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Sports Safety: The Role of Technology

Steve Shoup

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the safety of professional and amateur athletes in all sports. Wearable technology, data collection, safety advancements, and better athletic gear are all part of the new athletic landscape. It’s not hard to imagine that at some point in the future the risk associated with playing sports will be almost entirely removed.


Traumatic brain injury is a risk often associated with playing football. Being repeatedly tackled has indisputable risks that scientists have been trying to understand with sensors. Their research has led to some of the first helmet innovations in decades. The newly designed helmet crumples upon impact that is sufficient to prevent concussions. It is similar in concept to the design of an automobile. The force of the collision is distributed throughout the helmet using the same sort of crumple technology used to distribute the force of a car accident throughout the frame so that the passengers are injured less severely. This is far different from historic design methodology which provides a hard outer shell with interior padding that does very little to reduce concussive force.


One of the most significant dangers associated with golf is not to the player. Rather, it is to those who are nearby. Golf netting is a recent but important solution to the problem. Various styles are available for golf courses, driving ranges, and enclosures to prevent injury or damage to spectators and property. However, some courses have players teeing off in close proximity to one another. It is also beneficial to separate these areas to ensure errant balls to not cause injury to nearby players.


One of the most exciting innovations for the sport of tennis is Babolat Play. This is the highest tech racket in the industry. It feels and functions like a tradition racket, but the sensors contained within instantly analyze a number of data points, including number of strokes, total play time, energy, technique, spin, and rallies. Once the player has completed a game the device will connect via Bluetooth or USB port so the information can be viewed on a phone, tablet, or computer. This allows players and their coaches to monitor and make necessary changes to improve performance and address safety concerns.


Soccer is arguably the most popular sport in the world. One of the most recent advancements offers to significant benefits to players, performance data and video capture. The Zepp Play Soccer device fits into a special calf sleeve and tracks important metrics such as number of kicks, total amount of active time, maximum speed, kick speed, goal conversion rate, sprints, and preferred foot. It also automatically records key points in the game to be visually reviewed at a later time. The information from the sensor is uploaded via Bluetooth to a device and can be stored and analyzed over time to improve training and prevent injuries. There is also a team function that allows coaches to get a better picture of how the group is working together.

The most popular trends in the field of sports technology are safety and data gathering. The race is on for companies to create better equipment and wearables that will offer tangible benefit to athletes and insight for fans.



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