Professional athletes and their coaches have used technology for years to monitor players’ physical performance in an effort to improve their games and reduce injuries. With a new focus on spiraling injury rates in school-aged athletes, however, these technologies are increasingly showing up on fields where high school athletes play.
The Fit For 90 application was launched in 2013 by John Cone, former assistant coach with Major League Soccer club Sporting KC and director of sports science with the Portland Timbers. Fit For 90, which is currently customized for soccer, aims to reduce player injury by allowing coaches and trainers to identify early signs of fatigue, stress or under-recovery specific to each player to help keep them on the field. It provides coaches with customized alerts about player readiness, muscle soreness and training load. Many of the professional sports team that report using the Fit For 90 application say it has radically reduced some of the most common injuries that plague soccer players, including ACL tears.
Last fall, Fit For 90 released a player application specifically tailored for the parents of young athletes. The app is also being used by high school coaches. Arizona’s Cronkite News recently profiled the Texas Rush Soccer Club, which uses Fit For 90 to combat the rash of injuries on the team. The team’s coach, Dave Dengerink, told Cronkite News that it has made a huge difference in the number of injuries experienced by team members.
“This same group of girls I’m coaching last year had seven major injuries,” Dengerink said. “By major injuries, I’ll say an ACL tear or anything that has kept you out at least nine months. Since the implementation of (technology), I’ve had one.”
Cone told Cronkite News that his solution is just as applicable to youth as to the pros.
“We developed a monitoring system so we could track each individual within the team, so we’d be more aware of problems with each player,” he said. “While we’re simultaneously delivering that system to professional teams and college teams, we’re also delivering it to youth teams.”
Sporting KC isn’t the only youth club to adopt Fit For 90. Early last year, the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), a premier female youth soccer academy in the U.S., entered into a partnership with Fit For 90. Ultimately, Cone says he wants to branch the application into other sports, including basketball, lacrosse, ice hockey and volleyball. The company may have to contend with issues of affordability if it wants to branch out in youth sports, however. In Arizona, youth soccer teams are wary of the expense, according to Cronkite News’ Mario Kalo.
“Cone said the system currently costs about $2,000 per year for each club, but that discounts of 40 to 50 percent are available, depending on the length of time the interface is used and how many partner clubs agree to begin implementing the technology,” wrote Kalo.