Sports performance technology is a hot topic in the world of athletics.
And for good reason.
The right tech can have a massive impact on an athlete's ability to perform and improve over time. It allows athletes to replicate different situations they might face during competition, become more informed about their recovery, and take a data-driven approach when training.
What’s even more exciting is that we're just scratching the surface on what can be done.
In this post, we take a look at some of the most exciting sports performance technology out there right now, and the benefits they bring.
Virtual reality has revolutionized the way that people consume media. What once was a dream of science fiction is now an accessible reality. While VR has gained a lot of traction in the video game industry, it has become a very powerful tool in the world of sports performance.
VR headsets are designed to provide users with an immersive experience. Specialty lenses and high-resolution screens put players right in the middle of the action. Thanks to built-in sensors that track head movements, training with VR feels more real than ever.
One sport that benefits from virtual reality is football. Many NFL teams have started implementing VR into training as a way to sharpen players' mental response to events that happen on the field.
In an instant, quarterbacks must analyze the game and make a decision that provides positive results. Traditionally, honing those necessary mental skills require thousands of hours of training on the practice field. While those old methods are effective, they come with their risks.
Every time a quarterback takes a snap, there's a chance that injuries could occur. This is especially true if the practice session involves body contact drills. With a VR headset, those risks are eliminated.
Simulated training sessions give you the opportunity to focus on the mental aspects of the game without having to worry about the physical effects. Of course, physical training still plays an important role. But, VR training can make the most out of an athlete's time and give them the tools to complete thousands of hours of training without lifting a finger.
Another great perk of VR is the availability of the training. The problem with physical training is that second- or third-string quarterbacks don't get the same amount of field time as the first-string athlete. This can prove to be a problem if the first-string quarterback suffers an unexpected injury and is unable to play.
With virtual reality, all quarterbacks can stay on top of their game. VR requires fewer resources too, which means there's no need to gather other players or spend time on the field. This means they can conveniently get in extra reps whenever they want.
Wearable technology offers a detailed glimpse of how an athlete's body is functioning. As the name would suggest, this sports performance technology is designed to be worn by players on or off the playing field. Depending on the type of gear that's used, coaches and fitness experts can use this to gather several different types of data.
The great thing about wearable technology is that it doesn't get in the way. Advancements in technology have made it possible for wearables to be as small and compact as a watch. Some teams even implement the gear into vests and other uniform items.
Coaches can use the information they gather in many different ways. Typically, that data is pushed to a laptop or mobile device, giving experts crucial figures in real-time. As a result, wearables can be used during training sessions.
The technology can monitor everything from heart rate to the load on specific muscle groups. Analyzing this data as athletes play offers a slew of benefits on its own. First, coaches are able to precisely measure performance and see what areas need improvement.
Secondly, data from multiple training sessions can be compared to see how techniques have changed over time. Finally, that information can be used to spot signs of fatigue and analyze the risks of injury. Some teams are even embedding RFID tags into uniforms to see when players are at the brink of experiencing an injury due to overworked muscles.
Ultimately, wearables are one of the most effective training tools available. The sheer amount of information that these gadgets provide is staggering and they’re getting more affordable each and every year. Having the ability to analyze even the smallest detail of an athlete's body makes it easier than ever to help players reach their full potential.
Any seasoned athlete will tell you that sleep is an important part of staying in peak physical conditions. Your muscles need time to recover after a game or an intense training session. A lack of sleep can easily lead to an injury.
Furthermore, athletes experience dips in cognitive function due to a lack of sleep. Several studies have shown that your response times, agility, and overall skill is decreased when you’re tired.
Wearable sports performance technology has done a lot to help players develop and maintain healthy sleep habits. Small wearable devices, such as watches or wristbands, are fully capable of determining when people reach certain sleep stages. This is often done by measuring your heart rate and keeping track of your movements.
Data analytics can then be used to see how sleep is affecting your body. Many teams in the NFL, NBA, and other sports leagues utilize sleep tracking devices to fine-tune an athlete's schedule. Some take things a step further by creating optimal sleep conditions that can help athletes feel refreshed and ready to play no matter where they might be.
Sports aren't just about your physical capabilities. Mental prowess can have a huge impact on your technique and overall skill as well. Keeping your mind in tip-top shape is just as important as continually training your muscles.
Vision training is a newer form of sports performance technology that's starting to become more mainstream among professional athletes. Essentially, the goal of vision training is to improve your reflexes, cognitive function, and visual accuracy. While these mental benefits can certainly pay off in the real world as well, they're particularly useful in sports like football, basketball, hockey, and more.
