In the world of today’s top athletes, preparing for major competitions and global sporting events is an ongoing process to keep their competitive edge razor sharp. That’s where the intersection of sports and technology is creating fascinating new opportunities for athletes and innovators alike. As the current capabilities of sports tech continue to push far beyond the boundaries of what we once believed possible, coaches and athletes are turning to innovative new ways to enhance their training regimens.
Here’s a look at some of the most interesting new training technology in sports and how it’s used to help athletes excel in their discipline of choice.
Brain Training to Enhance Workouts
Training the body is most often the first consideration that comes to mind when aiming to boost athletic prowess, but science is showing the brain can have a powerful impact on the training process, too. Enter Halo Sport: a headphones-like device made by San Francisco-based tech company Halo Neuroscience that boosts strength and skill building while you train normally.
This may sound like it’s pulled straight from the realm of science fiction, but it’s based-on neurotechnology previously used by the U.S. military to enhance training for snipers and aircraft pilots. The Halo Sport works by delivering energy pulses to the brain that stimulate neurons and accelerate the benefits gained from regular training exercise. It’s the among the first athletic training devices of its kind, and the technology has already been adopted by a number of high-profile athletes and Olympians.
Wearable Tech for Tracking Performance
With the rise of wearable sports technology and accessible apps, a lot of focus has shifted towards understanding the way athletes’ bodies work and collecting data to improve their training. Popular tracking technology like the Catapult, for example, is easily worn by athletes during training sessions or even while on-the-field, allowing coaches to capture a tremendous volume of data from individual players. This information is gathered through a combination of accelerometers, GPS and gyroscopic sensors. It’s then parsed down to a single score and can be invaluable for customizing training programs to best fit individual athletes.
Data-driven training programs aren’t the only innovative use for wearable tech, however. Smaller personal devices are offering new ways for athletes to gauge their own progress and help with the task of preparing for competitions. The Speedo Shine 2, for example, is a sleek smartwatch-like fitness device from Misfit that’s geared towards swimmers. This water-resistant gadget interfaces with your smartphone, but also keeps track of swimming laps, monitors sleep cycles, and has a vibrating swim timer.
These are just a few of the many emerging examples of how portable tech accessories and wearable sports tech are putting actionable information into the hands of athletes and coaches.
Digital Training with VR
There’s no denying that physical training is vital for athletes to succeed, but honing reflexes, improving spatial awareness, and building hand-eye coordination is also an integral component of many sporting activities. As such, Virtual Reality presents fascinating opportunities for tech-savvy athletes to practice in a very unique and futuristic way.
The immersive experience of doing “mental reps” through a VR headset is quite different from traditional training exercises, though athletes are finding it helps build other skills valuable to their performance.
VR training is still quite new, though companies like StriVR are working with dozens of pro franchises to bring this high-tech approach to a broad spectrum of sports, from hockey to basketball and beyond. It’s also being used as a tool for recruiting prospective players and building out new fan experiences.
All of these high-tech innovations are having a huge impact in shaping the bright future of athletic training and preparation for epic sports competitions, but what about the minds behind these technologies? Let’s not forget the many programmers, data scientists, software engineers, project leaders, and people in key IT roles that help make this all possible.