It’s a great day in sports analytics! Have you ever thought about using computational simulation to analyze and improve sports performance? Today, we will introduce you to the sports technology and tell you how it can improve performances.
More than 10 years ago, Honeywell’s aerospace engineer, Barry Bixler, thought of joining aerospace simulation with sports and used Fluid Dynamics in his spare time to analyze the flow pattern around the arms of swimmers.
The swimming teams perceived the potential of the Bixler’s studies and began to apply their recommendations to improve the performance of the athletes.
Since then, computational simulation has been gaining ground and is gradually applied in different ways in sports to improve athletes’ performance, ensure comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This happens because the simulation allows predicting the behavior of a device, an athlete or a system that involves the athlete, devices and sports equipment under certain conditions.
Simulation in Sport
To be able to predict the behavior of these models, the simulation technology solves fundamental equations, such as conservation of mass, conservation of energy, Newton’s second law or Hooke’s law of elasticity to calculate magnitudes as speed, pressure, tension, deformation etc. Even the simplest models can provide interesting information about a system made up of the athlete, the equipment and the environment that surrounds them.
Through computer-based modeling, it is possible to determine and understand how parameters can impact sports performance and minimize or amplify an injury. Analyzing and foreseeing the consequences of these modifications means that sports team designers can better select the set of parameters to optimize performance and reduce the risk of injury. In addition to this, manufacturers can quickly launch improved products to the market and with a lower development cost.
The Value of Simulation Engineering in Sport
To better understand what is the importance and impact of these tools in sport, the report, “Dramatic Changes in Sports: The Contribution of Engineering Simulation” indicates how three different specialists focus on contributions that computer simulation made and can do in what refers to the most varied sports, whether high performance or not.
In order to make these computational models more and more realistic, there is a tendency to create and test more complex models and predict their behavior. New capacities are also added to interpret the environment, increase the fidelity of the models and incorporate combinations based on a system composed of the athlete, the product and the environment.
The simulation is already applied – occasionally and sometimes systematically – in different sports and has brought significant achievements in either performance or comfort. It also allows analysis of isolated products as well as complex and complete systems, taking the simulation to a deeper and more detailed study. This is important in the case of cycling, where the two main performance parameters of the athlete are aerodynamics and weight.
The reduction of the weight of the bicycle can be achieved, without compromising aerodynamic resistance, by means of variations in the geometry of the different components and the use of new materials, such as composites. In addition, the position, the comfort of the athlete and the format of the components of the bicycle are decisive for a good performance. However, it is important to note that to improve overall performance, in addition to optimizing each subsystem, it is important to understand that the final result depends on the interaction of the entire system, therefore, the performance of the system as a whole is essential, instead of optimizing each component in isolation.
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