Tech on the Turf – A Game Changer

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This coming Saturday the NFL will host its third annual 1st & Future Pitch Competition.  Similar to Shark Tank, sports analytics driven startups will present their companies to NFL reps for a chance to win funding for their ventures. Many teams have already started investing in these companies, tech yea!

This new technology used in the NFL is literally a game changer. Data is being collected on movement, biomechanics, strength, recovery and more. The NFL is investing in these tech startups, that include some of the technologies described below, to improve the safety and the game for everyone involved.

MOVEMENT:  Companies like Zebra Technologies have developed radio frequency identification (RFID ) tags that are worn by every player in the NFL.  The technology is inserted into the shoulder pads of players and receivers placed around the stadium triangulate the position of the tags.  The tags track the location, speed, and acceleration of every player. This provides us with sweet stats, like that Leonard Fournette, Jaguars running back, runs 22mph in games.  RFID tags have recently been added to NFL footballs as well. Fortunately for the New England Patriots, this technology does not track air pressure in the balls.

BIOMECHANICS:  How many seasons does good ol’ Tom Brady have left in him?  With data from companies like Motus Global, we might be able to calculate when his arm might take that final time out.  Motus Global developed an arm sleeve device that calculate the workload in a quarterback’s throwing arm.  There are similar devices that are placed on a runner’s legs to measure gait and hip movement.  These stats are vital to determining the workload imposed on the players body and can alleviate stresses that lead to potential injury.

STRENGTH:  Athletes spend hours in the weight room to increase their strength, and technology is advancing there as well.  Several NFL teams use systems that determine a player’s force using a measuring plate on the ground. Other companies are using accelerometers to track the speed of reps. There is also a clothing line, recently launched by Athos, that measures the activity and power of individual muscles by recording data gathered on the skin. Athletes are getting stronger, and so is the technology used to assist them.

RECOVERY:  Fatigue is the number one factor in injury risk. WHOOP, a wearable technology company whose wristband is designed to monitor both the strain of workouts and how recovered each player is after resting or sleeping, recently signed a contract with the NFL Players Association.  The WHOOP wristband records heart rate, motion, skin conductivity, and ambient temperature data.  Under Armour has developed similar technologies in their “Recorded Equipment” running shoe. The idea behind this technology is to use the data to avoid overtraining and reduce injury.

Source:  Tom Taylor:

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