Sports training technology: How to create a state-of-the-art training center
Author: Rose de Fremery
Professional athletes are always looking for an edge over their opponents. As they do, they may be likely to take advantage of sports training technology, which could help them maintain a high standard of performance and increase their chances of success. At the same time, sports organizations are searching for innovative technology solutions that can help them elevate performance at the team level. Building a state-of-the-art training center is one such approach that can enhance their competitive prospects while also attracting top talent.
With this in mind, here's a look at the innovative technology that goes into creating a state-of-the-art training center as well as the critical role a strong network infrastructure plays in enabling it.
Now taking the field—the connected athlete
If athletes and teams hope to excel and stay ahead of the competition, they must understand exactly how they are performing and what steps they must take in order to improve. To achieve this clarity, they require sophisticated insights into their current athletic abilities as well as personalized development programs that help them attain the next level in their professional growth. Recent advancements in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, data analytics and wireless broadband internet coverage have significantly accelerated their ability to accomplish these goals.
According to research from SportTechie and Verizon presented in The Connected Athlete, top teams and organizations are focused on implementing athlete performance technology to help establish a culture of excellence.1 In particular, teams are prioritizing sensor-based and video capture technology to visualize statistical and performance analytics. Instead of primarily leaning on the expertise of data scientists to accurately interpret the available insights, they are developing internal data literacy at all levels of their organizations—including management, the coaching staff and the players themselves.
This trend indicates that sports organizations increasingly recognize the strategic advantage performance analytics provide and are restructuring their internal operations to treat it as a priority. In a related finding, budgets for technology are on the rise, typically shaped by input from coaches and training staff.2 As these sports organizations become more digitally mature, they are increasingly viewing technology as a strategic enabler. The ability to unlock players' full potential was cited as a key factor in how they evaluate and embrace advanced sports technology by 89% of respondents to the survey conducted for the aforementioned connected athlete white paper.3
Sports training technology: Creating a state-of-the-art training center
Premier sports organizations like the Phoenix Suns are leading professional sports leagues in their use of sports training technology, tapping it as a competitive advantage to help improve their winning percentage. Recognizing that a successful NBA championship run would require everyone operating at peak performance throughout the entire season and potentially well into the postseason, the Suns decided to build a state-of-the-art training center—what the organization calls a living lab—to enable continuous data collection during practice sessions. Once gathered, that information could then be turned into valuable insights. However, with just four cameras and a traditional network architecture in place, the Suns did not originally have the infrastructure required to create this type of training facility.
A modern training center would require not just abundant camera coverage but interconnected systems and a high-performing network that would enable the necessary data collection and analysis. The Suns built a new practice facility, known as the Verizon 5G Performance Center, featuring 150 cameras and sensors embedded in the walls to capture every player's exact movement during each drill and scrimmage. 5G Ultra Wideband and mobile edge computing (MEC) power these cutting-edge applications, enabling the timely transmission and analysis of player performance data as it becomes available. With a 360-degree view of each player, the Suns' coaches, trainers, players and front-office staff can now identify innovative ways to help enhance the team's performance.
Advanced 5G network technologies can help improve performance
As elite sports organizations are digitally maturing and increasingly relying on sports technology for their day-to-day operations, they are investing in platforms and solutions that aggregate and unify data—from on the field and off of it—into a single app or interface for near real-time analysis and prompt action. Technology in sports training relies on the ability to process vast quantities of data at incredibly high speeds, which means, in turn, it needs near real-time compute capabilities. The low latency of 5G can help make this possible.
5G Ultra Wideband and MEC paired with cutting edge applications can help deliver on these modern requirements. With these advanced technologies, professional sports organizations can get deep insights in near real-time, build out bespoke facilities where athletes and coaches go to help improve player and team performance, and ultimately execute their strategic priorities. This advanced network infrastructure gave the Phoenix Suns a crucial assist as they ended a 10-year playoff drought, rocketing from last place to first place within just two years. Looking ahead, 82% of respondents to the Connected Athlete Survey said training facilities and utilization of advanced technology are valuable recruitment and retention tools.4
Organizations in other sports categories have also begun realizing the potential benefits that advanced 5G network architecture could offer. For example, in hockey, investments are being made in a sensor-based puck and player tracking system to create new performance statistics, enhance storytelling capabilities for broadcasters, drive fan engagement, and enable new revenue opportunities.
The training center of the future is here
As long as professional sports have existed, players, coaches and organizational leaders have devoted untold amounts of time and expertise toward maximizing performance at the individual and team levels. Recent technology advances like 5G and edge computing have helped sports organizations to unlock insights through near real-time data analysis, which is enhancing performance. Recognizing the unique opportunity this development presents, sports team owners are doubling down on their investments in sports training technology and creating future-ready, state-of-the-art training facilities that can propel their teams toward future success.
Learn how Verizon's Connected Athlete solutions can help improve player performance.
The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.