Innovations in Athletics: The top products of 2019
dIt’s impossible these days to run an athletic program without integrating some form of technology. From tablets to wearables, innovative products give teams an edge by providing valuable insight on player performance and team optimization.
For Coach & Athletic Director’s fifth annual innovations issue, we examined nearly 100 products designed to help athletic administrators, strength professionals, athletic trainers and sport coaches. In the end, we chose eight that displayed a unique or creative ability to help teams, protect athletes or manage programs.
Here are our picks for the year’s top innovations.
Force3 Pro Gear
The Force3 Defender Mask is a patented spring-loaded catching mask that’s changing the game. It’s designed to absorb the impact from balls, protecting catchers and home plate umpires against head injuries.
The Defender Mask features Force3’s patented shock suspension system, which is comprised of three sets of double springs that are lightweight and designed to withstand 100-mph impacts from baseballs and softballs. The Defender Mask comes equipped with Force3’s proprietary padding system compromised of DuPont Kevlar, EVA foam, and memory foam to provide exceptional comfort and protection. It’s available in both traditional and hockey style.
The Force3 Defender Mask is the only mask on the market featuring Force3’s patented shock suspension system technology. Independent testing concluded that the suspension system technology reduces frontal impact forces in most cases. The hockey-style Defender Mask meets NOCSAE standards.
MLB catchers Tyler Flowers and Yasmani Grandal are part owners of Force3, and the mask is growing in popularity among professional catchers.
SAFE Athlete is sports medicine’s first active mental health screening and alerts platform. The platform provides a secure and automated way for athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals to screen, alert, facilitate and engage athletes when they need support the most.
SAFE Athlete is built into the industry’s only mobile-first Sports Medicine EHR platform and is customizable to fit the unique environments of colleges, schools and workplaces. As a platform meant to work in conjunction with an organization’s mental health program, SAFE Athlete allows athletic departments to customize the steps taken after identifying an at-risk student-athlete. It has privacy features to limit or share results with coaches, athletic directors and other relevant parties.
SAFE Athlete is the latest addition to Healthy Roster’s sports medicine EHR platform. Along with the standard features such as injury documentation, treatments and follow-up services, Healthy Roster provides a HIPAA/FERPA compliant environment, executing BAAs, custom forms with dynamic data capture (including pre-participation forms and annual physicals), two-way integration with major EHRs, clinical eFax, secure mobile messaging, live video chats, and ROI reports.
After talking to athletic trainers across the country, many said they had been charged with building a mental health program for their athletes. SAFE Athlete immediately provides a way for athletic departments across the country to address mental health with a secure, automated and responsive platform.
QUS is the world’s first washable smart textile that enables accurate body data acquisition. Intelligent sensors in the QUS shirt record all relevant data, store it in a cloud, and help to optimize the training. It records important data such as heart rate, respiratory rate, heart rate variability and calorie consumption. It also maintains geodata including position, distance and steps.
Because of the textile sensors, QUS is 100% washable without losing accuracy. The combination of vital data and geodata makes this product unique and special. For the very first time, it’s possible to get an accurate breathing rate measurement in the most comfortable way possible.
QUS has many advantages for the athlete. With the user-friendly app, they can analyze their training afterward. For teams, there are many ways that QUS can optimize and maximize training sessions. In the performance dashboard, for example, users can analyze the training for each athlete individually but also compare all athletes with one another. An overall view in a single page gives coaches and athletes fast and accurate insights about the workout.
Ballogy Coach HQ is an all-in-one basketball training platform for players and teams. It serves as a digital headquarters to enable coaches to streamline communication with players and create accountability while capturing key data and analytics around their performances.
The ability to easily connect with players outside of practice and during the offseason is a game changer for coaches and their programs. With Coach HQ, coaches can assign player workouts and track results even when they are not together as a team. That impacts player commitment and accountability, and it ultimately influences what teams are able to achieve on the court.
