With millions upon millions of apps available in the Apple and Google stores, the phrase “there’s probably an app for that” is no longer an exaggeration. Soon, the same may be said for wearable technology.
Back in 2014, Fitbit revolutionized how athletes and health nuts engaged with their health and fitness. The small wristband helped users optimize their routines and track their progress. Today, the latest variations in wearable technology have shrunk in size and tripled in utility.
The most common forms of wearable tech have transformed how major league teams train, recover, and organize their formations. In other words, it unites hard stats with actionable plans. But it’s also transformed the fields around major league sports.
With more stats available, the fan experience changes, too. Data points can help drive a fan’s decision on who to draft in a fantasy league or which team to back in a moneyline. Sites that offer NFL betting odds, for example, offer breakdowns from major sportsbooks and pundits, which incorporate human and machine analysis in order to make picks.
The same goes for fantasy leagues, which rely on the same statistical updates from each regular-season game. With more information available than ever before, it’s hard to believe the industry continues expanding. Let’s take a look at the wearable tech used by leading athletes and, increasingly, the major leagues they participate in.
Recognizing Patterns in Performance
Wearable tech can be broken down by function. The most high-tech pieces are designed to capture information that will help coaches and analysts break down large-scale patterns for each team.
For example, GPS (global positioning systems) have been in use for over a decade. These elastic breastbands have devices inside them, which ping GPS satellites so a player’s movements can be tracked. When each player wears one of these devices, a coach can easily see how their team is moving throughout a practice or game, tracking distance and speed.
However, GPS systems must interact with low-flying satellites, which can lead to faults. LPS (local positioning systems), which use the same breastband technology, have begun to replace GPS. With a local device that tracks player movement and speed, there’s greater accuracy and more data points to work with.
Optimizing Training & Recovery
One key function of GPS and LPS wearable technology is that it provides management with actionable plans that can transform how a team moves in a game. For example, this might mean restricting the defense on an NFL team or switching formations in an NBA team.
From there, major league coaches can tailor practices to create an optimal outcome based on data from wearable tech—and they’ll keep using the tiny devices as they train. At practice, major league pros throughout North America regularly use devices to track inertia and velocity.
Inertia sensors allow players and coaches to track minute measurements related to speed, acceleration, jumping, deceleration, and more. This technology is useful for a variety of purposes, helping recruiters gauge the fitness of a prospect, helping measure a player’s recovery, and tracking a player’s performance, for example.
Velocity-based wearable tech tracks similar data points related to weightlifting, by tracking bar movement rather than acceleration. These devices can also be used for recruitment, recovery, and performance tracking.
Lastly, wearable technology is useful for athletes to track and optimize their own health routines, as well as trainers who work for a franchise. Heart rate monitors are one of the most important ways to monitor a player’s health while training or during a game.
Variations in heart rate can have a variety of implications, including how and when athletes expend their energy. This allows for more tailored training, and can also be used to track player fitness during games, particularly for those with outstanding injuries.
On a more personal level, many leading pros also track their sleeping habits. With many major league teams jet-setting across time zones, creating a sleep routine is a top priority for many athletes.
Wearable sleep tech can help users learn when they’re most likely to sleep well, for how long, and any other mitigating circumstances that may be interfering with their rest, such as sleep apnea.