We know them as sports trackers, while some might call them wearable tech, but whatever name they go by, it’s certain that this innovative technology is changing the face of sports. Now, before we go any further, for the non-sports fans out there, let’s just explain what wearable technology is and what it’s got to do with sports.
What is wearable tech?
Wearable technology is the use of smart electronic devices which are placed within clothing or that can be worn on the body. They can even be implanted in the body, but for the most part, they are accessories that we wear. They include smart glasses, health monitors, and fitness trackers and have any number of incredible world-changing uses.
If you have ever watched a behind the scenes video of a professional sports team at their training ground, you will have noticed that most of the players wear what can only be described as a sports bra of sorts.
This is, in fact, a sports tracker that allows the player to track data from the training sessions. This data can then be used to gain insights into the areas where a player needs to improve their performance. It’s extremely useful data and gives both the coaching staff and the athlete a verifiable data point that they can use as a marker in the athlete’s training regimen.
Liverpool, who are the current favourites for the Premier League title, are one such team that has adopted a tech approach to their training analytics. They use wearable tech in all of their training sessions and provide feedback to the players on their performance in each session. And as the current champions of Europe, it’s obviously had a positive effect on their results.
But it’s not just in terms of performance levels that sports trackers can help professional athletes. When injury strikes and an athlete starts their recovery program, being able to accurately monitor training sessions ensures that they won’t overdo it and risk aggravating their injury.
There’s also an argument that tracking an athlete’s performance during a game or training sessions allows for better recovery. The idea behind this is that athlete’s may expend more energy during one session than they do in another. The more intense the training or match-play, the more recovery time required to avoid fatigue-based injuries.
The typical sports tracker worn by clubs like Liverpool is also known as a compression shirt. These can measure six vital points of data, including heart rate, breathing rate, and heart rate variability. These measurements can then, in turn, help to determine a variety of other non-vital, but highly valuable metrics such as jump height and speed.
As you can imagine, professional athletes are often in absolute peak physical condition, but despite this there has been an alarming rise in the number of deaths on the sports field. With considerable pressure to perform at peak levels at all times, athletes are pushing their bodies beyond the limitations of what is humanly possible. And all too often this has a negative impact on their overall health. Yes, they may be achieving short-term results, much to the pleasure of their fans and sponsors, but it’s impossible to keep up such levels of unsustainable performance without affecting your health.
Sports trackers allow the medical department at professional clubs (and even amateur ones) to quickly identify the warning signs that an athlete may be overextending themselves. Shortness of breath, irregular heart rate patterns, or significant and unexpected drops in performance levels could all be indicators of a serious health issue. The ability to recognize and then take preemptive measures to protect the safety of the athlete is invaluable. After all, sports should never be a matter of life and death.
Are they worth the investment?
For athletes who push themselves to the very limits of their physical abilities, a sports tracker is an essential piece of kit. Not just for monitoring performance levels but more for the potential to quickly identify possible health issues.
This makes them an absolute must for professional teams and individuals. That’s why they are seen so often in open training sessions. For professional clubs and teams, an athlete is an investment and if a relatively inexpensive compression shirt offers the potential to protect that investment then it really is a no-brainer.
Add to that the potential for improved training regimes with fitter athletes that then go on to achieve better results, then there really is only one question left to ask. Are there any professional athletes who aren’t using them right now?