From Numbers to Stories to Action Sets: SAI’s DARI System Gives Coaches and Trainers the Insights They Need to Build Elite Athletes

Kevin Jordan, Titans of Sports Tech – November 6, 2017

New York – A teenage skier in the process of recovering from a right ACL injury made sufficient progress to get back out into the snow during her training at the Winter Park Competition Center in Colorado. As part of her rehabilitation, she joined a DARI study which showed the trainers something interesting – her left leg was working too hard to compensate for the injured right leg. But before her trainers could put a regimen in place to reduce the load on her left leg, the left ACL went.

Stephanie Zavilla, Director of the Sports Performance and Mental Skills programs at the facility was excited. Not for the injured athlete, of course, but because had they begun using DARI sooner, there would have been time enough to prevent the second ACL injury, and possibly even the first. “We can see these things before they happen, which makes the system predictive,” Zavilla says of Scientific Analytic’s groundbreaking motion analysis technology, DARI.

That’s precisely the point of SAI’s innovative markerless motion capture technology – to provide fast, accurate, objective biometrics that trainers can use to keep athletes in peak physical condition so they are available to play.

DARI may just be the one thing standing between talented, disciplined athletes and elite, pro-level performance. The technology instantly captures, tracks and measures the quality of an athlete’s movements in near-real-time and turns the data into actionable reports in minutes, not hours.

DARI uses a unique combination of 3D kinematic and kinetic calculations to study and predict the impact of human motion dynamics on performance. Generating hundreds of thousands of data points, DARI delivers insights to teams and organizations that enables them to not only increase strength and build power in their athletes, but also to strengthen weaknesses, eliminate dysfunctions and asymmetries, and ultimately prevent injuries.

DARI’s data visualization reports & unique DARI score quantify and demonstrate functional movement capabilities (click to see a full report)

The DARI Advantage

From its inception, the challenge put forth by DARI’s developers was always to make the next test better than the last test. Initially, DARI developers Patrick and Ryan Moodie used a simple marker-based system. Patrick Moodie recalls, “for every win, the response was: ‘That’s nice, but what about this?’” That small, seemingly insignificant practice is what laid the foundation for an accurate system that focuses on removing human error, and getting to the data quickly.

Speed and accuracy have become two reputation-making offerings that set SAI’s technology apart as a world class leader in motion analytics. The speed at which trainers can now perform full-body scans using DARI gives them the freedom to test each athlete as a regular part of the program training. Each scan takes just a few minutes.

Logan Ogden is the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Much of his focus goes to improving strength, power, agility and endurance in members of the men’s and women’s basketball, track and field, and cross-country teams.

Ogden, who has successfully used 3D maps and FMS, specifically talks about DARI’s speed and accuracy as compelling reasons to use the system over other technology. “DARI is a very advanced system, and if you tried to compare it to another functional movement set test… it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s not the same.”

DARI turns data points into action sets, which for Ogden is a more accurate method of motion analysis than trying independently to give data meaning without the quantitative analysis.

Scientific Analytics, Inc. has half a dozen contemporaries in the motion analytics space, all of which specialize in different aspects of performance tracking. KinaTrax provides markerless motion capture data for baseball teams that provide coaches with a 3D analysis of every pitch.

Catapult uses wearable technology to collect performance-based data that elite athletes wear on the field. Sparta Science incorporates the use of force plates to deliver diagnostic and prescriptive motion data.

Fusionetics, a company with the specific goal helping athletes prevent injuries and achieve optimal movement efficiency, takes a more subjective, hands-on approach to analyzing motion capture data, which can include having athletes complete questionnaires that are used in concert with test results to help trainers and health professionals create action plans.

Users like Logan Ogden and Stephanie Zavilla can pinpoint specific features which set SAI’s DARI apart from its competitors. While these features are not unique to DARI in and of themselves, they are part of a larger catalog of benefits that helps Scientific Analytics, Inc. stand out when compared to other providers in motion analytics.

Feature #1: Unprecedented speed

Markerless monitoring and instant reporting have whittled-down the time trainers spend testing athletes to minutes instead of weeks. Markerless monitoring is unobtrusive and convenient. That means athletes can be in training, step away for five minutes of testing, then go back to training without their departure and subsequent return being disruptive.

Years ago, there were two options for performance testing: Trainers could spend an hour attaching and properly placing electrodes on an athlete to get needed analytic data (remember the Bionic Man?), or they could choose several team members from the group to test and use them as a baseline for the rest of the team.

Of course, applying electrodes is time-intensive and severely limits the number of athletes that can be tested. Further, it can take days, or even weeks, for the data to come back for analysis.

DARI’s ability to run tests in near real-time and produce meaningful reports in five minutes gives trainers and coaches the ability to track and measure the progress of their athletes’ actual performance, and customize training programs for individual athletes. The old saying goes, if you increase the availability of your top athletes, you increase your chances of winning. That’s what DARI does best.

Feature #2: Scalability

For Division 1 schools like Notre Dame, which has hundreds of student athletes in the sports department, DARI is a useful tool in helping coaches get an accurate baseline of a team’s overall strengths and challenges without having to make subjective assumptions.

