As almost any athlete will tell you, it's easy to begin a new fitness routine or adopt a new workout technique. What's difficult is actually reaching the goals you set and taking your performance to the next level. Sports training is a physically and mentally demanding task filled with potential pitfalls and many moments of frustration. But what if new technology could make the effort easier? The key may be to make sports training smarter -- technologically smarter, anyway. The new wave of sports training is already upon us, and it involves the use of smart technology not unlike that found in your average smartphone. What began as a major leap forward among professional athletes and organizations is slowly working its way to the mainstream, and sports training as we know it may never be the same.
Using technology to grade and perfect an athlete's performance is certainly nothing new, but smart technology has improved to the point where measuring that performance has become much more refined, accurate, and workable. Think about what you're wearing while shooting hoops on the basketball court or jogging on the track. Now imagine having sensors attached to you that can measure how fast your heart is pumping, how much you're sweating, and how fast you're running. This technology isn't just the realm of science fiction -- rather it has been in use for years as smart clothing (or textile tech). Organizations like Major League Soccer have used smart soccer jerseys since 2013. The jerseys have sensors which collect data on each player, data that can be broken down to better analyze how each player is performing, thus maximizing the effectiveness of their training, all done in real time.
This technology can not only help teams evaluate their players but aid athletes in gauging how their own training is going as well. In essence, the smartphone has become like a coach by connecting with the sensors and become a central hub where athletes can receive reports about how they're doing. This can be especially useful by alerting athletes when they may be pushing themselves too fall during the training process. Early alerts can cut down on the number and severity of injuries, which again can help players as they work hard to get to the next level. Some sensors that connect to the body can even determine if an athlete is getting quality sleep. With improved health, athletes can stay in the game a lot longer than they would otherwise. Sports organizations will have to address network security, however, especially considering how sensitive some of the collected information may be to the athlete's privacy.
Smart technology is also becoming part of the sports equipment athletes are using. Whether shooting a basketball, swinging a golf club, or kicking a soccer ball, athletes can better determine if their technique is giving them the highest chance of success. The sensors inside these pieces of equipment, much like those found in smart clothing, collect information on each kick, shot, or swing. That data can be sent to the athlete's smartphone (usually through an accompanying app) where they are given a picture of how well they did and the areas they need to improve in. A basketball with sensors, for example, may measure the backspin of the ball and tell the athlete if there's enough of it to maximize the potential for making a shot from a certain distance away. As of now the sensor-embedded equipment isn't used in any professional games, but some experts believe that could happen in the near future.
Sports training aided by smart technology has been limited to the professional ranks for years, but it's now spreading to the average fitness enthusiast with a bit of money to spend. Smart tennis rackets, for example, are now widely available, but they cost up to $400 a piece. Smart clothing and other smart equipment are also on the market, so athletes can take advantage of what the professionals use to achieve a new level of excellence. Athletes can even measure their progress against other athletes around the world, all while seeing if their skills stack up to the best.
There's little question that the future of sports training lies in smart technology. As the technology improves, prices will come down, allowing for even more people to use it to further their own athletic progress. Think of the current generation of fitness wearables, only more advanced, more streamlined, and with more capabilities. It truly is an exciting time to be in sports whether professionally or as an amateur. With smart technology, the next level is closer than even before.