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Stephen Curry And The Use Of Wearables In The NBA

The point guard’s training regime includes obscure wearables

9Aug

Golden State’s Stephen Curry isn’t only arguably the finest shooter in NBA history and the reigning MVP, he’s a truly modern basketball player in every sense. The 28-year-old’s often unbelievable moves have become a sensation, with footage of his performances and personal life racking up more views on Youtube than any other athlete globally - that includes the likes of Lionel Messi and LeBron James. Buzzfeed announced in February that Curry’s YouTube numbers equated to 30,000-plus hours watched daily, with ordinarily obscure compilation videos amassing millions of views.

But Curry owes his success to more than just his genes - his father, Dell Curry, retired as the Charlotte Hornets’ all-time leader in points with 9,839 - with his work-rate also making headlines. His moves are the product of intense practice and some of the most forward-thinking uses of wearable technology in sport, of which some are decided by his team and others are his own techniques.

In terms of the Golden State Warriors’ use of wearables, the team is one of the most sophisticated in the NBA. Wearable tech isn’t allowed onto the court but, off of it, devices are used to limit injuries, track physical data and improve shooting, among other things. The Warriors use a device from Catapult, which sits in-between the shoulder blades and monitors movement in minute detail. Acceleration, heart rate, and changes in direction can be examined and, applied alongside metrics like the athlete’s weight, the force applied to the knees and ankles can be monitored and kept in check. The benefits of applying this information can be huge; forward Andre Iguodala attributes his Warriors side’s 2015 NBA Championship win to the lack of injuries they enjoyed.

It’s no coincidence, too, that the Warriors duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thomson hold the NBA record for most points scored in a season. The team use two pieces of wearable technology to hone their shooting - Blast Motion and Shot Tracker. Blast Motion is a movement tracker that visualizes jumps, recording metrics like jump height, acceleration, rotation, and hang time to build a complete picture of where an athlete could improve. Shot Tracker, predictably, records the flight of the ball as well as the player’s movements, with a sensor detecting and recording a make or a miss. The argument that you can’t improve what you don’t measure has been given weight by the success of Curry and Thomson, but it’s the former that takes the use of technology to a new level.

Videos emerged last year of Curry’s abnormal training methods. One of which involves juggling a tennis ball alongside dribbling a basketball, whilst wearing glasses that impair his vision significantly. The idea is that, by having to focus through impaired vision to juggle the tennis ball, the basketball becomes secondary, an extension of the arm. The effect of the training can be seen in Curry’s ankle-breaking dribbling; he leaves players for dead seemingly unhindered by having to take the ball with him.

There are examples of other teams using various new technologies to enhance training, but the Warriors have found the winning formula of talent and coaching methods to really get the most out of the tech. Stephen Curry is a once in a generation basketball player, and innate talent plays a huge part in that. Having said that, his commitment to working with new technology that supplements his training routine is what makes him the portrait of a modern MVP. Curry’s multitasking skill in training goes a long way to explaining why, with the glasses off, he seems quite so supernatural on the court. 

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