Technology and Sports: Top Tech Trends to Watch

September 7, 2017

From smartphones to wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches, technology is helping individuals simplify and get the most out of their days. Athletic programs are also capitalizing on the technology capabilities within their training programs. Take a look at the latest sports technology and how athletic programs are utilizing these tools to boost performance and catapult their teams to the front of the pack.

Benefits of Incorporating Technology With Strength Training

First and foremost, it is important to understand why coaches are incorporating technology when training their athletes. Technology and fitness work in harmony and together they have revolutionized the way athletes train today. From virtual reality to monitoring workouts with fitness trackers, these pieces of sports technology allow athletes monitor their behavior and metrics like never before — helping them get the most out of their workouts.

How Far We Have Come in Sports Technology

Sports technology has drastically changed over the years and continues to evolve. Consider how technology in sports has grown from the ‘small’ advancements, like the shot clock in basketball and in-helmet headsets for football players, to more drastic innovations, like virtual reality and GPS training equipment, that can monitor technique and performance for player analysis. All of these technologies have paved the way for the next big sports technology.

Just take a look at all of the work that went into Nike’s attempt to beat the 2-hour marathon mark. Specially designed shoes, GPS and heart-rate tracking, and computer analysis post-workout.  Technology is becoming an ever more apparent part of athletics and athlete’s performance. 

Wearable Tech and Sports

We’ve all seen the explosion of wearable technology in athletics today. Fitbit is now a household name, and what was once a casual workout device is starting to break into the professional and collegiate-level of athletics. 

Simple wearables are becoming more and more diversified. Under Armour is putting tracking tools in their footwear, the MLB is using compression sleeves that track a pitcher’s arm, and the NFL has started to use RFID tracking systems. 

These technologies are providing real-time data to coaches and staff — helping athletes achieve the best performance possible and allowing for valuable feedback to be implemented on an individual basis. 

Tracking Workouts With Velocity Based Training (VBT)

In addition to wearables, another strength training and conditioning trend is velocity based training (VBT). This inventive athletic training tool is being used by athletic programs worldwide to measure their team’s progress.

What Is Velocity Based Training?

To put it into layman’s terms, velocity based training uses velocity as biometric feedback to gauge your weight training on a daily basis. Specifically, the velocity output can dictate how much weight you should be adding or removing when lifting or if you should try out a different movement  altogether. 

This technique is often compared to heart rate training zones in which athletes stick to a specific training zone and obtain the physiological benefits that are associated with that zone. 

The Benefits of the VBT Approach?

Many athletes and collegiate strength coaches utilize VBT over other strength training tools because of the benefits of autoregulation. This means that instead of an athlete sticking to a prescribed rep and set scheme for a month, coaches will instead adjust loads and reps on a daily basis to target specific qualities and to avoid over-training the athletes. 

VBT allows true autoregulation to occur based on the athlete’s motivation level, recovery and specific training ages. 

VBT vs. Percent-Based Training

Another approach is percent-based training (PBT). This method is based on a tested one rep max which establishes plate loading parameters. It can be useful for the athlete because it provides a detailed set and rep scheme. 

While helpful, many athletes find it ultimately impractical due to the time that it can take, poor accuracy and the injury risk associated with it. While PBT has been the standard for periodizing weight training programs for many years, VBT allows more individualization and accommodation to an athlete’s program to ensure continual progress. 

Strength and Conditioning Technology

Alongside VBT, strength training coaches are utilizing other sports technology to improve athletic performance. Various technologies keep athletes engaged both in season, and off, and can be a game changer for performance because of their robust tracking abilities. Popular measurement technologies being used today include:

  • EliteForm: Created to be the next cutting edge sports technology, EliteForm’s Integrated System is a tool for weight rooms that uses real-time feedback and analytical reporting to enhance an athlete's training process and performance.
  • Tendo Units: This sports technology is used to measure the bar movement speed and power output. Tendo Units are portable, making it easy for coaches to utilize the measurement tool around the weight room. 
  • Skulpt: Utilizing both a body scanner and an app, Skulpt measures muscle quality and fat percentage to help trainers tailor their athletes’ workouts based on goals and physique.
  • GymAware: Designed by engineers to take sports technology to the next level, GymAware allows strength and conditioning coaches to track gym performance and measure progress.

Athlete Management Systems

Systems such as TeamBuildr and CoachMeBlus help coaches make their programs more efficient by allowing them to easily coordinate and track their athletes’ progress. Coaches can utilize these systems in their programs to customize workouts, track progress, motivate athletes and send out team announcements.

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