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Helping your child excel in competitive sports is hard work! On top of the substantial time commitment, there’s so much that needs to be done in order to ensure that your athlete is safe, healthy and ready-to-go for training camps and sometimes twice-daily practices. Adding one more thing to think about can put any busy sports parent over the edge.
So is the rise in popularity of Wearable tech, the umbrella term used for athletic-wear that provides tracking information to help athletes perform at their post optimal level, something you need to pay attention to or is it just hype?
Take, for example, the most sophisticated of wearable tech items, the just-released Under Armour HealthBox. The most comprehensive health and fitness system on the market, it aggregates information from a wristband, heart monitor, and scale and connects with the UA Record app to show athletes exactly where they are improving, and where improvements need to be made.
Is this truly a must-have for your budding star athlete? We talked to an elite hockey player and NHL coach to get real answers on how wearable tech can help young athletes.
“Wearable technology, for me, has become standard practice”, says Kelly Terry, current CWHL player and 2018 Canadian Women’s Hockey Olympic Team hopeful. “When I was younger, I always understood that training was important, and that giving your all in practice was essential, but it took me a lot longer to understand that your recovery is as important as your practice.”
In fact, young athletes are notorious for giving it their all on the field or ice, and then practicing poor recovery habits. Terry adds, “When I put on a heart rate monitor all day, it surprised me how much I did and made me recognize the importance of recovery, sleep and nutrition after a hard day.” Terry wishes she could have learned earlier in her sports career how well rounded you have to be. “If you are missing certain key aspects you are not going to recover or perform as well.” For Terry, wearable tech is essential for young athletes looking to take it the next level
The Under Armour HealthBox connects with the UA Record app, a dashboard for your health and fitness, where you can see detailed daily information and trends over time for how you sleep, your activity throughout the day, and your workouts. It also helps athletes track what they eat by hooking up to the MyFitnessPal nutrition app. “Athletes who use wearable tech usually come out with better results, even with a great trainer”, Mark Fitzgerald, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Anaheim Ducks said. The data that trainers can get from these applications is immense, and allows them to create better programs for athletes.
By using wearable tech, like the Under Armour HealthBox, you can find out how unique everyone is. “If one guy's heart rate is high compared to everyone else throughout the whole practice, you can adjust accordingly. It helps avoid safety issues and you can find out if athletes are pushing too hard. Using technology during training goes to show how individual fitness is, and if you can pull apart what exactly is going on in an athlete’s body, that’s huge for me, that could make all the difference.”
“The great thing about the UA HealthBox,” says Fitzgerald, “is that it connects everything about your health and fitness into one integrated hub. This isn’t for someone who’s in the market for a quick fix. Training no matter what age is about progression.” The great thing about wearable tech for young athletes is it allows them to track their progress and form good habits that show up in real time. “You're going to work hard and some days won't be fun. It’s a great way for keeping kids accountable and makes it easy for them to see the more you put in, the more you get out.”
Pictured: Kelly Terry
With wearable tech becoming an industry standard, it looks like the trend is here to stay. Kelly Terry, who first started using wearable trackers in 2010, says it’s now a must for athletes she knows; “in the last few years I’ve seen it go crazy, everyone’s got something on their wrist and everyone’s really paying attention to it.” “For me, I always had amazing trainers helping me perform my best, but some people don’t have access to that. This is a great way to get going on reaching your goals early so that kids can perform at their very best,” says Terry.
According to Fitzgerald, Under Armour is committed to wearable tech. “Under Armour is in it for the long haul and are at the forefront of figuring out what more information can we give so that everyone can be an athlete in their own way and be the best version of themself.”