Thanks to recent advances in technology, the emerging fields of biomechanics and performance analysis are helping to drive forward sport performance. If the discipline name seems like a mouthful, that is because our biomechanics and performance analysis team encompasses multiple specialists including biomechanists, performance analysts, and technologists. In biomechanics, the analyses focuses more on individual skills, where the techniques are broken down and examined in detail based on knowledge of mechanics and anatomical design of the human body. Performance analysts on the other hand focus on analyzing movement patterns as they relate to tactics and competition strategy. Finally, technologists specialize in integrating technology into the training and competition environment for overall performance enhancement.
At the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), our biomechanics and performance analysis team can be found in the lab or in the field, working closely alongside our coaches and other sport science and sport medicine support team members to ensure a holistic approach to athlete development.
Our biomechanics lab functions as a training, testing, and monitoring space. We utilize equipment such as force plates for tracking athlete training readiness, and motion capture equipment for measuring joint loads during sport-specific movements. For example, over the past several months the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Academy team members have undergone a series of tests to help identify optimal chair configuration for biomechanical health and performance. Each athlete is taken through a series of physical exertion tests on a configurable wheelchair, and their movement is tracked using a custom-built ergometer, wheel-mounted force-sensors, and three dimensional motion tracking system. Thanks to a research grant from Own the Podium and the supportive relationship of Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s High Performance & National Academy Director, Mike Frogley, this testing facility has become an extension of the team’s training environment and is considered integral to the long-term success of the national team. While some benefit from this research will be felt by athletes competing in Rio, this is a long-term project targeting athletes training for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Across the hallway at the Toronto Pan Am Sport Centre, our biomechanics and performance analysis team are also helping Swimming Canada’s relay athletes to better understand relay mechanics and strategy in order to enhance performance this summer in Rio. Using video-based observation, we are able to accurately identify individual performance gaps specifically related to relay swimming, and use evidence-based interventions to help our coaches improve individual and team performances. After only a short period of time, we are already seeing performance progress and improvement in decision-making from the objective feedback that has been provided.
At the velodrome, our Cycling Performance Analyst is working hard behind the scenes, collecting video and performance data which will help to inform coaching strategy for Canada’s Track-Cycling program as they make the final stretch to Rio. One of the legacy facilities from the 2015 Pan Am Games, the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton is home to Canada’s National Track-Cycling Team and the sport science and medicine team that supports it. The CSIO sport science team members have been well integrated into the daily training environment since the facility opened, having already implemented various practices that have greatly enhanced the training space. One example of this has been the installation of specialized cameras to analyze track-cycling starts and exchanges on an ongoing basis, bringing detailed analyses to the daily training environment that was previously limited to competitions. This type of technological intervention helps the coaches and athletes to fine tune their skills and strategy every day so that they will be ready to perform confidently at their main event in Rio.
Often behind the scenes, but always performance-focused, our biomechanics and performance analysis team members are supporting our coaches and athletes on and off the field of play to help them perform at their optimal level at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.
About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Located at the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, a legacy facility of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing world-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes and coaches to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. CSIO offers athletes a range of sport science and sport medicine services including nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, strength & conditioning, mental performance, sport therapy and life services. CSIO also delivers programming and services to National and Provincial Sport Organizations and coaches to work towards building a stronger sport system in Ontario and Canada.
CSIO services approximately 700 high performance athletes and 250 coaches, at its main facility at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, its satellite location at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, and in daily training environments across Ontario. CSIO is part of a larger network of 4 institutes and 3 multi-sport centres across the country known as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. CSIO is further supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada, along with the National and Provincial Sport Organizations within the sector.
Ryan Atkison, MSc, CSCS - Lead, Biomechanics & Performance Analysis