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SportsMechanist is a project inspired by my coaching career. In elite sports we are always looking for improvements and in athletics these improvements are either of physical or technical nature - I’ll come back to that. I prefer to root my coaching decisions on objective criteria, whether its for planning a strength program or deciding how to change an athletes technique. For physical qualities there exists a plethora of options for doing this whether the outcome is strength, power, velocity, endurance - the gadgets are there, they’re relatively cheap and they are universal between sports. Foundation laid when it comes to planning for physical qualities.
However, technical ability is much harder to quantify. An much more so when you compete in a niche sport. Are you a golfer, a baseball player, or a long distance runner, then you’re covered - but when you’re not the only option is qualitative assessment, relying on the coaches eye. And don’t get me wrong: Coaches are good at this! It’s what they do. But just as technology changed our way of planning physical training, so it has the potential to do so in the sphere of technique. Until now, in order to obtain relevant kinematic data in athletics you have to compete at the World Championships Final, partake in a scientific study or perhaps you’re lucky enough to have access to the German Olympiastützpunkte - and most athletes are not.
And there you have the need that forced me to develop a solution. The premise is simple: Coaches are not programmers or technicians, and shouldn’t have to be. They should be great coaches! So I wanted to make it easy and accessible: Record a video from a single camera and have it analysed.
So I set out to write some software which could calculate all the relevant numbers and output them in a readable format to assure it becomes a valuable tool. After 100’s of hours that project is now reality - it is not the end point yet though. It still needs me or a collegue to do a few hours of work before the report is done, something which I hope to eliminate. Ultimately, probably years out in the future I hope this could become an affordable solution to get quantitative feedback between or even during training sessions, perhaps even an app-based solution - but even now, I’m very proud of what it has become.
If you think this sounds like a cool project (which I really think it is!) you can follow it at sportsmechanist.com.