World champion Warriors win with a technological edge

World champion Warriors win with a technological edge

Wearable performance evaluating technologies give the basketball power another advantage.

Professional athletes are always looking for an edge over the competition, from the use of yoga to applying tools from sports psychologists. Now one highly successful team is making news with its innovative uses of wearable technology that tracks the player’s physiology and provides data that team officials are using to make critical personnel decisions.

The Golden State Warriors, who last season won the NBA Championship following a record-making season, are among the league’s leaders in adopting wearable technologies, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The team makes wide use of a variety of devices to track the health of their players, based on their experience that such tracking enables them to stay healthy and avoid injuries.

An ESPN study found that the Warriors had fewer minutes lost to injury than any other NBA team last year.

One device the team uses is made by the Australian company Catapult Sports. The small wireless GPS is worn behind a compression shirt and can track a player’s movements, heart rate, and the amount of force on the player’s knees and ankles. Using data from the device, the Warriors track fatigue and workload, using the data to determine when rest may be useful in helping to avoid injuries.

Last year, head coach Steve Kerr used Catapult data in deciding to rest his star backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in a game against Denver. The move prompted some backlash by fans who were disappointed that the two did not play, but Kerr defended the move as critical for the team’s long-term success over the course of the lengthy NBA season.

Curry and Thompson are among several Warriors who are taking up other wearable technologies in their training. Curry practices his ball-handling skills while wearing strobe glasses that cut his peripheral vision, helping him improve his reaction time and visual awareness. Thompson is an involved with a company called ShotTracker which makes sensors that players can wear to help track their shooting motion.

Their teammate Andre Iguodala, the NBA Finals MVP last year, wears an Apple watch, a wristband to track and maximize his rest, and a device to monitor his golf swing.

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