To prepare the Bulldogs for this elite level of play, the MSU Athletic Department has partnered with the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) for a new sports performance program. Combining engineering know-how with established training methods, the program helps coaches gain a better understanding of the players’ physiology.
“We have two goals: to maximize athlete performance and to maintain athlete health,” explained Daniel Carruth, associate director of human factors at CAVS. “The data we collect supplements the information that the athletic trainers routinely gather and will help them evaluate their current training programs.”
Working with Matt Balis, head strength and conditioning coach, and scientists from the university’s kinesiology department, the CAVS researchers are using motion capture technology and specialty modeling software to allow the coaches to monitor, from any angle, how an athlete moves and reacts when performing certain actions. “Currently, the coaches use video to help evaluate players’ physical performance while in training, but this only allows them to see one side at a time. We are able to provide 3-D data, which let the coaches evaluate the player from any angle,” Carruth said.
Adam Knight, an assistant professor of sport biomechanics, added, “Motion capture and modeling software allows us to see things that you might miss with the naked eye. By identifying an athlete who might be predisposed to an injury, the athletic trainers can work to correct those deficiencies.”
The program began in the summer of 2010 when the researchers collected data on a select group of athletes. After determining what information best allows the coaches to assess the players’ performance, the group established a schedule for collecting data to evaluate the athletes’ progress in the strength and conditioning program.
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