As the recently departed head coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Chip Kelly has heard more than a few people call him, well, more than a few things. And yet, during his 2013-2015 tenure with the team, the fans likely never spit out the words some other coaches were snarling behind his back: sports science.
“The violent reaction to it happened over the past two to three years,” says Kevin Davidowicz, co-founder of CoachMePlus. “Chip Kelly was the first to bring sports science into the NFL, and everybody watched that with very skeptical eyes. There’s a lot of positives and negatives to the program that he ran, but in the three years since he did that, we’ve watched teams go from ‘We’re not going to touch that’ to ‘We’re experimenting.’”
And the NFL was among the last to the party. Teams across the NBA, NHL, MLB and hundreds of universities have already embraced a wide variety of emerging data-based technologies in the quest to build a better athlete. Teams with smaller rosters have been quicker to adapt because they face a less costly gamble with a squad of 15 players than with, say, an NFL roster of 53. But all across elite sports, coaches and athletes alike agree that when their players can stay healthier than others, their team wins. That makes tech-based enhancements to training, recovery time and injury prevention a trend they cannot afford to ignore.
CoachMePlus, one of the many players in this field, works with teams to analyze their athletes’ performance and recommend enhancements. To keep coaches informed when players are dehydrated, for example, CoachMePlus collects diagnostic data and delivers the results via smartphone alerts, printed reports and, in the case of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, video monitors in the clubhouse.
“If I have 90 guys in training camp,” Dawidowicz says, “I need to know which five guys are in danger out there so I can intervene.”