Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The Miami Dolphins are doing everything they can to get an advantage over the rest of the teams in the NFL. Their latest project? Turning to sports science to get all of the data possible on every player on the roster. Every day, members of the coaching staff loads a GPS unit into each player's equipment for the day. After practice, the strength and conditioning coaches along with the team's sports science analyst, Dave Regan, download the data that was tracked during practice. This includes velocity, acceleration, load or stress, distance, lift rate, metabolic power, output, and wattage.
The main reason for this? The team is trying to limit injuries, limit the stress of players' bodies, predict injuries and reduce healing time when a player does in fact get injured.
“It’s kind of getting to that point, and we’d like to come up with a prediction model to prevent injuries,” Darren Krein, strength and conditioning coach, said. “That’s the thought process behind it. If you understand what happens prior to an injury, generally it’s from volume — too much volume. If that’s it, hopefully we can pull a guy back before he gets to that point. We try to adjust our practice based on what we know. It’s a comprehensive way of getting more information on the players. Getting a better understanding about what the stresses of practice are."
“We haven’t got it all figured out,” Dave Puloka, assistant strength and conditioning coach, said. “We’re still in the early stages. But we’ve got some very smart people in the building that are helping us with the data. We know we’re going in the right direction. We’re making strides every day. But it’s probably going to take a little bit before we get to it because essentially what we’re trying to do is predict injuries. We’re not there yet.”
As far as whether or not sports science will help them win on the field?
“I think it definitely can help you win but at the end of the day it really boils down to having the right players and execution,” Krein said. “For us it’s a tool in the toolbox. It’s not going to make or break us, but it gives us the opportunity to maybe get that little extra five percent or two percent out of guys that you’re hoping for.”