Oct. 13, 2009
BY DREW EDWARDS
Well before football practice began Tuesday afternoon, Tennessee running back Bryce Brown was working up a sweat inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center.
But Brown and a few of his teammates are the only athletes in the SEC training like this.
Wearing a black body suit with small white spheres attached, Brown went through series of series of agility drills designed to test his body mechanics. All the while a 12 camera motion-capture system - similar to the kind programmers use to create smooth movements for video games - sent data to a laptop on exactly how Brown moves when he's fresh.
And more importantly when he's tired.
"You can't see it with the naked eye," said Tennessee director of sports medicine Jason McVeigh. "Maybe the motion capture films can find something and say when he gets fatigued, this is a certain situation he starts to have. Potentially that could be an issue down the road when they're not using a normal motion pattern when they're fatigued. Obviously, most of what they do is during fatigue. Having them go through the protocols, it's nice to see what they're doing when they're fresh."
The tests, administered by Kansas City-based Dynamic Athletics Research Institute, provided a baseline movement of a healthy athlete and a fatigued athlete. Their proprietary computer program then analyzes the data and provides results about 24-48 hours in most cases.
"We take that information and break it down into numbers," says Patrick Moodie, DARI Sport's lead biomechanist. "We can tell you the time and position. We can tell you the velocities. We can tell you all this kinematic and kinetic data that you just can't see.
"You're going to see this utilized more and more. I think it's important that Tennessee was on the ground floor of this. We're going to be growing together."
Moodie, part of a three-man team in Knoxville, tested about 12 football and men's basketball players over the last two days. McVeigh is anxious to see the results and how they can be applied to help prevent injury or help athletes rehab.
"This is the first year that we've done it, but we're interested in seeing how it goes and seeing the information we get back and see where we would go with it in the future," McVeigh said.
Brown understands the potential gains.
"Everyone understanding how their body works and adjusts to fatigue (is important), and it helps also with training for next year," he said. "They can make sure our bodies are moving the way they're supposed to move. If we get hurt, they know when we're 100 percent and things like that.
"I think it's beneficial for us, and for us to be the only school in the SEC that does it, I think that gives us a bit of an edge down the road. You probably won't see it short term, but long term down the road, I think you'll probably see the effects of it."
For Brown on Tuesday, the end result was being tired.
"I'm good now," he said. "Doing it, I was pretty tired, but that's what it's for. They need you to get tired and fatigued."