New ways to coach

 

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Technology and informatics don’t only provide a good platform for sporters, but also for their coaches. It provides them with options to review and analyse their athletes more carefully.

According to this article, a vital element in improving your technique is instant feedback. This way the exercise is still fresh in your mind while reviewing your movements. You get a better understanding of what you did wrong and can try again right away. Videocamera’s already provided that option for years, but it wasn’t instant enough. Your coach needed to process the video in some kind of editing tool or buy an awful lot of (expensive) equipment. Conclusion, the player got the tips or corrections too late and would often make the same mistake again next practice.

However nowadays every tablet or smartphone has an onboard camera. Editing tools are redundant because of the processing power of the tablets itself. You can easily review and make notations on the tablet itself. Slowmotion playback and comparing of two video’s at the same time are some of the many feature that become instantly available. They give a few tips and examples of how you could implement such technology in your own training sessions:

  • Preload the iPad with good examples of the technique you are going to coach and use it as a visual cue for players.
  • Use the iPad to film individual performance and then play back instantly to highlight strengths and weaknesses.
  • Analyse a filmed performance with arrows, lines, text etc to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Compare and contrast a young player’s performance to one of a professional.
  • Allow the players themselves to film and analyse one another, creating peer coaching.

Coaches and players can build on this new technology and work together to improve scores. The beauty of these new developments in my opinion is that they work together with the users. It is an addition rather than a replacement of a real coach. Human interpretation and assessment are still an advantage.

Nomophobia

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Nomophobia, the fear of not having your mobile phone with you. Apparently a lot of people suffer from it nowadays. With all these great apps and features our smartphones has, it has become hard to live without it.

Time magazine did a study about this with 5000 participants. (Americans, Britons, South Koreans, Chinese, Indians, South Africans, Indonesians, and Brazilians) Results were pretty shocking:

  • 84 percent said they couldn’t survive a day without their cellphones.
  • 50 percent of Americans sleep with their phone right next to them.
  • 20 percent said they check their phone every 10 minutes.

Another study confirmed these findings, and had some interesting ones to add. Facts concerning where we use our phones.

  • Apparently nearly 40 percent use their phones on while sitting on the toilet.
  • 30 percent confessed they check their phones while having a meal with others.
  • Although very dangerous, 24 percent said they check their phones while driving.

These studies make you think. Are we using our phones to much? It sure seems that we are addicted. But who’s to blame for all this? Is it our own fault or are the app developers tricking us so they can make a lot of profit? It think it’s a bit of both. There are great apps out there that really can improve our lives. However moderation is key. We don’t need an app for everything. Also a good app can work autonomously and don’t need a user to check on it every 10 minutes. If it does, I think it is likely that it is just an app to make someone rich rather than make your live easier.

I wouldn’t say I am addicted to my phone. I could live without it for a day, maybe even a week. But I sure feel that some features can make you dependent off your phone. How do you guys experience this? Are you addicted to your phone?

 

Gamification in sports

One might think that sports are already games on their own. However they can still be gamificated. In following article they explain how skiing can be improved by gamification.

With the use of EpicMix you can keep track of how many kilometers you have skied, see where your family or friends are and compete with your friends for points and badges. Also part of the service are the photographers that are present at the mountains where this system is implemented. By scanning your badge photo’s are uploaded to your profile and even your twitter or Facebook account if you like. This leaves you with doing what you like without the hassle of bringing a camera. This brings you a richer experience. You can come home and you know exactly where you have been or how far you have skied. Even better, you have the pictures to prove it.

Just like this example there are also other sports where this techniques can be applied. In the article they explain which elements should be present to get the desired effect of grabbing people’s attention. For the full list you can check the article, but the basic idea is that you build up some kind of point/reward system.

Once you understand this system people can implement it in their own creations. People without coding capabilities still can use this system to improve their lifestyle. That is the beauty of the technique. If you award yourself with “bonus” points if you do something good or health, you get encouraged to make better choices. The only question maybe is how many point you would award to which activity/choice. If you are not objective enough the grading can get deformed.

Would any of you apply these techniques in your own live? Or would you rather wait until someone makes an app for it? Are there maybe some of you that don’t believe that gamification works?

To walk again

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Technology not only offers new options for sporters, also people with a physical disability can benefit from the latest evolutions.

In an article on digitaljournal.com they talk with a pediatric physical therapist, Mahir Reiss about the evolution his field has made. According to him technology has shortened healing time, increased comfort during treatment, en improved overall quality and options of care. Some technologies are not introduced yet, but some of them are talking baby steps into the real world.

