The making of the digital athlete

As sports is evolving and progressing at a terrific pace, athletes using cutting edge technology prudently understand what is happening inside their body during a game.

Technology and sport: Runners during a long-distance road relay. The concept of digital athlete is to create a fool proof system for peak performance and injury prevention through specialised individualised fitness training protocols. Putting an athlete through game situation and understanding the body mechanics under various patterns and its relation to the stress and strain on the muscles and joints can be precisely understood. The data inferred is highly individualistic and moving away from generalised predictions.   -  AFP

When the whole world is moving towards using cutting edge technology not only in Space programme or Military, the idea has now percolated to sports performance, too, at various levels.

Digital shift is the key word in the future of athletes training and peak performance — the way forward in making a dream into reality, like a science fiction movie. Not only data collection of the athletes’ fitness and workload management, now the idea has gone beyond imagination.

For the first time in the world, the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) and its partners have pioneered in creating a cutting edge software and hardware used to create a new paradigm shift in sport science and performance.

The concept of digital athlete is to create a fool proof system for peak performance and injury prevention through specialised individualised fitness training protocols.

This concept is designed involving highly specialised bio-mechanists, film animation specialists, exercise physiologists, sports medicine experts and other technical support systems and staff.

READ: Training domain: sport-specific or athlete-defined?

Specialised cutting edge film scanning technology like MRI, motion capture in 3D axis, highly specialised software etc, are used to replicate the individual’s muscle, joints, bones and the respective body contouring. This technology helps in understanding the stress and strains of the internal tissues and joints on a given condition specific to each sport and skill. Accurate life like model is created through various technical inputs.

The idea is like a bio-passport or an individual thumb impression biometric system. Each athlete’s unique bio print would be a cutting edge information like none other before.

Putting an athlete through game situation and understanding the body mechanics under various patterns and its relation to the stress and strain on the muscles and joints can be precisely understood. The data inferred is highly individualistic and moving away from generalised predictions regarding the performance of injury.

Each athlete reacts differently to the same stimulus and response. The new system helps in understanding the nuances in body dynamics, replicating the game scenario for each athlete.

Real time data collection is the key in knowing how the joints, muscles and body function at a competitive scenario and derive a specific data for each individual according to their sport and skill.

For example: When an athlete is in acceleration or deceleration or involved in rotational or lateral movements, the data collected can give nearly accurate inference on the body position and dynamics with the stress and strain at every joint involved.

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As sports is evolving and progressing at a terrific pace, athletes using cutting edge technology prudently understand what is happening inside their body during a game. Each athlete is unique and the athletes compete with each other vigorously, giving themselves the tool to understand their bodies better with real data rather than an opaque system. This specialised concept can be used for all athletes including para athletes and even in sports involving animals and machines. The scope is huge and using it prudently with the right inference is the key to top performance.

In future this specialised tool can be a great coaching and analysis tool, enhancing the performance of the team or an individual athlete precisely. Coaching the athlete to pin-point accuracy can be achieved through science and technology. Sticking to basics is one thing, but the concept of basics keeps changing every day and to each athlete, depending on where they are in the performance pyramid.

In future, refining of the technology would create an even more powerful tool for peak performance and injury prevention.

Specialised research domain can be created in understanding the athletes’ physiology in motion inside their bodies, which would be a game changer in peak performance.

With new LTAD (Long Term Athlete Development) model in place, we in India need to look at embracing technology combined with human intervention to create medal winners in Olympics and other top level sporting competitions. Unless and until we embrace technology and put it to best use, we would be fighting the war with sticks and stones, when others are using lasers.

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