Article. Computer Expert Aims to Put Athletes Into Winner's Circle
Ariel condenses a stack of computer printouts into a brief analysis that suggests the boy's best chance of sports success
Published on Sunday, November 11, 1979 by Unknown
Computer Expert Aims to Put Athletes Into Winner’s Circle
cepts,” he” said.
But there are many experienced coaches who just don’t like to be told they’ve been doing something wrong for years.
“Take the shot put, for example.We used to have three men on the Olympic victory stand. Now, none. Why? The East Europeans outcoached us, that’s why.
“Computers show us the most effective way to put the shot is to use a short glide across the ring and a long
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-LA. Times Service
It is 1984. A high school coach arrives at the Coto Sport Research Center in Southern California with a promising-looking athlete, a 14-year-old freshman.
Purpose of the visit: to learn which sport the youngster should spend his high school and college years mastering.
He spends 10 days at the center. Dr. Gideon Ariel, measures the boy’s bones, tests his reflexes, photographs him running, jumping and throwing with 10,000frame-per-second movie, cameras, examines his parents for genetic characteris- . . tics, tests his muscle strength on electronic weight-training machines, measures his jumping ability on force plates and checks his cardiovascular capacity arid flexibility.
Tests completed, Ariel condenses a stack of computer printouts into a brief analysis that suggests the boy’s best chance of sports success would be as a cyclist. Or a swimmer. Or a football player. Or a tennis player., Or a discus thrower.
It would be rushing things to say Gideon Ariel has lifted American coaches out of the Stone Age and set them down in the 21st Century. Or forced them to turn in their whistles for computerized video display terminals.
For one thing, he says, many of them prefer the Stone Age.
“It’s incredible to me that the nation that put men on the moon is so slow to change its athletic training con
Computerized performance profile of a shot-putter in motion is studied by Gideon Ariel,ï¿½who says that Computer Age techniques can help athletes perform. better, but that many coaches seem to prefer the Stone Age.
Ariel says Olympic ath- second half of the stroke. letes from throughout the. Americans apply to much world will be tested there. force at the beginning of the Some other projected- stroke.’ services:
‘ A golfer will be shown LOVA – “She has more tal
how to get 20 more yards off ent than any of the women the tee (for $1,500). tennis players. She should be
ï¿½ NFL placekickers will be blowing everyone else off the filmed and computerized. “I court. But she has too much
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extremely tall, thrower with great speed. So you could say a Wilt Chamberlain-size athlete with 10.2 or 10.3 100-meter speed is capable of 275 in the discus. I
“Similarly, the attributes of a 350-foot javelin thrower call for a 6-5 or 6-6 man with sprint speed. lightninglike
East Europeans do it. Ameri- yards,” Ariel says. increasing the error strong it could withstand can coaches, generally ï¿½Youngathleteswillbedi- margin.” blocking forces right to the speaking, coach a long glide – rected into sports most suit- – CREW – “In an eight- point where they begin to and a short arm stroke. able for their natural ability man shell, the shell will go break apart the bones.”
“I compiled a complete re– and_potential. faster if the oarsmen row in a In his Coto de Caza condo
port on the subject, contain- a Tennis players will be two-two-two sequence, In- minium, Ariel, a big, beefy ing indisputable evidence of shown how to deliver a faster stead of all at once. There
this. It wasn’t complicated or serve. will be a higher average ve- man, was leaping nimbly revolutionary. It was simply . Ariel has personally tested ‘ locity. The problem is, it’s a around his living room, demhigh school-level, Newtonian a lot of noted athletes and fed difficult stroke pattern to U.S. and East a visitor shot
ph sics : _ data into his computers. But coordinate. and European sot ~ï¿½ – put and hammer throw
You know what hap- he also can father data from ATHLETIC SHOES
pened? A U.S. Olympic Com ordinary, movie ‘films and “Some of the. advertising st les. He imitated a weight mittee coach took it from videotapes. Here are some claims by manufacturers are lifter, snatching a barbell.; me; locked it up in his drawer random Ariel observations, absolutely ridiculous. No one Next he was stroking a;
and told me to my face he based on his studies of ath- has come close to the opti- kayak.
wasn’t going to show it to letes in different sports: ‘ `mum shoe. The day will Then he sat down, swal
anybody.” ï¿½ RENALDO NEHEMIAH, come when computerization lowed a tall orange juice in
That’s Gideon Ariel, the high hurdler, pending world can design the perfect shoe three gulps, and talked about acerbic, 40-year-old former record holder – “He could for any athlete. It may be an America in the Olympics, Israeli Olympic team (he’s a win the gold medal in the inflatable shoe.” past, present and future.
