Elite athletes have always been the most physically gifted and coordinated among us. Since ancient Greece and the birth of the Olympic Games, records have noted the physical condition and natural abilities of famed sportsmen and women, often hinting at God-given powers. Today's athletes are no different. Just looking at them is almost seems like many have been put on earth to compete for their specific event. While it seems like certain athletes may never be beat, through technological advances, they are finding ways to take their abilities to the next level. Science and technology are always evolving, and with it so does an athlete's capacity to run faster, jump higher, or get stronger. Here's how technology has completely changed the face of sports.
For the modern athlete, sports science is a fundamental part of day-to-day life. At the elite level, athletes will be in constant contact with medical professionals who monitor and aid performance, keeping track of fitness levels, injuries, and a whole raft of other performance-related areas. Professional teams, such as soccer or basketball, will typically have at least one dedicated doctor as well as a team of physios and sports scientists on the payroll. These medical professionals play a key role in preventing injury - and successful rehabilitation from it - which makes them invaluable for preserving the careers of the highly-paid star players on the team.
Top-level professional sports have been leveraging data for performance improvements for a while now, and like sports science, it's commonplace for analysis and coaching to be centered around its findings. During training and competitions, athletes will wear hardware that monitors their heart rate, among other things, which informs coaches of their condition. Not only does this help both coaches and athletes analyze performance levels during training, but it can also, for example, provide real-time intel into whether a certain player on a team needs to be substituted. At the highest level, even a tiny increase in performance can make all the difference between winning and losing.
Like data, analysis has been an integral part of elite sports for a while now. Groups of analysts will be employed by professional sports teams to help give their players an edge prior to their next challenge. This analysis will be presented to the coaching team, who can study the hours of footage of opposing players, informing tactics and selection decisions for the upcoming games. Again, any slight weaknesses in the opposition spotted during analysis can be exploited to give teams and athletes the edge.
Technology in sports reaches every possible area of performance, and the apparel worn by athletes is no different. The technology used in the production of performance wear is constantly giving athletes an edge, with brands like Nike and Adidas investing huge amounts into the field. Apparel is lighter, more breathable, and less restrictive than ever, allowing athletes to fully focus on their performance. When it comes to shaving milliseconds off their times, or decreasing weight by a couple of grams, every little enhancement counts. If that's a new way of wearing something or wearing a new fabric entirely, then technology can help find an edge.