Seeing Is… Starting… To Believe (Video Link)


Inside DrillWith one day of the Vector Mouthguards in the book – a lightning shortened one – and a warp speed implementation it was time to get this puppy up and running.

The players had not lost a mouthguard overnight, which is quite amazing because they always seem to lose their other ones, and all were on the chargers overnight. The clock struck 5:30 and it was go-time. The antenna receiver on the sidelines and players not wondering what it was going to feel like, just getting to practice.

As the system fired up the tiny computers in their helmets were reporting to my laptop, one green light after the other, it was working as promised. A few of the mouthguards took a minute to “warm up” with spit, I guess, but when it was time to hit I had nearly all on-line. Of the 40 issued, 32 were communicating with 2 of them on injured personnel (not concussion), we will get more in-depth about that later.

As practice started I did not want to be tethered to the computer so I could do my job as an athletic trainer so I left the base station and went about my business. The way our coach practices is in five-minute segments, flying around. It is high intensity and constant moving on my part to keep a keen eye on where it is needed and on who it is needed. I basically forgot it was over there other than the occasional parent or media asking what that “radar” looking thing was.

At the first water break I stepped over to see the computer and the hits it had captured. I was able to scroll through all the registered hits in about two seconds and only stopped on any that were above 40g. The graph like output of the system makes this a breeze. I also had noted that every hit is time stamped so when there was a hit that I thought should be captured I made note of the time and cross referenced that in the system, and yes they were there.

As the team went to a segment with inside run drill work it happened to be next to my base station for filming purposes. I yelled up to the camera operator and asked if the film time stamps and he said no. Because I had two students with me I was able to hold the tablet and look at that between reps. After every play the screen changed with more impacts; the DL, LB and RB getting the lions share of the notices. I was impressed at the speed and accuracy of the information given to me in real-time. But, one of the LB’s who was delivering the hits on D was also rotating on O as a RB and his mouth guard was not communicating, I was a bit concerned. Was this really going to keep the data in the mouthguard until it was able to communicate, like they promised? Was I going to miss out on some of his hits. And just then…  He was smashed by the defense right to the left earhole. He was none worse for wear but it was a noteworthy hit as the team yelled out due to the collision like all other teams do when that happens. He was just fine and I didn’t even take a step towards him.

As practice progressed all was going well, I was taking notes on times of hits and they all looked good and none that I found concerning in viewing them live or on the data. That’s when I scrolled across a player that had taken the largest hit seen, a 59g insult. I didn’t remember seeing this at all, it was also the biggest hit by far we have seen on the graph. Out of curiosity I walked over and asked him what happened, he said “nothing, I was tackled”. I asked again was it a hard hit or what, to which he said, it was a good pop but it was nothing special. I told him it lit up on my screen and I wondered why it did that. He then told me, “well they threw me to the ground at the end and I bounced off the turf, but I am fine.”

I didn’t see it, I was obscured, I just put it in my back pocket as a note. Until after practice. I looked at our film of the practice to see if I could find a way I could match up the hits, and wouldn’t you know it, the SkyCoach system time stamps. OMG! I had the ability to match hits with the film clips. I could now study and see what a 40g hit was or a 20g hit and in the case of the unwitnessed 59g hit.

This is what I saw (CLICK HERE)

Amazing to me. I can visually see what nearly 60g looks like on a football field and amazing to me that I can verify hits with the video.

This was tempered a bit by not having all Vectors reporting to me at practice. It was time to charge and go home, happy that: 1. all players were relatively healthy, 2. we had a good practice and 3. that I was getting info that I wanted from this system.

On Thursday the wonderful people at i1biometrics scheduled a time to remote in on the computer and figure out what the issues may be and just run a diagnostic health check. I fired up the system in my training room, right next to the locker room where the kids have the charging stations in their lockers. They told me on the charging station they will report to the system, without having to be in the mouth. Yet again something cool and useful that I did not know. The system was grabbing all the kids’ mouthguards as they sat in the locked lockers sending info. Then is when I noticed that the LB/RB that was not reporting to the computer at practice was now reporting to the system.

As this was happening I went to the coaches office and grabbed the iPad with the practice film on it, found the clip of the hit I was lamenting that I missed, and on the Vector screen at that time… The impact of 48g. It did record and it did report to the system. Holy crap, if the players are at an away game that I don’t cover or I forget to charge the base station, or its raining and I can’t get it out, I will still get all the information.

I am starting to believe that this system can provide the things I want to have. Most importantly a second set of eyes, as was the case of the head hitting the ground. Plus the ability to retroactively find out any info that someone may be hiding from me, as was the case with the off-line storage of data.

If that was not enough Day 3 provided even more reason to continue to spread the word and be excited about the Vector system…  To be continued…

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