No matter how talented an athlete is, injuries are an inevitability that can sometimes sideline entire careers. Fatigue can play a major role in injuries, and coaches must rest their players as a preventative measure. Besides the player’s own reports, it is difficult to gauge just how close one is to exhaustion. For the Golden State Warriors, the adaptation of wearable technology may help to reduce the downtime of players. The idea is that taking the players off the court at the right time will lead to more time on the court down the line.
Wearable tech devices are not allowed during actual games, but during practice, a team may use whatever means necessary to track players’ status. Among the technical arsenal the Warriors use is a wireless GPS device from Catapult Sports that is worn inside a compression shirt, between the shoulder blades. This device tracks every movement a player makes, no matter how small. Managers can monitor acceleration, changes in direction, heart rate and the amount of force applied on the knees and ankles.
Recently, the Warriors have utilized a device from a Finnish company called Omegaweave. By attaching electrodes to a player’s face, heart rate variability can be tracked.
Some players bring their own devices to practice. Shooting guard Klay Thompson uses ShotTracker, to track his shooting through sensors on his wrists and the net. Star point guard Stephen Curry was spotted at practice wearing a pair of strobe glasses designed to enhance reaction time and visual awareness.
Small forward Andre Iguodala wears an Apple device as well as a gadget to track his golf swing when he’s on the green. He has been using a Jawbone wristband to track his rest. According to Mercury News, Iguodala signed on with the warriors not just for the attractive $48 million four-year contract, but also to become part of an organization that invests in technology.
Iguodala attributes the Warriors’ 2015 NBA Championship win to a lack of injuries; a result of fatigue tracking through tech. Indeed, an ESPN study shows that the Warriors had fewer minutes lost to injury than any other team during their championship season.
“If players don’t play, you can’t win the games. If Stephen Curry is not healthy, we’re not winning. If Andre Iguodala is not ready to play 42 minutes in a game in the Finals, we’re not winning,” said Warriors assistant general manager Kirk Lacob.