He start of with mentioning that aquatic therapy, one of the most common therapies these days, has improved a lot since its first introduction. They now can control the heating and circulation more accurately making the treatment easier and more comfortable. Treatment can be more specific and accurate this way.

One of the most exciting new technologies that is being introduced more and more nowadays are the so called “exoskeletons”. They still are pretty costly but can give us a view on what the future might bring us. An example of this is the Ekso Suit. It is a suit that enables people with a physical disability to talk their first steps. It’s even built to support this transition with a few modes. “FirstStep”, allows the therapist to initiate the step to train the new user and make them custom to the new environment. In “ActiveStep”, the user gets the opportunity to initiate step himself with the push of a button. The final mode “ProStep”, senses when the user wants to take a step and takes the step for him.

Last but not least Mahir Reiss believes that social media also has an influence on physical therapy. It makes the gap between patients and therapists a lot smaller. It is easier for the therapist to keep updated on the a patient’s condition and offer suggestions or answer questions or concerns. It makes the communication a lot more open. People (and certainly children) feel more at comfortable.

Technology certainly can provide some fascination solutions for people with a disability. Being able to walk after years of riding in a wheelchair would be a dream that comes true for a lot of disabled persons.

Using technology to promote physical activity.

This blogpost is about an article “Using technology to promote physical activity” that I found on humankinetics.com. It is a part of a book “Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription, Sixth Edition“, by Vivian Heyward. In this article they talk about how and more specific which kind of technology can convince people to be more active.

First of all they mention a few regular technologies, like pedometer, accelerometer, heart rate monitor, gps and geographic information system. These technologies exist for quite some time now. Everybody knows what they can do. However they keep improving and keep getting cheaper. This means they start to appear everywhere. In our mobile phones, watches,… According to the author this only benefits the measurement. Because if you can combine these measurements they are a lot  more accurate.

Another “technology” she mentions benefits from this evolution. The interactive video games. They use these sensors and incorporate them in video games. Although they are never as good as real physical activities (sports), they can be an encouragement to start with physical exercises. They are far less scary because of there playful character. And they are doing much better than the sedentary computer games a lot of people are exposed to. This is also called persuasive technology, technology that tries to adapt our behavior without us knowing it.

I like this kind of evolution in our society, it encourages everyone to keep active instead of making our lives to easy by doing everything for us. However it could still end up bad. If people think they can get away with only playing on the wii, they still will live unhealthy. I think it could be a good starting point or extra next to “real” sports. Only in some cases where people aren’t able to sport (like elderly people or people with an injury) it could be a solution. I more believe in bringing the sensors in a outdoor situation. Use these technologies to record and track how someone is performing. I foresee a great future in these applications. If they keep privacy of all these logged info in mind of course.

Technology in Sport – Is it cheating?

Today I have found an interesting question raised by Professor Steve Haake. He poses the question whether technology in sports can be considered as cheating.

He explains that there are different factors that influence the score of an athlete. Globalization used to have a great impact. By this we mean: population growth, nutrition, coaching, professionalization,… These factors have spread around the globe, when one coach finds new techniques they are been copied by other coaches in no time. In our times with internet and camera’s everywhere, it is hard to do something revolutionary without everyone noticing.

With this in mind one can notice that sport results are getting closer to a limit. A limit of what is “humanly possible”. For example I think it is safe to say that people will never be able to run a marathon in 5minutes. So the future for sports isn’t looking bright if we look at it from this perspective. National/world records will become scarce. This could not only become demotivating for the athletes but also pretty boring for the spectators.

Then what about technology? It is no secret that technology enhances sport performance. But whether or not it is considered cheating all depends on what the rules are. Rules are not as static as you might think. They need to evolve together with the new technologies. Acceptance the technology depends for example on whether or not the technology is accessible for everyone equally.

So is technology cheating ? In my opinion not. As long as the rules are adapted. There needs to be a balance between keeping the sport interesting and challenging and at the same time give all the competitors a fair chance. In some way you could say that technology will determine the future of sports.

Security and privacy

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But what about security and privacy ?

I found an article on “The Verge” where they introduce the blackphone. It is an Android phone, well at least an adapted version of it. They tried to improve the poor privacy characteristics that Android has. In some way they succeed, by offering the user more control over what a specific app can access. It also features apps where you can make encrypted phone calls or send encrypted text messages. However this can only be done between the special app or between blackphone. For this service you even need to pay. This certainly limits the applicability. Will users even bother to use such an app.

