Seattle Sounders FC players may already be some of the most measured athletes in soccer, but they can add biometric 3D video scanning to their daily regimen after the team announced its latest sports science partnership.
The Sounders science and training staff, headed by Dave Tenney, always want more data points. Their goal is to measure which players are fit, how they are recovering, and even to try to predict injury, or at least the risk of injury. An "early warning system," Sounders Sports Scientist Ravi Ramineni calls it, and it just got a little more advanced. The latest tech is from Irish firm Kitman Labs, who are also on board with Norwich City FC, the Detroit Pistons, LA Dodgers and Miami Dolphins.
While some of the company's offerings seem to double what the Sounders already have, one unique product is a 3D-camera-based biomechanical test called Capture. The system records a series of isolated movements by a player and returns data on range of motion, body assymetry, and presumably can catch signs of disfunction or injury better or earlier than the naked eye.
Tenney isn't looking to Capture to predict injury on its own, but he sees it as part of "understanding the interactions of everything," he said in a release. "The ability to benchmark and measure our athletes' asymmetry with frequency may give us the ability to accurately assess injury risk, and thereby increase opportunities to reduce injury occurrence."
They have previously adopted technologies that track virtually everything the players do, from training to eating to sleep. Ramineni takes that data (over 350 columns per player, as of last year) from GPS, heart rate, sleep quality and other sensors and finds ways to make it relevant and available for the coaches and trainers.
Sounders fans might grumble about Tenney and Ravineni's system after the spate of hamstring and other injuries that plagued the team in 2015, but the trainers maintain it was the timing of the injuries, not the rate, that was unusual and unfortunate. They aren't, however, dismissing the injury issues of the last season, and this new partnership should give them more numbers to work with.
Biometrics can't predict muscle pulls yet, but rest assured the Sounders seem willing to invest in anything short of robotic legs that will get them closer to a full season of healthy hamstrings.