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The Importance of Managing an Athlete’s Maximum Speed Capacity to Minimize Injury

In NASCAR, American stock car racing’s elite circuit, the competition cars on the track look quite similar to Chevrolets, Fords and Toyotas you would find on the average U.S. expressway. But they are, inarguably, built differently. The goal of greater speeds at longer distances requires unique design specifications that allow for the constant testing of a car’s capabilities – but which can still result in equipment failure. Bigger engines pushed to the brink always translate to more risk.

Human athletes, as it turns out, are similar in this sense. The fastest and strongest among them may have more power under the hood to maximize performance, but the force and torque their “engines” generate can pose a threat to other parts of the machine. And whereas NASCAR crews are able to rebuild a driver’s car after every race, humans – made of muscle, tendon and bone – get only one engine. In order to ensure optimal outputs over the maximum amount of time, the interactions between those parts within a professional athlete’s body must be managed with meticulous care and proper training.

Balancing Speed Capacity Against Injury Risk

Speed potential on the football pitch is an obvious difference-maker for any club: center forwards and wingers who can outrun their opponents will theoretically receive, and create, more scoring opportunities than their slower counterparts. Fleet wingbacks are more likely to keep up with the best midfielders, cutting off angles and stymying offensive attacks. Similarly, speed has the ability to weaponize players and teams across a variety of sports, from American football to track and field to rugby.

But managing an athlete’s speed capacity to hedge against injury risk is critical to maintaining player availability and peak performance. That begins with identifying an athlete’s maximum speed capacity, determining their likely resilience based on current load (including exposure rates and intervals) and working backwards to design a training regimen and monitoring program that strikes an optimal balance between peak speed performance and injury mitigation.

How Sportlight Can Help

NASCAR mechanics have the luxury of replacing or upgrading parts when they fail or fall short, but fabricating the human body for performance is far trickier. But one advantage available to both a pit crew chief and a performance practitioner are accurate and intelligent diagnostic (or tracking) tools. As we established, managing an athlete across the speed capacity-injury risk spectrum starts with identifying their top speed – and that requires more than just a stopwatch and a few test laps around the track.

Sportlight’s LiDAR-based player-tracking system offers unrivaled accuracy, comprehensive data capturing and insight-revealing processing and deep learning. Determining an athlete’s speed capacity, tracking their exposures and managing their load with the prescribed goal of maximizing output while minimizing risk is the sort of challenge Sportlight’s system was designed to solve.

With superior accuracy, dynamic player-tracking and portability that allows for consistent data capture in all situations, Sportlight provides performance practitioners with the technology to monitor and manage maximum speed capacity while minimizing the injury risk that comes with increasing the horsepower of athletic engines.

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