Use of Technology in Team Sports

During my time at Whitecaps FC we tested or employed a variety of technologies to monitor, track and train the players. We used ultrasound for body composition, a self-made Athlete Monitoring System (AMS), a commercial database software that I built my own monitoring and readiness system on top of, Polar T2 heart rate monitoring, Adidas MiCoach Elite GPS / Accelerometry / Heart Rate monitoring. We also had limited testing of finger tap tests, HRV, resting heart rate monitors and sleep monitoring systems. In testing, researching and using these system as well as inquiring about what others use, it became clear that even in the best case scenarios we were just starting to make use of and implement technologies in a meaningful and useful way. In many cases, I found it could be alluring to collect data for the sake of data even if there was no applicable use. I really tried to minimize wasting time and effort on anything that couldn’t be impactful on team or player performance. Unfortunately, this didn’t come without trial and error and I’ve noticed that many are in scenarios where they use technology (either because they’re forced or because they don’t know any better) to “keep up with the Jones’s” even if it isn’t meaningful or applicable.  The abstract below seems to hint at several of these issues as well as other more logistical ones (indoor monitoring, cost, etc).

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J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Nov 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Use of Integrated Technology in Team Sports: A Review of Opportunities, Challenges, and Future Directions for Athletes.

Dellaserra CL, Gao Y, Ransdell L.

 Abstract

Integrated technology (IT), which includes accelerometers, global positioning systems (GPS), and heart rate monitors, has been used frequently in public health. More recently, IT data have been used in sports settings to assess training and performance demands. However, the impact of IT in sport settings has yet to be evaluated, particularly in field-based team sports. This narrative qualitative review provides an overview of IT’s emerging impact in sports settings. Twenty electronic databases (e.g. Medline, SPORTdiscus, ScienceDirect), print publications (e.g. Signal Processing Magazine, Catapult Innovations news releases), and internet resources were searched using different combinations of keywords accelerometers, HR monitors, GPS, sport training, and field-based sports for relevant articles published from 1990 to present. A total of 114 publications were identified, and 39 that examined a field-based team sport using a form of IT were analyzed. Articles chosen for analysis examined a field-based team sport using a form of IT. The uses of IT can be divided into four categories: (a) quantifying movement patterns (n=22), (b) assessing differences between demands of training and competition (n=12), (c) measuring physiological and metabolic responses (n=16) and (d) determining a valid definition for velocity and a sprint effort (n=8). The majority of studies used elite adult male athlete participants, and analyzed the sports of Australian Rules football, field hockey, cricket, and soccer, with sample sizes between 5-20 participants. IT’s limitations in a sport setting include scalability issues, cost, and the inability to receive signals within indoor environments. IT can contribute to significant improvements in the preparation, training, and recovery aspects of field-based team sports. Future research should focus on utilizing IT with female athlete populations and developing resources to use IT indoors to further enhance individual and team performances.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.