Better Testing

November 3, 2017

For most student-athletes, the start of their season involves being issued gear, learning the practice schedule and trying to balance academic and athletic commitments.

At Towson, student-athletes also undergo comprehensive physiological and performance assessments that are part of the Towson Research Academy for Collaborative Sport Science (TRACS), a collaboration between the Departments of Athletics and Kinesiology.

The mission of TRACS is to engage in interdisciplinary research and collaboration aimed at improving all aspects of performance related to sport, fitness, health and wellness. TRACS evolved from a study being led by Devon Dobrosielski from the kinesiology department and Nathan Wilder, associate athletic director for sport medicine and performance that was designed to examine the prevalence of sleep apnea among collegiate football players.

Currently, the TRACS program provides state-of-the-art human performance testing for all student-athletes. These tests include a DXA body composition assessment and biomechanical assessment using PhysiMax, a marker-less motion capture system that uses an Xbox Kinect camera to analyze movement in real-time. The movement quality report generated identifies biomechanical deficiencies and imbalances that could predispose an athlete to increase risked of injury and decreased performance. The sports performance team, consisting of a dietician, sports medicine staff and strength and conditioning coaches, takes these pieces of information and develops a comprehensive plan to optimize the student-athlete's performance.

Another focus of TRACS has been examining the relationship between sleep and athletic performance. A pilot program has been developed whereby sleep bands are being worn by members of the Tiger football team. The bands are collected every 10-14 days and once the data is downloaded, that information is provided to the team and sports performance staff. The amount of sleep a student-athlete gets can affect his or her performance on the field and the sleep band report helps to identify deficiencies in sleep.

As a result of the TRACS initiative, space in the Towson Center has now been developed into a dedicated Sports Performance Lab. The ultimate goal for TRACS is to translate discoveries made in the lab into practical applications that will allow the sports performance team to build stronger, healthier and more competitive student athletes.  

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