Ballogy brings easy-to-use and accessible innovation to coaches everywhere to help them build upon the success of their players and programs, while continuing to inspire athletic growth and development in youth and amateur athletes.
A complete sensory performance assessment and training solution, the Sensory Station is designed primarily for use in sports training facilities. In 25 minutes, the Sensory Station can assess an individual on 10 visual and sensorimotor skills. The assessment immediately provides a report comparing the individual to other players and professional athletes. The report reveals the player’s sensory strengths and areas for improvement, helping to develop a custom program for improvement using training tools and drills on the Sensory Station.
Senaptec is the only known automated vision therapy solution on the market and aims to improve sensory processing. Its technology is based on more than 30 years of university-based performance research and clinical services provided to athletes at all levels of competition across most sports.
The Sensory Station is the perfect partner to traditional physical training. Senaptec products help force the brain to see in greater detail and provide better movement, balance and reaction time. This technology directly improves baseline performance for athletes so they can sense sharper, process faster and react quicker. This gives athletes that extra edge so they can perform at their best using their entire body.
Powerhandz designs and markets technology that helps athletic performance and improves outcomes in the rehabilitation process for any upper extremity injury.
Powerhandz’s portfolio includes a collection of patented weighted gloves that are used for performance training in multiple sports — basketball, football, baseball, boxing/MMA and fitness. The gloves are designed with weight on the top side of the hands with a grip or anti-grip material on the palm. These gloves improve speed, ball handling, efficiency of the kinetic chain and overall performance.
In addition to the weighted glove collection, Powerhandz has products that assist with skill development and performance, including its full-resistance weighted Powersuit. It’s made with unique fabric that includes 1.25 pounds woven directly into the material on each side of the chest, upper back, shoulders, and 2.5 pounds wrapped around each thigh. It helps develop core strength and forces the muscles to work harder.
The Powerhandz portfolio can be integrated into the entire athletic program for multiple sports. The goal is to increase hand speed, strength and conditioning, agility, dexterity, and overall performance.
Light Helmets takes the best materials, technology and manufacturing techniques from aviation, professional auto racing and the military to build a superior helmet. The helmet absorbs impact better, is lighter weight, can be resized, and does not have a high failure/replacement rate when it needs to be refurbished.
The cost of the LS1 is less than competitive helmets. It’s a simple and robust design, so maintenance and the number of parts needed to keep the LS1 on the field is lower than traditional plastic and metal helmets. Light Helmets started with a composite shell that incorporates Kevlar, Armor Foam liner, chromoly facemask, and auxetic foam from Auxadyne, which won the NFL’s Head Health Tech VI Challenge. It’s the lightest helmet to receive a five-star rating from the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab.
Depending on the model and configuration, the LS1 weighs between 2.8 and 3.1 pounds. It’s the first helmet to improve athlete performance by significantly cutting weight to allow the athlete to maximize their speed and agility.
Equipment managers only have to manage a small number of parts, making maintenance simpler and faster.
The Q-Collar is a revolutionary device that helps protect the brain from sports-related impacts. It’s an innovative option for athletes — and their parents, coaches and trainers — who are concerned with brain injury in contact sports like football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and rugby. It’s fitted and worn around the neck and can be used with other protective sports equipment.
Q-Collar’s inventors looked for ways to help protect the brain from the inside, recognizing there’s only so much helmets can do to protect against injury caused by movement of the brain inside the skull upon impact. The Q-Collar works by applying light pressure to the neck, which in turn mildly increases blood volume inside the skull. That reduces the ability of the brain to “slosh” or move around when exposed to sports-related head impacts.
The Q-Collar is an innovative way for coaches, trainers and athletic directors to help protect their athletes from brain injuries caused by sports-related impacts. It has undergone extensive clinical research over the past six years with more than 500 high school level athletes in sports like football, hockey and soccer.
The Q-Collar is currently available only to residents of Canada.