Posts Tagged ‘New York Giants’

Teams Advancing Fast At The Intersection Of Science And Technology

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Sports, science and technology are converging at an all-time pace and eight NBA teams are experimenting with a new device designed to optimize and personalize training regiments, thus the ability to maximize performance and reduce injury.

The San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, plus four other teams that have chosen to keep their identities secret, have invested in these complex GPS tracking devices created by the Australian company Catapult Sports, the self-professed leader in “athlete analytics.”

“We just want to be able to get smarter about our players and how to train them and how to put them in a position to succeed,” said Mavs owner Mark Cuban. “So that’s just one component of a lot of different things that we’re doing.”

The device, called OptimEye, is roughly the size of an oldfangled beeper and athletes wear it inside their jerseys on the upper back between the shoulder blades. The device records literally every movement the player makes, accurately measuring exertions such as distance, velocity, changes of direction, acceleration, deceleration, jumps, heart rate and more.

These physiological and physical performance parameters are then uploaded to a computer to be analyzed, allowing coaches, trainers and the players to understand their individual workload levels. These are conclusions that once could only be subjective, say, by reading a player’s body language, to now being totally objective. By wearing the devices during practices, teams can monitor their players’ physical output and closely watch their load levels to ensure each player is not being overworked and ensuring ultimate preparedness to play in each game when performance counts.

Worn during workouts, the device can provide real-time data alerting coaches and trainers if a player’s exertion rate is too high, the moment when a player is most vulnerable to injury, allowing coaches and trainers to pull back.

Catapult’s Gary McCoy compares the company’s technology to the intricate and mandatory gauges that measure engine performance and other vital signs of a high-performance race car.

“Imagine NASCAR, or even mechanically more precise, Formula 1 racing,” McCoy said. “Powerful engines. High-performance mechanical needs. Could you imagine driving one of these vehicles without any dashboard whatsoever?  What if you cant ‘hear’ the engine?  Would you know when you are ‘redlining,’ causing untold overload to the system?

“The same happens every day for a high-powered NBA athlete — we drive them without a dashboard, we guess. Our eyes give us extremely limited information.  We don’t know what is too much, what is too little. Catapult data changes all this. Viable, objective measurements on movement, and then simply what we can measure, we can manage.”

The Knicks did exactly that last season with Jason Kidd. Before Kidd returned from injury, he wore the device during workouts to track his acceleration, agility and force. As Forbes’ Alex Konrad reported, with a benchmark reading set in the preseason, the team got the numbers it needed to clear him to play. It allows for specific measurements to be met, rather than a player approximating his readiness. How many times have you heard an athlete say he’s about 85 percent? What exactly does that mean?

The NBA is just the latest pro sports league to jump headfirst into this new technology. Catapult has more than 300 clients worldwide, including the NFL’s New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills, plus half the English Premiere League and most of Australian Rules Football. The company says it is talking to nearly every team in the NFL and NBA.

The Bills produced a video detailing how it utilizes the Catapult devices. The Eagles, under first-year coach Chip Kelly, hired former performance coach for the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group 2, Shaun Huls, as the NFL’s first “sports science coordinator.” It’s a direction that Cuban could be moving in as well. He recently fired his 10-year strength and development coach and said the replacement will be “more of an expert in performance technology science.”

The NFL and NBA do not allow players to wear the device during regular-season games. The Spurs used the technology during the Las Vegas Summer League, becoming the first NBA to wear the technology during in an actual game environment.

Cuban said he’s considering using it during the NBA’s preseason in October. He said he has not yet been advised against it by the league. A league spokesman did not respond to an email Friday inquiring if the NBA would allow the technology to be used during preseason games.

Allowing the technology to be used in regular-season games might require a green light from the players association. Such data can cause uncertainty among players associations, agents, front offices and others involved in contract negotiations.

Yet, with so many clients around the world and the technology only to become more refined, these tracking devices might soon become as commonplace during games as the Gatorade cooler.

Miami’s Streak Ranks Atop Greatest Across U.S. Pro Sports

No offense to the puck set, but that Chicago Blackhawks’ points streak that got so much attention over the first half of the post-lockout NHL season has lost a little of its luster lately.

The hottest thing on ice so far in 2012-13 melts in comparison to what the Miami Heat have done in winning 26 consecutive games.

