Today, to become an elite athlete, you have to be willing to go beyond talent and sacrifice. Nowadays, science and technology play a very significant role in training and preparation for tournaments and events.
So, how exactly does new generations of wearables improve training and performance? Looking back at the recent 2016 Olympics in Brazil, the director of innovation for US Olympic committee, Zok Mounir was quoted:
We are very, very, very fast approaching the superhero stage.
-Mounir Zok, US Olympic Committee
Much like the CES Expo held every January in Las Vegas to debate the latest gadgets and technology, the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, CA, allows developers of wearable gadgets to unveil the latest techware and Proto-types, while also debating the future of the superhero/bionic technology.
Zok predicts that an athletes choice in wearables will soon be as important to the elite athlete as their choice in specialty clothing and shoes.
Some specific technology that was used for training purposes by divers and gymnasts, track their performance using real time metrics, while cyclists used glasses that displayed; stride, heart rate and speed, directly into the lens of their glasses. Paralympic teams partnered up with the famous car innovator BMW, who developed a specialized wheelchair that tracks armstrokes and distance traveled.
Over the years, technology has slowly found itself being integrated into Olympic, professional and College athletic training, focusing on multiple areas including: nutrition, hydration, recovery, physiology and real-time performance mapping. Sports training is no longer limited to the field, science and engineering can now bring the athlete to a lab, decreasing time spent measuring and monitoring performance. Newer technology goes further than the field or the lab, allowing the athlete to organize and prepare in the lab setting, but easily gear-up and take their training to the more natural environment, directly to the pool, track, or even mountainside. This also allows a coach or trainer, to monitor side by side from a computer device, giving instant feedback, allowing the athlete to make immediate adjustments to their training.
Being able to monitor the athletes specific metrics, could possibly decrease the learning time, shaving valuable seconds of their time, while also increasing performance.
While Olympians have always been seen as the worlds elite athlete, wearable technology has not limited itself to just a Olympic training, now professional athletes also have found wearable technology to assist in their increased performance.
Recently, the NFL began placing sensors under the shoulder pads of football players, allowing coaches and trainers to monitor distance ran, and the intensity of plays involving a specific player. This type of monitoring can allow coaches to maximize performance, while not overworking the athlete, helping to prevent exhaustion and potential, avoidable injuries.
So what does any of this means for the weekend warrior or novice athlete? Elite athlete training allows for a very specialized testing of new technology, and with demand for new tech, the novice athlete would eventually be able to train like an Olympian.
I think it is safe to compare the elite athlete to the proverbial guinea pig. They train hard, find the sponsorships, work with developers to maximize output, while developing ways to also lower cost and increase demand. Sports are no longer just for the worlds elite athlete.
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