The madness is upon us and we eagerly wait to see which NCAA Basketball team cuts down the net at the University of Phoenix Stadium in this year’s championship game.
While in the end there is only one winner all the teams push hard to reign as champions. Some, unfortunately, push too hard and end their season short with injuries. Many sports technology companies are entering the space in order to improve athlete performance and reduce the risk of these injuries.
Below are three injuries sustained during this year’s NCAA Tournament and how sports technology could help lower the risk of those injuries as the game adopts these innovative technologies:
Kenny Williams, North Carolina Tar Heels
The sophomore guard who has started in 22 games this season suffered a right knee injury in practice and will have to undergo surgery. Williams is a huge loss for the Tar Heels as one of the best defensive players on the team. In January, he earned the title of best defense player four times, second to Theo Pinson who was out with an ankle injury.
Injuries to the lower body accounts for an average of 60 percent of injuries in basketball. The use of Whoop, a wearable fitness device that tracks behavior analytics such as sleep, heartrate, body temperature and body movement can help decrease this number. From September 2015 to January 2016, Whoop tracked the behavior of 119 athletes among eight NCAA Division I teams increasing their sleep, decreasing late-night caffeine habits, and reducing alcohol consumption. After four months, the athletes experienced 60 percent fewer injuries.
Chris Boucher, Oregon Ducks
On March 10 senior Chris Boucher suffered a torn ACL in the semifinal win over California. Perhaps the most amazing part of the injury is that Boucher continued to play after suffering the injury. A huge loss for the Ducks and an even bigger loss for the March Madness Cinderella story about the high school dropout.
ACL injuries are one of the most common injuries in basketball and sports technology companies are being used to help athletes recover properly. Catapult, a leading athlete tracking system, has been used for return-to-play considerations. When athletic trainers thought that a prominent basketball player was ready to return to play after sustaining an ACL injury, Catapult’s data revealed a 30 percent deficit in his ability to move to his right and we continued to stay of the court. If the trainers put him back he would have been at risk for a secondary injury.
Dylan Smith, Arizona Wildcats
During this year’s tournament, Dylan Smith, one of five scholarship players for the Arizona Wildcats has been sidelined after slipping during a 3-on-3 drill hitting his head on the court, giving him a concussion. The injury has been described as a “freak accident” as concussions in basketball tend to be rare but there is an increasing rate of injuries to the head and face in the past two decades of the game.
As basketball becomes a more aggressive game technology such as our Athlete Intelligence platform with the Cue Sport Sensor could be used on the court to increase supervision of head impacts. Not only is the real-time impact alert system able to identify dangerous impacts but it also measures performance and endurance to help signify when an athlete may be putting himself at risk due to exhaustion.