U.S. citizen now) discus 100-meter dash. His hurdle WEIGHT TRAINING ,The last Olympics where, thrower who started tinker- techni ue really isn’t that “The next breakthrough will athletes could win gold mere ing with computers and high good. t ‘s not as good as be electronic weight train-als on sheer talent was 1964,” speed cameras 10 years ago. Hayes Jones’, or Lee Cal- ing, where resistance is pro- he said. “Those days are gone He’s a two-time, Ph.D. – in’ houn’s. But he’s a tremen- grammed. It will enable an forever. But if we apply com
computer science and exer- ‘dous, natural sprinter.” athlete to lift “around” an in
cise science. WOMEN’S VOLLEY- jury. Let’s say he has a chest puter technology to athletic
Today, he’s director of BALL – “Some of Ameri- muscle injury and wants to training, there is no limit to computer science-biome- ca’s best female athletes are bench press. At the point of what we can achieve. We chanics for, the U.S. Olympic volleyball players on the U.S. peak pain, the resistance could again dominate the Committee. – national team. Two of them drops way down, then goes Olympics, – with tour
Ariel’s method involves I’ve tested could be world- up again. technology.
taking ultra-highspeed mov- class javelin throwers or “Generally, weight train- “Look at East Germany. ie footage of an athlete per- high-jumpers. As for volley- ing has been over-empha- How many people, 17 mil-. forming. The frames are . ball, we showed them that, as sized by U.S. coaches. And lion? Yet they won more turned into stick drawings, soon as they stop telegraph- technique hasn’t been em- medals at the last Olympics; showing body bones and ing their hits at the net, phasized enough., Vasily. than some continents. (Totallj joints. Eventually, a sequen- ï¿½ they’ll start winning more in- Alexeyev may be the strong- medals for the top three’
tial “cartoon” of the action is ternational matches.” est man in the world but he countries at the ’76 Olym
created, enabling a viewer to FRANKLIN JACOBS, 7-7.’ couldn’t put the shot 50 feet. pies: U.S.S.R. 125, U.S. 94,
measure acceleration and U.S. high jumper – “Look at ‘ What does that tell you? East Germany 90).
force of all body parts at any Jacobs on -the. screen and “I should take~part of that “I know some ‘claim the
given point In the action. what’s interestig about him back. Bruce Wilhelm ‘(U.S. East Europeans are using,,
“How can -a coach teach, is not his height (5-8), but his weight lifter) ‘is as strong as ~ drugs. And they may be. But’
say, a javelin thrower how to knees. He only has 90-degree. Alexeyev, he exerts the same they’re using technology, too.;
?~. release the javelin when he’s, flexibility in his knees, which’ force. But Alexeyev’s tech With the technological ap-~
never seen a ‘release?” Ariel means he doesn’t’ have to pique is . much better.” proach to training, the poten-:
asks. “The human eye can’t lock his knee on takeoff. He’s ANN MEYERS, woman – tial for improvement is far.
see it – it occurs in a frac- driving off a structure, in ef- basketball standout – “She greater than it is with drugs.’
tion of a second.” feet. It’s a great advantage to has the potential to break the
Few people on earth can him. women’s world record in the “My point is, East Ger.
see track and field like Gid- – “By the way, the computer high jump. She can raise her – many decided to go to the sci
eon Ariel can. To the-specta- shows that the most efficient center of , gravity 60 centi-. ence-technology route in ath
for in a stadium, few sights way of high jumping is to ap- meters in a vertical jump.” – letic training and look what
can rival the majesty of a proach the bar straight-on, TOPSPIN – “In tennis, – happened. We stuck with our
javelin soaring 300 feet instead of the side, take off there’s no such thing as put- old ways. My hope Is our lab
through the air. on one foot and go over belly ting topspin on a ball with the here will start a revolution in
But to Ariel, the true beau- down. Why no jumpers have racquet. It’s impossible. The sports training.
ty of the moment lies in that tried it, I don’t know.” ball is only on the racquet “It’s’ not witchcraft, or
unseen fraction of a second VALERIY BRUMEL, So- four-one thousandths o a something too difficult to un
when the javelin leaves the viet ex-high jump world re- second. Topspin occurs on derstand. It’s high school-lev
human hand, when the ath- cord holder – “Using the the bounce. You can take el physics. No engineer
lete brings eternal truths of flop, he would’ve jumped 7 some spin away from a ball would build a bridge without
physics to bear on the spear.: with the racquet, though. calculating all the stresses
Ariel worked seven years U.S. CYCLISTS – _ For recreation,, Ariel and forces involved. Coaches
at his Computerized Biome-_ “American cyclists we tested ‘ ‘sometimes shifts his comput- should consider the same
chanical Analysis Inc. lab in were pulling up on the han ers into reverse. That is, be things when training an
Amherst, Mass. But ‘ he’s dlebars while driving the feeds an unheard-of-track athlete.
moved west. Ground will pedals down. The Europeans and field achievement into,
break soon at Coto de Caza, a are pushing down on both. the computer .to see ‘what American track coaches
private club in the foothills That s why the win and we kind of creature capable of tend to agree that they’ve
of Orange County, south of lose.” ,~ such a feat emerges. , ‘ -been slow to change to more
Los Angeles, for the multi- U.S. KAYAKERS – On. “One time I programmed scientific approaches, but Z. million-dollar Coto Sport Re= the paddle stroke, the maxi- a 275-foot discus throw. The bristle at the notion they re
search Center. mum force is created on the specifications called for an : sist innovation. =