But the idea of a smarphone that needed to be specifically designed for privacy scares me a bit. Why aren’t all smartphones more careful with our privacy. It seems that all these benefits of smartphones come with a cost. A great cost! The fact that governments and authorities spy on people is one thing. We protest vigorously every time such a scandal meets the light. But those actions can still somehow be related to national security. On the other hand when apps (and therefore companies) spy on our actions or log our personal information we seem to be okay with it? It seems that we accept that this is a consequence of using the app. Or are we not aware of what companies can and will do with our information?

So maybe it is not such a great idea to put all your daily activities or habits inside an app. At least not until privacy on smartphones is rethought.

Health apps

As yanickvanhoeymissen2014 stated sport is not enough to live healthy, you also need to look out what you eat. 

 has posted some studies about research of our habits and influence by advertisement. But what can we do for ourselves? I’ve been looking for some health apps.

With these apps you can keep track of what you eat during the day and adjust/control your eating pattern.

These apps have become so popular that even the British National Health Service (NHS) devoted a whole website to these apps. ( the NHS Health apps library )

Even they can’t deny the benefits for some of these apps. They  want to give everyone an idea what great apps are out there. Categorized by relevance. 

I think that some of these apps can definitely improve your eating pattern simply by making you aware of what you eat and when. You get an overview of how many calories you have eaten, or how many you still can eat that day. 

I’ve also found a really interesting app myself, Fooducate. It is a library of food and drinks where you can look up how many calories, fat, sugar,… all the nutritious facts. Nothing really new there, al lot of apps have a database similar like this one. But the nice added bonus here is that it fully integrated with a “social environment”, people can comment about the products, what they like/dislike. This translates to a percentage of user that like/dislike the product. In this way you not only know its health but also delicious. The product also gets a label ranging from D, D+, C-,… all the way to A. This is based on an algorithm build on the nutritious facts. It even makes a difference between minimally processed, “real” food and processed (with a lot of additives) food. Unfortunately this app is not yet available in Europe, only in the american app store. I’m eager to test it so i’m looking forward to it being released here.  

The Mental Benefits of Sports

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So maybe it is time to talk about why we should start sporting. We all know about the physical benefits. But what about other factors? In the article mentioned below they talk about mental benefits.

There are 5 major benefits.

Improve Mood: 

Physical activity should release brain chemicals which have a positive influence on our mood. Team sports not only provide a challenge to improve your fitness, but they can provide social benefits because you can connect with teammates and friends in a recreational way.

 Improve Concentration:

Sporting three to five times a week for at least 30minutes can be enough to keep your thinking, learning and judgement sharp.

Reduce Stress and Depression: 

While reducing stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), exercise makes us produce more endorphins. It helps you cope with stress and depression, and makes you feel more relaxed.

 Improve Sleep:

Regular exercise improves your sleeping pattern. You sleep faster and deeper. Which again helps improve your mood.

Boost Self-Confidence:

When you are working hard to get better results or improve your scores, you are building on your self-esteem. Especially when all this hard work pays off. You are proud of what you have achieved and feel in control. You feel like you can take on the world and all of its challenges.

I sure believe that these benefits exist when you exercise or sport regularly. Maybe some of them are a bit hard to measure. Like how can you tell that you have more endorphins in your body? From personal experience I can tell that sport really can reduce stress, it gives me a way to escape all responsibilities and deadlines for a moment.

Article:

http://www.healthline.com/health/mental-benefits-sports

Factors that make a smartphone a useful tool in a healthy lifestyle.

Behavior Change Infographic

We found an interesting infographic about how a smartphone can change your behavior to improve your health.

Infographic can be found here.

It clearly states that smartphone apps can help us in various ways. Mainly because of its mobile character, but also because it is fully customizable and can log your status in real time.

So according to the paper this infographic is based on (“Designing an Effective Behavior-Change Platform”), an app can help you improve and keep track of your health. A good app in this area can maintain your attention, which motivates you and reminds you to keep a healthy lifestyle. A part of this motivation comes from a progress overview that is embedded in most apps.

There are a lot of apps that pursue that goal. There are apps for running, counting steps, counting your food calories, track your sleep pattern, …

After testing a few of these ourselves, we are convinced that this has a big influence on our motivation and our choices during the day. We are more likely to: take stairs in stead of an elevator, go for a run more often, pay attention to what we eat, etc…

What do you think about this?