It’s not the Blackhawks’ fault that their sport allows for ties, awards and aligns its standings according to points rather than victories or winning percentages. It’s not their fault, entirely, that they have the gimmickry of the shootout as a less-filling way of determining outcomes. If you can earn a point when you lose – something Chicago did three times by shootout in its season-opening streak of 24 games with at least one point – it’s not quite the same as an undefeated streak, now is it?

The Miami Heat cannot tie. Overtime periods in the NBA accrue until the scoreboard shows someone ahead at a horn. There is no wacky dunk-off to sorta, kinda declare the winner, nor is there any tangible consolation to losing.

This is no kiddie sport where you get a trophy simply for showing up.

About the time the Blackhawks stretched their streak to its max, right wing Patrick Kane traded Tweets with LeBron James, whose Miami team was just matching the Clippers’ mark of 17 games for the NBA’s longest run this season. “Hey Chicago Blackhawks, u guys are AWESOME!! #streaking” James sent out to his followers. Kane responded: “Back at you LeBron. Keep rolling.”

The Heat did just that, even as the Blackhawks got stopped in Denver on March 8. With nine additional victories, the Heat have matched the longest winning streak in the other three major U.S. professional sports. Baseball’s 1916 New York Giants won 26 in a row from Sept. 7 through Sept. 30.

If Miami beats the Magic in Orlando Monday night for No. 27, only six foes and 12 days will stand between it and the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ record of 33 consecutive victories. After two days to savor that, the Heat would go for No. 34 at home April 9 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Then they would have five regular-season games left to push the record further, rest some players for the postseason or –- who’s to say they couldn’t? -– do both.

Here is a look at the longest winning streaks in major U.S. sports history (we’ll set aside for now those staggering marks in NCAA Division I basketball — 90 by  the UConn women and 88 by the UCLA men back in the day):

Major League Baseball

Managed by the legendary John McGraw, the Giants of 1916 traded away a couple of future Hall of Famers — pitcher Christy Mathewson and outfielder Edd Roush — before the streak began that season. Another, George (Highpockets) Kelly, turned 20 that month and was just getting started. New York had a 17-game streak earlier that season — a whole lot of consecutive winning for a team that finished fourth in the National League and never once sat atop the standings. In fact, even though the Giants went from three games under .500 (59-62) to 23 over with the September streak, they didn’t budge from fourth place the entire time. This one has an asterisk, too, because of a tie — the Giants had won 12 in a row when the nightcap of a doubleheader against Pittsburgh was called at 1-1. (If you’re a stickler on this stuff, the 1935 Chicago Cubs won 21 in a row with no ties.)

National Football League

Pro football can come at the Heat’s streak in three different ways. If you’re looking for the longest winning streak, period, then look to the New England Patriots, who started a run of 21 triumphant outcomes on Oct. 5, 2003 and kept it going through Oct. 24, 2004, spanning both regular season and playoff games, including a Super Bowl.

The NFL’s longest streak of regular season games — that’s what Miami is doing, after all — belongs to the Indianapolis Colts, who won 23 in a row across the 2008 and 2009 seasons but stumbled in their wild-card game against San Diego at the end of 2008, losing in overtime. Then Peyton Manning & Co. went 14-0 in 2008 before losing again, this time to the Jets two days after Christmas.

Of course, if you want a winning streak fully contained in one season — which we presume will be the case with the Heat unless they pull off fo’, fo’, fo’, fo’ dominance in the playoffs — then it’s back to the Patriots. In 2007, New England won every game from its opener through the AFC championship — 18 straight — before faltering in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. And, memorably, the Dolphins went 14-0 in the regular season and rolled through the playoffs on their way to a Super Bowl title and a perfect 17-0 season in 1972.

National Hockey League

The Blackhawks’ consecutive points streak of 24 games to start the season — and 30 if you go back to the end of the 2011-12 regular season — left them shy of the NHL’s longest by those standards. In 1979-80, the Philadelphia Flyers recorded at least one point in 35 consecutive games.

But if you have a distate for ties when the talk turns to winning streaks, then the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins is your team to beat. Led by Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, that crew of defending Stanley Cup champions won 17 in a row — no small feat when the opponent at least has the option of playing for a tie, unlike in the other sports. The previous record had been 15 set by the 1981-82 New York Islanders en route to the third of their four straight championships.