Used efficiently, technologies applied to any sphere represent an advantage, especially on the path to finding feasible solutions to different problems that, without them, would be unlikely. In sports, technology has made inroads in different areas, with proven achievements in world events.
On a global scale, changes have been made to athletes’ equipment; there have been innovations in terms of safety to prevent injuries in competition and in training.
In Cuba, the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) works, among other aspects, to establish laboratories with technologies that promote, above all, the management of athletes’ training, explained Mélix Ilisástigui Avilés, the institution’s director of Science, Technology and Environment.
Currently, she added, agreements are being made with the University of Computer Sciences to begin to apply sports-related software, and work is ongoing on the development of biomechanical analysis programs.
In this regard, the director highlighted that the country is promoting the use of Biomechanics through state-of-the-art technology to improve results in Cuban sports, as analysis of human performance is a cornerstone of athletic success.
Biomechanics studies are used to analyze the mechanics of athlete’s movements. The Cuban Sports Research Center (CIDC) has already conducted studies in this area, which have helped correct training methods by improving sprint start block angles, the stroke rate when rowing, and the position of the pole when pole vaulting, Ilisástigui noted.
”Based on this, special training methodologies are created, in order to rectify the sport in question. The technology makes the diagnosis more precise and from there other methods to intervene and modify the action are generated,” she added.
A CENTER FOR BIOMECHANICAL STUDIES
Within the CIDC, the area of biomechanics is devoted to the kinematic and kinetic study of athletes’ movement technique, based on the governing laws and principles, thus providing a crucial service to coaches during training sessions, the center’s director, René Romero Esquivel, told Granma.
Thanks to the studies carried out, pole vaulter Yarisley Silva’s take-off has improved. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia
“These studies aim to achieve better results with the technique, in addition to distinguishing motor actions, based on model motions, and thus detecting the mistakes made by the athlete,” he noted.
To do so, the CIDC uses one of the pioneering programs for biomechanical development: Motion II – professional motion analysis software. Developed by German firm Contemplas, Cuba is the only developing country to use it.
This software offers for the first time a general laboratory concept that combines maximum flexibility in the use of high-end equipment. However, the system itself is not limited to a single sport, and can be adapted to the needs of both coaches and those operating it.
The program uses patterns which make it capable of automatically analyzing physical movement, where specific modules allow for focus on video capture with external and analog/digital data collection devices. The equipment works at a speed of 300-400 frames per second and the cameras use reference models to undertake the analysis, Romero Esquivel explained.
While filming, the images are automatically passed through vertical and horizontal reference models, providing highly accurate results, certified by the International Organization of Legal Metrology, and endorsed by the National Metrology Service.
According to the CIDC director, the technology has been applied in different disciplines for the past year, including men’s and women’s volleyball, in which, to cite just one example, a notable improvement of 15 centimeters in the height of players’ jumps has been noted, as compared to their original motion patterns.
It has also been applied to canoeing, rowing, athletics, judo, softball, wrestling, cycling, and women’s basketball, as well as individual studies in swimming, specifically in lap turns.
”There have been approximately 243 biomechanical studies conducted in these sports so far this year,” noted Romero Esquivel.
For example, biomechanical studies using this German technology were undertaken in athletics with Cuban pole vaulter Yarisley Silva. One of the problems detected in her jumps was how to convert the transmission of speed and horizontal force into vertical power at the right moment, to pass over the bar but without soaring an extra seven or eight centimeters above it – an issue that has been resolved, the director explained.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SOFTWARE USED IN CUBA
—In the analysis of cycling, the optimal position to sit on the bike is identified, as well as efficient movement patterns.
— Analysis of the pole vault evaluates the explosive strength of athletes and optimizes their training to make best use of this. The complete analysis parameters evaluate test jumps to identify the output power.
— The system detects athletes’ weaknesses and helps improve their performance.
— The analysis of posture provides a highly competitive concept for the evaluation of athletes’ planes of movement and spinal mechanics.
— For specific sports, Contemplas has developed motion analysis systems to meet updated requirements: swimming performance analysis and a sprint start analysis system.