Smart Technology: Breakfast of Champions for Team Performance

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By: Esther Shein|

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Fitness trackers and smart watches are becoming ubiquitous as people take more interest in measuring their workout activity, so it was only a matter of time before professional sports leagues took notice of smart technology to evaluate team performance.

Between the NFL, the NBA, the MLB and the NHL, it’s hard to resist smart technology as it becomes more accurate. As a result, professional teams are increasing their use of sensors and analytics to collect data and gain insights on players.

How Smart Technologies Improve Team Performance

Organizations like Major League Soccer, for example, use smart soccer jerseys embedded with sensors to analyze how each player is performing so coaches can maximize the effectiveness of their training. All of this is done in real time, notes Social Media Today.

Even the 2014 Winter Olympics games in Sochi saw a wide variety of smart technologies geared at improving athletes’ performance as individuals and as part of a team. In sports like bobsledding, sensors were installed on the sleds to wirelessly transmit data feeds for each race, according to SportTechie. Competitors were able to view the recorded data with enough time to help them plan out their next run.

Tracking Player Health

Other than providing insights into individual and team performance, smart technology is used to collect data to optimize workout plans, track athletes’ health and help prevent injuries. Tools like wearable microchips embedded in clothing can monitor muscle fibers, heart rates, blood flow and small movement patterns, according to Ohio University.

This information can be especially useful by alerting athletes when they may be pushing themselves too hard when working out. Early alerts can also reduce the number and severity of injuries. Some sensors connect to the body and can even determine if an athlete is getting quality sleep, given the intensity of their training. With improved health, athletes can ultimately continue playing the game a lot longer than they would otherwise.

Traumatic brain injuries have received a lot of attention in recent years, and consequently, smart helmets are now widely used in high-impact sports like football and hockey. Sensors inside the helmets can measure the force and location of impact, reports Spark IEEE, then send an alert about possible concussions to coaches on the sidelines via a mobile app. By sending these alerts, smart helmets can get players the medical attention they need more quickly.

Leveling the Playing Field With Analytics

Almost every major professional team now has analytics staff to track and interpret player behavior both on and off the field. The information has proven invaluable in helping officials gauge team performance by honing in on field dynamics, a player’s strengths and even an opponent’s weaknesses, according to SportTechie.

In the case of the Baltimore Ravens, this program’s analytics department analyzes information to make decisions on everything from personnel to game play. Coach Jim Harbaugh has openly discussed game-time decisions he’s made and assessments of the potential risks versus probable outcomes — all based on data.

It’s not just current roster players that are studied against these available metrics. The Toronto Raptors are gaining a competitive advantage by also looking at NBA prospects when evaluating individual player and his/her team. In the fast-paced sports world, coaches and managers are faced with making very time-sensitive decisions. The smart technology used by the Raptors is raising the bar by automating what has long been a manual, time-consuming process.

Platforms are becoming widely available to help coaches and other sports personnel gain visibility into comprehensive data on individual players and team performance. Smart technology of this caliber is proving so invaluable in team sports, in fact, that it is the rule more often than the exception.

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About The Author

Esther Shein

Freelance Writer

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, business and education. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Inc., Computerworld, NetworkComputing, InformationWeek, BYTE, CIO, CMO.com and The Boston Globe. She has written thought leadership whitepapers, customer case studies and marketing materials in addition to news and feature articles. Prior to going freelance she was the editor-in-chief of Datamation, an online enterprise technology magazine. She was also a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week) and worked at The Associated Press.

Articles by Esther Shein
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