For Olympians and pro baseball players, winter training wears many hats

The world’s top athletes all have their own ways of preparing themselves for world-class competition. Some simply need a bit of rest and relaxation to recover from the slog of a grueling season while others train year-round to meet the demands of a seemingly never-ending competition schedule.

But for a niche sport like short track racing, Samsung is here to help. It developed what looks to be essentially a motion-tracking suit much like what is used to record computer graphic imagery — dubbed it the SmartSuit — and enabled every movement to be tracked by a smartphone. The device is being used by a couple Dutch skaters to log some winter training in preparation for February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The suit reportedly tracks each skater’s movement down to the millimeter and sends the data to a smartphone, allowing a coach or athlete to analyze each skating stride to see how they can better pull off those razor-sharp turns. Given that each suit needs to be precisely designed for each individual, it’s not up for public consumption yet.

While strapping yourself inside a high-tech bodysuit is one way to prepare, the Cleveland Indians’ Francisco Lindor, meanwhile, is taking a more holistic approach.

Rather than stay inside and play the latest and greatest video games like many 24-year-olds, the All-Star shortstop, coming off a career year in 2017 after hitting 33 home runs and knocking in 89 runs, spent part of his offseason in Tokyo studying the martial art of aikido. He shared a few snippets of the experience on Instagram.

Ready to do some work on people! #Tokyo #Aikido

A post shared by Francisco Lindor (@lindor12bc) on

While there are plenty of martial arts devoted to combat and competition, aikido focuses on the art of self-defense and instructs its students on how to deflect and transfer incoming energy (like a punch thrown at your face) with minimal effort while leaving the attacker unharmed. Or, in baseball terms, how to turn on a 100 mph fastball with the most efficient swing possible or snag a sharp ground ball and seamlessly flip it to the second baseman to start a double play.

Aikido was developed by martial artist Morihei Ueshiba, and it is often translated to mean “the way of harmonious spirit.” It requires a sharp, relaxed mind, as an aikido practitioner is taught to stay relaxed in even the most pressure-filled situations (like Game 7 of the World Series, for instance, which Lindor has some experience with).  And it sounds a like a more fun and culturally engaging time to prepare for the upcoming season than standing in a batting cage with a pitching machine and then studying all the analytical data that comes from the impact sensor attached to your bat.

Although Lindor is already one of the game’s top players, judging by his Instagram post below, he still has a long ways to go before he’s anywhere close to that level in aikido.

Didn't go as planned. They must have scouted me! ????

A post shared by Francisco Lindor (@lindor12bc) on

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