The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to revolutionize the way professional sports teams manage players. Already, teams are collecting and analyzing data from wearable devices and using it to make improvements in player performance, health and safety. As more teams recognize the potential of IoT for player management and performance, the market will grow. In fact, the sports analytics and player tracking market is expected to reach $15.5 billion by 2023, according to a recent report from Wintergreen Research, Inc.

Wearable devices and sensors will soon make it possible for coaches and managers to interact with players more effectually, both on and off the field. But to get the most out of their IoT infrastructure, organizations must also connect it to the right unified communications technology. After all, why invest in collecting information if you can’t effectively use it? Unified communications ensures the data gathered by IoT infrastructures is delivered, analyzed and leveraged to the fullest by giving machines a voice.

The investment will be worth it: The combination of these technologies will enable sports organizations to take player management to a new level. Consider the following opportunities.

The Internet of Things improves player and team play

In the past, coaches could only assess a player’s health by viewing performance from the sidelines. But new technology allows them to monitor an athlete’s physical data precisely and in real time. For example, devices such as shoulder pad sensors, smart fabrics and wearables are capable of capturing a player’s heart rate, pulse, muscle activation and movement. Helmet cameras provide coaches with an on-field view of game and practice plays.

With all this data streamed live to their smartphone or tablet via an app, coaches are able to provide athletes with real-time feedback and immediately adjust the intensity and focus of workouts. Then, post-game or practice, they can take a deeper dive to measure player performance and develop more advanced game strategies because all the data collected by IoT sensors can be assessed in one place.

Sensors and wearables enhance player safety

No sports team is immune from the risk of injury, but sensors and wearable devices offer promising protections. For example, a smart helmet will measure the force of impact when a player gets hit or falls. Another, more precise method of detecting concussions is in development: the smart mouthguard. Helmets move, but teeth provide a better connection to the skull. 

With such devices, the coach and medical personnel instantly receive data about the impact when a player gets hit. They can decide on the spot whether the athlete can safely continue to play or should come off the field for medical attention. Or, if the sensors detect impact beyond a set threshold, they can even have a coach’s phone generate an automated call to the closest hospital as an added safety measure. In addition, data from smart insoles and other IoT sensors can be sent to trainers and physical therapists’ smartphones to help prevent injuries before they happen, and to speed up recovery when they do.

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IoT data ensures better player health

The health of athletes is critically important for professional sports teams, who want their players at peak form at all times. Wearables help athletes monitor their own health. For example, smartwatches capture resting heart rate and health apps track nutritional data. Meanwhile, adhesive sensors monitor functions such as hydration levels and can send a push notification to a player’s device to notify them immediately if they exceed a predetermined dehydration threshold.

Coaches, trainers and team nutritionists also use this data to develop a holistic picture of athlete health so they can personalize training programs.  Collecting and storing the data via unified communications and collaboration tools enable them to develop optimal workout and dietary plans that take into account numerous variables, including game days, training sessions, rest days and even off-season activities.

How IoT and UC work together to deliver results

As more athletes and sports teams use communications-enabled IoT technology, they’ll respond more quickly and appropriately to injuries. Holistic health monitoring will reduce injuries and keep players performing at their best when the team needs them most.

To take full advantage of the Internet of Things, sports organizations must invest in unified communications to ensure fast, secure and reliable transfer of data. Without constant connectivity, wearables and sensors won’t be effective. Thus, a reliable unified communications solution becomes the key factor underpinning IoT initiatives—and a championship season.

Leveraging IoT and UC technology to the fullest can drastically improve athlete performance. Our white paper walks you through how to get started. >

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