By Blaine Grisak
By the day, technology is becoming more apart of sports. This season Baseball has began to use a replay/challenge system for the first time, and the technology used in player’s equipment is astounding.
Technology certainly has the ability to change the game of football from all assets as it can be used for anything from player preparation for games and practices, to player safety, and coaches getting a better idea of what the players are seeing.
One of the more popular ways in the NFL that technology is being used, is in game film, practice film, and the playbook. Instead of having to lug around a 500+ page playbook, teams are now able to store those play books and make it more portable and versatile for the player by using iPads.
Teams are able to upload game and practice film to the tablets and have developed apps to make preparation easier for the players, especially the younger generations. The NFL also allows teams to have them in the locker room right up until kickoff. Watching film is much easier than it used to be, and there is really no excuse for players not to be prepared in today’s game.
Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went as far as saying that he imported the entire Vikings playbook into the “Madden” video game made by EA Sports to help him prepare and get that one extra rep that could help him.
As crazy as it sounds, it might actually work. From a fans perspective, playing Madden can certainly help. Kids and young adults now have a better understanding as to what the difference is between a nickel and dime defense and the difference between a cover 3 and a cover 2 and when the two coverages should be used. Whether or not they ever played high school football or were ever taught how to read a football playbook, fans now have a better understanding of the game and Madden has helped in that aspect.
Although NFL defenses disguise a lot more and are much more complex, with how realistic the video game is becoming, this is something that might become more popular. There is no way to truly simulate an NFL defense, but what Bridgewater is doing, certainly can’t hurt.
Technology Helping Coaches and Player Safety
The NFL has been very conscious about player safety over the past couple of years with all of the concussion cases that have came out. Technology is something that can definitely be used to help concussions and studies, but it can also be used to help prevent other injuries as well.
When players are tired is when they are most susceptible to getting hurt. The muscles get fatigued and therefore weaken and are more likely to tear. Therefore, some NFL teams have started using GPS data to help reduce small-tissue and muscle injuries.
With this technology coaches are able to a live digital display of each player’s physical effort and conditioning levels as recorded by a GPS machine embedded in the player’s jersey. The technology has given concrete data to a decision coaches would usually make by instinct or feel. This way coaches are able to tell who is actually physically fatigued and who isn’t.
Injuries are still going to happen, as they are unfortunately apart of the game, however using this type of technology can certainly reduce it. Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles uses this technology and he has gone on the record to say that his team’s soft-tissue injuries, such as muscle pulls and tears, have dropped by 88 percent since in the two years that the program has used it.
This is only the beginning of technology in sports used in this manner and teams will continue to experiment. Some NFL and college teams use Schutt Vision helmets which are embedded with HD video cameras that allow coaches to review what the players see during practices and see the field from a different perspective. This can be highly beneficial, especially from a coaches point of view so that they know what the players are seeing and can correct a mistake that they might not normally see.
During the Eagles’ rookie minicamp, head coach Chip Kelly used a remote control car to simulate pre-snap motion. The uses of technology are endless, and coaches are just beginning to see the potential.
What The Future Holds
It will certainly be interesting to see what the future has in store for us and what this will all lead to, but by my guess, we will see somewhat of a different game in the next 10-15 years. Football is all about trying to get an advantage over your opponent, and technology is just one way to do that.
What’s next in football and technology is uncertain and unpredictable, but what is known is the options are infinite and we are just beginning to open the door.