Jul 6, 2015Tracking Movements and Improvements
Strength and conditioning coaches often have to figure out how to integrate new technologies with tried and true practices. Technology can give unprecedented information about athletes’ progress, but how can it help enhance their progress? How can new technologies help teams get ahead?
“We’ve gotten to the point where you really can’t outwork anybody, so to speak, because the work level is maxed out,” Paul Longo, Director of Strength and Conditioning at University of Notre Dame, told SI.com. “Any more, you get into that area of over-working, injuries, those types of things. You have to work smarter is basically what it comes down to.”
Here’s where technology can help, by providing athletes and coaches with instant feedback about the quality and efficacy of workouts, and about the overall health of the athlete. According to SI.com, Longo’s new tech toy is a Basis Tracker, a watch that can track an athlete’s sleep, both quality and quantity, as well as the athlete’s heart rate, and other data that can help inform coaches’ training and game decisions for that individual.
Other increasingly popular technologies include EliteForm, a program that tracks how fast athletes lift the bar and the watts produced, which deemphasizes how much weight an athlete can lift and puts more focus on strength and speed–the kind needed during games. Coaches use GPS units to measure the intensity of workouts as well and to track each’s athlete’s efforts. The information gathered with these technologies can be used to prevent injury, plan and gauge training regimens, and to infuse practice with incentives and competition.
Technology can also allow teams to train muscles not typically talked about in weight rooms. Dynavision uses a light board to train the eye to react faster and to expand peripheral vision.
But even with all the new gadgets, many strength and conditioning coaches say that you can’t abandon traditional methods. Jay Hooten, Director of Football Performance at Northwestern University, still has his team do staples such as wall sits, push sleds, and play tug-of-war.
“I’ve gone the science route for a couple years,” Hooten told SI.com. “It’s just finding a way to balance it as a strength coach. You can use smart science and smart periodization and be smart about what you’re doing. But at the same time, you can still put the guys under stress and duress.”
Ivan Lewis, Head Strength Coach at the University of Southern California, agrees.
“Your great players have that mindset—they’re going to push themselves through these limits,” he said. “They might be on that teetering edge of how much is too much. At some point, they’re all going to be there. I guess [technology] is just another tool to help us manage that. But the reality is, yeah, we’re going to push them.”