compared can ultimately translate into a gold medal performance. Technology has increased an athlete’s prowess simply because it magnifies performance-related actions and events that have been previously unseen.
For example, cyclists can wear heads-up display (HUD) glasses that flawlessly deliver heartrate, speed, incline and other relevant cycling information. Metrics such as these can help the cyclist focus and improve because they can make adjustments mid ride.
Swimmers and divers participate in an extremely technical sport and have adapted sensors into their practices as well. When swimming or diving, the sensors measure more than the usual time and effort metrics. They map movements like rotational speed, dive angle, leg movement and hydrodynamics. Observing movements like this is groundbreaking, and allows trainers to help athletes perfect their movements. They may only shave milliseconds off their performance, but a millisecond in a race can be all the difference.
Applications such as YouTube have also enhanced communication during training. Countless hours of workouts and game plays can be found by anyone and shared just as quickly through YouTube. To bolster education through watching film or discussing plays, athletes and trainers can upload and watch the necessary videos during practice or on their own time.
Communication has been further enhanced by other applications such as My Fitness Pal, a personal digital health, diet and exercise journal that can be accessed on a smartphone or computer. Trainers can keep track of athletes by checking their daily diet via My Fitness Pal, and athletes will have personal accountability to their training. It’s similar to a social media site except that it’s specific to exercise and athletes, coaches and trainers can interact with their input health information.
Perhaps the most important byproduct of technology in sports training is that injuries have been severely reduced and now can be identified much earlier. Tracking performance, perfecting movements and enhancing communication are not only benefits; they actually help create less injury-prone environments.
Training management software can assist coaches and trainers in monitoring all aspects of training: diet, energy, sleep, etc. When coaches and trainers can define individual practice for optimum results, they are preventing fatigue and self-created injuries. Besides outside variables that cannot be accounted for, the future may some day see injury-free athletics.
About Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration Degree
Ohio University’s online MAA program is designed to teach professionals how to manage the many changes in interscholastic sports. The university launched the nation’s first academic program in sports administration in 1966 and continues to be a leader in sports business education.
Ohio University’s online MAA program is housed within the university’s College of Business, underscoring the university’s dedication to providing world-class sports business education.
The program works in collaboration with the National Intercollegiate Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) to prepare graduates for certification and is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). For more information, contact an enrollment advisor at Ohio University.