Don’t Be Scientific; Be Understood

By Sparta Science

February 26, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I found myself down in Atlanta, GA working with a private performance facility where they will be adding the Sparta force technology and analysis piece to an already stellar setup. With only one day to spend there in Atlanta, the plan was to go in and onboard and educate the team, test athletes who already train at the facility, and then spend the day assessing anyone who walked through the doors.

The day was a massive success. While at dinner later that evening I was reflecting on how much was accomplished in just hours working with passionate practitioners. The owners and operators of the facility woke up knowing what Sparta Science was, but by the end of the morning they could put athletes through the assessments, explain exactly what the variables meant, and even provide training implications based off the data. It had me thinking...

Can you explain your assessment to a parent in a simple way, in a few minutes? But, also...

Can you give training recommendations based on that assessment so that all parties understand why?

Families were coming in to have their youth athlete assessed on the force plate. Within minutes we would be finished with the Jump Scan, and then I would not only explain the results to the athlete, but also to mom and dad - which is pretty cool when you think about it. Being able to break down the results of the jump to someone that has no background in training or kinematics is unique. And as the saying goes:

“If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.” - Albert Einstein

The Power of Data

What makes this explanation possible is the large aggregate database where we have been able to see movement trends over the last decade with over 100 organizations. With almost 900,000 force trials and over 7,000 injuries, the AI software can breakdown how the individual compares to others in their sport and gender, and what they can do to improve. Looking back on my injury-ridden youth, I would have jumped at the opportunity (see what I did there) to see what my glaring weaknesses were - NOT continue to follow the “one size fits all” approach.

The power of a database is demonstrated when the same standardized assessment is performed frequently across dozens of organizations with athletes of all shapes, sizes and movement patterns.  The most important thing this allows us to do is to identify “norms.” When you go to the doctor to get blood work done, the results are interpreted based on where the patient’s numbers lie compared to the norms.  Is the white blood cell count high or low? What are the inherent risks with a low white blood cell count? What is the ideal range? Without this context, the test doesn’t mean much.

For example: Running Back “A” has a concentric impulse of 5.39724N*s/kg. To most people, this number doesn’t mean anything, but when you have a context into norms, you can see this would be considered normal for a running back. But just because he is normal for his population, that doesn’t mean it is ideal.  When we compare him to the athletic population, he is in an extremely low range, and we can see that he has increased odds of suffering a muscular strain. That meaningful insight only comes to light when we compare him to all of his athletic peers, not just people that play his sport or position.

Raw numbers and data points sound fun, but if you can’t understand it yourself, then how can you even begin to explain it to someone else like an athlete or parent? Using the power of the database, we can clearly identify and explain necessary interventions personalized for that individual. Data is meaningless without the actual ability to interpret it, to protect the most valuable resource we have on this planet - TIME.

If you enjoyed this article be sure to check these out:

Why More Data Isn’t Always Better

The Power of a Database

Why the Force Plate Does Not Matter

Wake Forest Men’s Basketball Extends Contract with Sparta

Partnership Puts Rockies at Forefront of Training Science

How the Seattle Mariners Involve their Players in the Ongoing Development of their High Performance Model