In Motion

Sport-Science: Fundamentals First

Posted by Bennet Watson

Oct 26, 2015 1:30:00 PM

Slow and steady still wins the race

motion capture

The temptation to dive into sports-technology is growing every day.  More and more companies are popping up with the next revolutionary product - the next super-tool for coaches, all with vague specs and very little information about the actual technology. Is any of this helpful? Maybe. Is it accurate? Who knows?  The bottom line is that a brand-new industry has sprung up over the past ten years that's tasked with trying to sell solutions that don't solve any problems.  This is what happens when marketing is driving innovation.  If you want to implement a modern training and coaching approach that utilizes all available resources - great! Just remember, there are right ways and wrong ways to everything.  Technology can be a huge help - especially with measurements and athlete tracking. When I say tracking - I mean taking regular measurements over time to ensure that training and the daily work of the athlete isn't hurting the them. 

Start Simple.   

force plates jumpingA set of forceplates designed specifically for measuring jumping - a proven method for accurate and objective athlete measurement

If you want data on your athletes (regardless of the level of play) - for performance gains, for injury reduction, for building a database of performance metrics - good!  That's where everyone is heading, it seems.  And with good reason, of course; properly applied data-analysis of your athletes can be a major factor in improving return-to-sport protocols, setting performance goals and breaking them, and just having an overall more scientific approach to training and treatment.  But where are you supposed to start?  GPS Tracking? Video tracking? 3D motion analysis? There's a ton of (mis)information out there - I mentioned this briefly in my last post on this topic. 

Patience Pays.

jumping analysis software

My advice is simple.  Start with what is proven.  Get educated on biomechanics - read everything that you can.  And while you're doing that, notice that there aren't many peer-reviewed studies using some of the cooler products you may be using, or thinking of using.  There are some awesome looking solutions out there that make some pretty lofty claims about injury reduction.  Don't believe the hype.  None of these systems will immediately reduce your injury rates.  But starting a program of regular, objective data-collection WILL yield results over time.  This is about the long-haul - and improving your understanding of the information you are collecting.  After months of slowly integrating the simple concept of daily monitoring and moving towards a fully technology-assisted approach to training and monitoring - you will start seeing patterns well before they become problems.  This does not happen right away.  It can be frustrating - but have hope!  Beginning the journey to the 21st century of athlete measurement and analysis is the right decision - just remember that you don't have to go with what "everyone else" has - investing your organization's money in the new fad tools might seem like the safe move, but often (and we hear this all of the time), it backfires. When tech is improperly applied, or the wrong technology is brought in and collects dust, people sour on the concept of using technology entirely.  It's almost unavoidable. 

So start with what is proven - biomechanics is a science, not a product. There is no system or device or wearable that will change everything.  With proper implementation, the integrated approach can help any coach or trainer, period. 


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The zFlo blog is maintained by our team in hopes of providing some insight into the motion-analysis industry. We work with a large number of companies and have over 10 years of experience working with video and optical motion capture technology - this is where we do our best to explain some of the more important aspects of how this technology can be used.