The Dallas Mavericks, with the advent of in-game GPS devices that tracks a player's every twitch and movement, are already gleaning the last scraps of data available to measure on-court performance. Now it's onto the next frontier: watching players while they sleep.
The term of art that's been coined for the endeavor is "fatigue analysis," a way of improving athletic performance by studying sleep patterns. As NBA.com's Jeff Caplan reported last week, the Mavs will do this by equipping players with wristwatch-type devices called Readibands.
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The watches will tell when the players are sleeping, and for how long and how deeply they're doing so. The collected data will quantify how fatigue from training, competing, travel, time-zone adjustments and other variables affect multiple aspects of game-day performance such as reaction time and readiness. The goal is for the Mavericks' coaches and trainers to pinpoint the causes of fatigue, both team-wide and individually, and adjust travel schedules and training regimens to ensure players get proper sleep.
Fatigue Science, the company that makes the Readiband, is relatively new to professional sports, having been founded with an eye on reducing accidents in high-risk industries like mining and aviation. The NHL's Vancouver Canucks began using the technology in 2009, and Fatigue Science quickly seized upon professional sports as a new market.
The next step for the Mavs, who now know more about their players than the players know about themselves, is to get rid of the wristwatches, which are cumbersome and can be easily removed. Easier and more efficient to just implant a chip directly into the brain.