Technology in the World of Sports
Japan is known worldwide for its contributions to technology and its rigorous standards of quality. Japanese companies often follow concepts such as “KAIZEN” // 改善 (i.e., “improvement”) – referring to an entity’s initiatives of improving all of its functions, systems, practices, etc., and involving all members, at any level, regardless of position, responsibilities or hierarchy. With such a philosophy, the Japanese society has rapidly integrated technological advancements in numerous fields in order innovate and overcome prior limitations.
Alike Japan, many countries are working towards innovating and adopting the latest trends in this sense. Accordingly, technology is revolutionizing the world of sports globally, providing creative solutions and a competitive edge. Nowadays, staying up to date with the latest technological advancements in sports is becoming a real necessity, rather than a luxury, so as not to fall behind everyone else, and have a means of complementing your strategies.
This being said, let’s talk about some of the ways technology may help your team grow and what evidence exists in this sense. The examples presented in this article refer only to the most recent innovations and are mainly drawn from ice hockey – these may, however, be applied to other sports.      
Numerous studies have been carried out regarding the most adequate materials and techniques for improving sports tools and equipment. Nowadays older materials are being replaced by much more resistant, personalized, and hence, safer alternatives. Examples include protective gear that is made to perfectly suit each player’s body, by means of 3D scanning tools. Additionally, foam and plastic may be removed from the protective pads, reducing players’ weight, which results in enhanced speed. Advancements are noticeable also in ice skates which repel water and aid speed, or carbon-graphite sticks adjustable for the needs / preferences of any player. All these technologies are helping athletes maximize their performance and safety.
LIVE RECORDING AND ANALYSIS TOOLS
These devices help with improving officiating processes during matches, making sure that events are judged as accurately and fairly as possible. Among other leagues, the NHL has adopted such strategy, using advanced replay functions that enable live games to be watched and evaluated by multiple stakeholders, both at the stadium and elsewhere, allowing officials to check the legitimacy of every goal. Such functions also enable fans to re-watch the most heated moments of the game. iPads are as well increasingly popular as more apps that provide recording features appear on the market. Videos are being used to tag and review important game moments during breaks, which helps coaches adapting their strategies in real-time. These apps may also serve as learning tools, through re-visualization and the use of gathered data.
DATABASES AND STATISTICS
Data is essential when it comes to overall performance. It allows coaches and athletes to learn from past situations, more objectively evaluate current strategies and abilities, while helping out with identifying the best solutions for improvement. Many technologies mentioned in this article incorporate data gathering in their systems. Database may store various statistics like player stats, analysis of important game moments, match results, etc.
Such software aim to maximize practice sessions, monitor progress and, based on collected data, advise within decision-making and strategy. Some particularly useful tools are drill animation apps, which allow coaches to easily customize drills before training sessions. The latest advancements include a wide range of features, including 3D visualization, that may help coaches communicate training objectives faster and more effectively. Graphics can reflect training frequency, allowing coaches to keep track of the team’s progress. Additionally, other types of software are designed to hone essential skills that players need for injury prevention (e.g., spatial awareness, anticipation, cognitive functions).
WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY AND SENSORS
These could range from step counters and pulse readers, to chips that are integrated into clothing and equipment, all of which enable the collection of valuable data and statistics. These tracking devices may help capturing the players and puck’s movements and, by using infrared cameras placed around the arena, data is being generated. Attached sensor technologies can enhance training and monitor athletes’ progress.
Virtual reality (i.e., VR) technology is also used to improve training. Through recording practice sessions, players can view these again in 3D with a standard VR device. Players are therefore enabled to observe their actions and their surroundings, and are given the chance to more objectively identify errors and opportunities that they have omitted during the game, where everything happens at a fast pace and emotions could potentially blur focus and responsiveness.
Lastly, it is important to note that technology could never truly replace all benefits of human initiative and interaction, especially within sports, where cooperation, effort, willingness, and emotions are oftentimes the essence of the performance itself. Technology can, however, offer a competitive advantage to coaches, teams, or athletes if used adequately, having been proven to enhance users’ understand of game strategies, teams, own selves, and provide solutions for further development.
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