Technology in Sport and Fitness

Due to how many sports there are and technology involved individually in those I will mainly be talking about rugby and a couple of the most key products used that are and have been helping to change rugby over the past couple of years and technologies that may benefit you at home.

GPS, you always see these stats on the screen telling you far the player ran and the speed he was running etc there are several ways it can be worked out but the main way is through a GPS system.

If you look at the top of the back of a majority of elite level rugby players you'll always see a small pouch sometimes it is filled and sticking out, that is the GPS. This device is unbelievably cool, allowing you to track the athletes HR (heart rate), speed, location, distance ran, impact in collision, it can even tell you when you are back in play from any break / pause e.g. being stuck on the floor at a ruck. Also used in training sessions to see output of players and to see how much effort they're making compared to their team mates. Often there is a lot of pressure on players to perform to extraordinary standards, so this is an easy way to keep the standards high and see who is working more than others.

Smart watches are something we are very familiar with at home but it is not surprising that top flight athletes will be utilizing them too. A few years ago Saracens rugby started to be involved with Garmin, giving their players the vivo watch, it was used both inside and outside the training and was more used to check the sleep and rest of the players. Since there are far more studies now than when the sports first started to boom a lot of research has gone into performance.

Rest and recovery is the biggest concept in sports alongside mental health, think about the beating the body of a professional rugby player takes each week. 7 days a week of some sort of training (active recovery days means that even on days off there most likely will be something no matter how light it is). Being able to see the quality of sleep of your athletes can give you a better insight into their recovery and productivity / mood too. The more rest the better recovery meaning higher outputs of work from the athletes.

The smart gum shield is something a lot of people do not really know about. A couple of years ago you may remember the plaster behind the ears of players? looking at impacts to gain more information on concussions. Well last year a company in wales started to develop a concussion and impact sensing Gum shield, and now the biggest company Opro has joined in too. This is the biggest piece of technology so far involved for player welfare there has been, allowing medical staff to see the full extent of force being put into these players.

In training other than the traditional scrum machines, ruck pads, tackle shields / tubes you have the old tackle suits. With sport becoming a science and training becoming so specific the on field training equipment is becoming increasingly popular. With a padded backpack to help a player get used to contact while jumping for the ball in the air; to smaller tackle suits allowing for greater movement, all the way down to a fully remote control scrum machine! Equipment is becoming a huge tool and can, at times, be an unfair advantage to teams and players that can afford these. The increase in products and equipment have allowed the training to be a lot more Rugby specific while maintaining the safety of the players. These "collision king" machines that allow player to hit a heavy padded tackle tube attached to a weighted frame, specific clear-out pads and shields and even gym matts at training to help keep injuries minimum when practicing a dive to score a try are allowing the game to become that much more intense and exciting.

Outside of sport there are several tools being used by some S&C coaches but also some equipment you at home may benefit from! It all depends on your ability and also knowledge too, but here is a mini list for those that want to have a more professional base.

Laser gates are so 2 sets of 2 poles that you place at a set distance. you place 1 set at the start point and the other set at the end point. The is a IR line between the poles which is broken when a player moves through it. At this point it times how long it takes for the player to break the other sets IR line. In turn giving you a more precise time for the distance, acceleration and of course speed.

A velocity reader is something like PUSH, you can keep it on a person, bar or object the person is using to workout. You can tell the system how heavy the weight is, and in turn the product tells you how fast the reps are, the velocity and power for each rep and set and can also help in programming as it can pick up variances between the 1st and last rep. Helping the coach to see your maximum outputs, fatigue level and to help set your programming for the future.

The Myzone HR band is a good tool for anyone to have who is keen on fitness and sport. Connects to your phone to give you real time HR data and allows you to see how hard you were working during your workout, calories burnt, how many minutes you spent in different HR zones, how long you were exercising etc. Can be used in all sorts of training and is extremely accurate and affordable!

Fat calipers are used by several professionals but are a good tool to have at home. Easy to use, not much preparation needed and there are so many tutorials online to learn what to do. They allow you to have a relatively accurate look at how much fat your body has. Athletes tend to have a lower BF% than normal, Fat is "wasted" weight to athletes, the leaner they are means that they are moving less weight, and the weight they're moving is practical. Athletes tend to have their body checked throughout the season and mainly around holiday periods to make sure they're fit for training when they return. It is also a good indicator to see if they need more fitness work etc. Some players have been known to have their BF tested 5-6 days a week! But a rule of thumb is to focus on losing BF not weight, often people rely to heavily on a weighing scale, but we should be more focused on dropping BF. (Obviously some athletes need that weight such as Sumo wrestlers)

Foam rollers, massage balls and even massage guns are something I believe every house should have! It is so helpful for muscle soreness and recovery. We always see them in the gym and even pitch side on TV, when used properly I would say they are the most underrated tool!

So my last part of this mini list may sound very stupid, but it is important to note it. A simple notepad and pen or at least a notepad on your phone / laptop.

Always overlooked the simple notepad and pen is hardly used today, with all of the advances in technology it is easy to understand why. However no matter how you keep notes, it is important that athletes, sport professionals or beginners to the life of fitness and sport keep notes, document their progress and keep a track of new goals!

For me technology is like food supplements, we should not fully rely on them. Using all the technology in the world will not make you a better athlete, hard work does. Technology is a tool to help improve!

What technology do you use? What technology do you think should make the mini list above?


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