In addition to helping coaches get a better understanding of how to train the entire team, DARI also helps coaches manage data on individual athletes to objectively assess their strengths and weaknesses from month to month and season to season.

And the systems scales to accommodate the needs of smaller organization without compromising functionality.

Feature #3: DARI scores

DARI has created a universal scoring system to help trainers, coaches, and athletes quantify functional movement capabilities. The DARI Score measures power, strength, dysfunction, and vulnerability and assigns a performance level based on these data points.

DARI scores are consistent, showing little to no variance in the system itself. In fact, DARI scores exhibit 95.9% to 98.7% repeatability. That means measured changes as little as 1.3% can be credited to a change in the athlete’s performance and not fluctuations in the way DARI measures an athlete’s performance.

Feature #4: Data visualization

Perhaps the most important feature DARI offers is in-depth reporting to give value to collected data. This goes beyond measuring individual lunges, squats, joint torques, and jumps. DARI excels at aggregating and organizing data into a graphical format to help users understand its significance. This is called data visualization.

Data visualization facilitates much-needed awareness and understanding by converting an athlete’s data into a story that coaches and trainers can use to create targeted training programs. DARI focuses on how people absorb information visually, identifying the best ways to present data to make it useful to sports organizations and actionable for athletes.

Solving that one challenge is a major win for SAI’s flagship product. It’s a well-known problem within the sports tech community that there’s far more data available than can be readily translated into information to help teams achieve specific outcomes. Data visualization removes the need for teams to hire analysts to come in and interpret the numbers.

For coaches and trainers, having the ability to clearly and succinctly help players understand what the tests show and how to both capitalize on strengths, and strengthen deficiencies, means athletes can reconcile the data they see with the training programs trainers implement to achieve specific outcomes.

Encouraging this level of awareness in athletes often has multiple benefits for teams. For players, having a better understanding of where they stand with respect to their teammates motivates them to do better. Athletes can monitor their improvements over time and measure their on-the-field efforts against the positive improvements in their numbers as they implement action plans.

“Probably the greatest thing that it does is it makes them competitive,” says Ogden. “They ultimately want to reach level five, and they know the areas in which they need improve to get to level five.”

Feature #5: Preventing injury

Preventing injury is a crucial responsibility charged to trainers and coaches. DARI delivers more data with more depth than any other motion capture technology in the space. More, DARI provides trainers, coaches, and organizations with the information needed to increase player availability by spotting degradations in athletes that aren’t hurt or injured and objectively intervening with corrective exercises based wholly on the data. This happens before pain ever gets a chance to manifest in the athletes.

This kind of motion technology effectively decreases the amount of time players spend injured or recovering, and ensures top-performing athletes are consistently available to play, and to play at their greatest capacity.

Feature #6: Comprehensive and comprehensible

Another key benefit of using the DARI system is the seamless onboarding process. DARI was designed to be a turnkey solution that would allow sports clubs and teams to quickly adopt and put to use DARI technology. The cloud-based platform allows users to access information from anywhere in the world. For a facility like the Winter Park Competition Center secluded in the Colorado mountains, having a portable solution is a huge benefit.

Feature #7: Recruiting talent

The analytical side will appeal more to athletic trainers, strength and conditioning staff, and sports science staff than team coaches, but DARI presents coaches with the opportunity to assess talent and gives them the chance to prepare personalized programming for incoming talent.

Logan Ogden adds that he sees more and more incoming students arriving at the UNO with higher training backgrounds. Many have been taught the importance of strength and conditioning at a young age, but they don’t get proper training. The result is an influx of talented students with counter-productive training habits. The challenge then for college coaches is to quickly correct the dysfunctions and asymmetries before these students can even start to train.

For parents, DARI technology minimizes concern about keeping their kids healthy, safe, and free from injuries. Notre Dame Assistant Strength Condition Coach, Geoffrey Puls agrees that athlete health is the school’s number one priority. In addition to helping trainers boost athletes’ physical performance, speed, and movement efficiency DARI can help coaches identify and fix problems.

More and more incoming students arriving at the UNO with higher training backgrounds. Many have been taught the importance of strength and conditioning at a young age, but they don’t get proper training.

“Using this technology, we’re able to identify movement deficiencies, improper kinetic chaining, at an individual level. And we’re doing it objectively, not just subjectively with our eyes, but actually objective measures that we can then create specific programs to help our athletes correct those deficiencies.”

What’s Next for Scientific Analytics?

Over the last decade, every aspect of the DARI brand has been carefully crafted by a commitment to improve the user experience, deliver the most value, and produce research-grade biomechanical data fast.

Headed by CEO Todd Gleason, a seasoned leader who specializes in heading up early stage growth companies, Scientific Analytics is building out APIs to give its clients the option to not just access information from anywhere, but the ability to port data into data management systems they may already have. SAI is looking for a way to help teams consolidate, assess, and report on all the data from one place. But that’s a few months away yet.

Originally posted by Kevin Jordan on Titans of Sports Tech.