Professional sports have changed substantially over the years as they’ve adapted to advances in technology. In the late 1940s, the Zamboni revolutionized professional hockey by drastically speeding up the process of preparing the ice rink. In the 1960s domed stadiums were invented and made it possible to play baseball, soccer, and football even in inclement weather. Technology is still changing pro sports today—here’s how.
What Athletes Wear
Athletic clothing has become an important piece of equipment, just like a soccer ball, baseball bat, or golf club. Some interesting new clothing advances include:
- Nike developed new basketball jerseys with graphics etched into them. By strategically placing the graphics, garment makers can reduce the weight of the jerseys and increase airflow over the skin. This means the body doesn’t have to waste as much energy staying cool.
- Speedo recently collaborated with NASA and the Australian Institute of Sport to develop a new suit called the LZR Racer. The suit is made of material that holds the body in a more hydrodynamic position, increases oxygen flow to muscles, and expels water. The suit also has specially designed seams to avoid drag.
- Under Armour and Lockheed Martin teamed up to create the speed skating suit called the “March 39.” Using high speed cameras, wind tunnels, and computational fluid dynamic models, engineers created a revolutionary suit that reduces drag on speed-skaters.
Athletic clothing is continually becoming lighter, stronger, more flexible, and less air resistant as technology continues to press forward.
How Athletes Train
One of the main ways athletes train is by analyzing their performance for flaws and then finding ways to make corrections and improvements. Companies like RealityPitching.com offer real time video analysis and injury risk assessment for those working on improving their baseball pitching skills.
Skeleton and Bobsled coaches have started using new mobile apps like Ubersense and AMPSports to give their athletes quick feedback. Coaches have filmed and tracked athlete performance and stats for years, but this allows them to give feedback immediately after an event using something simple like a tablet instead of lugging around binders full of spreadsheets.
The opportunities for instantaneous feedback are making training more effective and efficient.
How Viewers Watch
Instant playback was developed in the 1960s and forever changed sports by allowing viewers to go back and analyze plays and catch exciting moments they may have missed.
In recent years, high definition cameras have allowed viewers to get even closer to the action and some companies have even developed soccer balls with built in cameras, so spectators can see the game from an all new (and very fast paced) perspective. Smart phones, tablets, and mobile apps have also given viewers the option to watch games wherever they go. Avid fans can check stats and follow along during games even if they are far from home.
High tech gadgets have changed professional sports over the years and it will be interesting to see what advances come in the future as researchers and companies work to make professional sports better for athletes and fans alike.