The most effective form of this training involves recording response times to a visual stimulant. For example, coaches may use tablets with high-resolution graphics or interactive light panels. After the visuals are displayed, you must quickly tap or physically respond to it. It may not seem like much, but the simple test says a lot about an athlete's capabilities on the field.
To be successful in any sport, you must be able to quickly respond to the events you see. During the training sessions, various markers are recorded. Not only does it show how long it took you to respond, but it may also show how accurate your physical response was.
Sports teams can benefit greatly from adopting forms of vision sports performance technology into their regime. Continual training can lead to a significant improvement over time, which will translate well onto the field. Plus, the data collected can benchmark and improve upon and athlete's capabilities in ways they never knew they had.
Vision training can also be used to support a player's recovery after an injury. Head injuries, such as concussions, affect people in more ways than you would think. While vision training alone isn't going to restore someone's mental abilities completely, the data collected may be used to optimize recovery efforts and find other efficient techniques.
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Injuries are far too common in the sports world. You'd be hard-pressed to find a professional athlete that hasn't experienced some kind of injury during their career. In the past, injuries were dealt with in an old-fashioned way. Today, improvements to technology in sports training have made it possible to significantly speed up recovery times.
There are several ways that athletic training technology has improved sports medicine. As we mentioned earlier, wearables are capable of gathering data about muscle output. Not only does it help on the field, but this information can be used strategically during the recovery phase as well.
Rehabilitation is a key part of recovering after an injury. Usually, it involves targeted exercises that are designed to strengthen the injured muscle and regain strength. Wearables can provide analytical data about how those muscles are performing. Doctors can then modify the rehabilitation plan to maximize results.
Other forms of technology that can help with recovery include cryotherapy, oxygen therapy, and compression therapy.
Cryotherapy has been used for several decades. However, the technology used has evolved quite a bit in recent years. Instead of dunking yourself in an ice bath, you can spend a few minutes in a chamber that exposes your body to liquid nitrogen vapor. These machines can reach temperatures as low as -256 degrees Fahrenheit!
When your body is exposed to extreme cold, it goes into protection mode. Blood starts to flow towards your core to preserve your body temperature. This process improves circulation and ensures that hormones and healthy blood cells have a chance to permeate your muscles.
Oxygen therapy is a bit different. It relies on pure oxygen to limit swelling, regenerate damaged tissue, and alleviate pain. Basically, the process involves relaxing in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber and breathing in pure oxygen.
There are some risks involved with oxygen therapy. However, modern techniques have helped to reduce those risks by quite a bit. The technology used in today's hyperbaric oxygen chambers provides greater control and more safety.
Finally, we have compression therapy. This form of treatment is great for alleviating muscle pain, and it’s being embraced by professional athletes everywhere. Advanced equipment is used to provide simulated massages. The equipment can come in the form of wearable sleeves, jackets, and more.
As you wear the device, it automatically conforms to your body. Then, it compresses and pulses the muscles. This helps to mobilize the lymphatic fluids in your muscles for a speedy recovery.
Having the ability to track an athlete's movements in real-time has completely changed the way some coaches observe technique. Instead of having to rely strictly on visual cues, hard data is used.
This sports performance technology can work alongside wearable devices or accessories that are attached to sports gear. A computer acts as the brains of the operations. It uses the information gathered from those wearables to capture the motions of the player as it's happening.
From there, coaches can break down the movements frame by frame. They can see every detail and analyze how the body responds. This has a few benefits.
The first is that coaches can see where players need to improve. Using complex mathematical algorithms, it's possible to see how a player's movements affect their overall agility and performance.
The second benefit is that you're able to spot potential issues before they happen. Everyone's body reacts differently to training. What works for one athlete may be wreaking havoc on the body of another. Depending on the particular issue, you may be able to spot the early signs of muscle issues.
Analyzing that data can show you whether a technique is causing excessive fatigue or muscle strain. This can help to prevent serious injuries and significant downtime.
Sports performance technology is incredibly valuable when it comes to keeping athletes safe and improving output during competition.
It’s no wonder that athletes, coaches, gym owners, and athletic trainers are all starting to use tech from this list. Soon, anyone who isn’t will be left behind.
If you’re looking to gain an advantage as an athlete or provide better results for your clients, take a moment to learn about Reflexion. It provides groundbreaking cognitive training in a simple, portable, and easy to use package.
Reflexion is not intended to diagnose, treat, or mitigate any disease or condition. It is not intended for use in treating concussions and other brain injuries and has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such uses.