VICTORIA, BC – As the sports world adapts to new technology and gains access to new information, the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific (CSI Pacific) is working to develop ways in which athletes and coaches can use these advancements to improve the way they train and perform.
At CSI Pacific, Samantha Ebata leads a Performance Analysis department that includes three unique types of specialists: Biomechanists, Performance Analysts, and Technologists.
A Biomechanist is someone who uses their knowledge of physics and applies it to the human body. They look closely at technical movements, movement efficacy, and injury prevention. Performance Analysts, on the other hand, traditionally have a mathematics background. They track everything that happens in the daily training environment, athlete behavior, and competition statistics, before analyzing it, entering it into a database, and modeling it. Technologists, meanwhile, research up-and-coming technology and find ways it can be integrated into the daily training environment and competition.
“We don’t tend to go through things directly with the athletes; we tend to go through things with the coach,” explained Ebata when asked about the responsibilities her department has. “Our goal is to inform the coaches of what they’re doing and give them evidence-based feedback on what their coaching style is. Then they can use that to direct their coaching with the athletes.”
Whether it is Victoria, Richmond or Whistler, the Performance Analysis team is able to take advantage of the valuable resources CSI Pacific has in order to give coaches a better understanding of their athletes.
“We have some state of the art equipment and a force-instrumented treadmill that not many institutions have,” explained Ebata, who works closely with freestyle skiing, as well as a variety of other sports. “We have access to some of the best equipment and software in the world. Technology like 3D motion capture cameras are the gold standard in motion analysis.”
Having the equipment is essential to performance analysis, but another important part is having someone that is open to a new perspective. One the tasks of working in the growing field is trying to teach established coaches new systems and ways of understanding their sport.
“It is definitely a challenge getting your foot in the door. With analytics being very numbers-based, and a lot of coaches not necessarily having that background, they tend to be very wary of it,” said Ebata. “[Especially] if it is counterintuitive to their coaching.
“It becomes easier if you can show them it in a positive light and you have a good working relationship. It is just about finding that right path.”
Once the coaches are on board, Ebata and her team also face the challenge of making sure sport organizations understand the technology they are using, as well as certifying that it is acceptable within competition settings.
“With all the new technologies, one of the challenges is getting everything approved,” noted Ebata. “We have to be diligent, especially when using wireless equipment, that we are compliant with Rio standards.”
As the world turns its attention to Brazil and the Rio 2016 Olympics in a few weeks, CSI Pacific’s Performance Analysis team will ensure that Team Canada is prepared with the best information and technology available, in order to give them a cutting edge advantage on the international stage this summer.
The Rio 2016 Olympics begin on Friday, August 5, followed by the Paralympics on Wednesday, September 7. Follow along with CSI Pacific on Facebook and Twitter for news and information about BC-based athletes competing at the games.