Scientist blows the whistle

Article. Scientist blows the whistle

To learn which sport the youngster should spend his high school and college years mastering

Winnipeg Free Press

Published on Wednesday, November 7, 1979 by Earl Gustkey

“Scientist blows the whistle

By Earl Gustkey

It is 1984. A high school coach arrives at the Coto Sport Research Centre in Southern California with a promisinglooking 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 centre,_ Dr_ Gideon.ArieLmeasures the boy’s bones, tests his reflexes, photographs him running, jumping and throwing with 10,000-frame-per-second movie cameras, examines his parents for genetic characteristics, tests his muscle strength on electonic weight-training machines, measures his jumping ability on force plates and checks his cardiovascular capacity and 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 computers. 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 Co change its athletic training concepts,” Ariel we he said. ‘ puterized

“But there are many experienced Inc., lab coaches who just don’t like to be t6ld moved wt they’ve been doing something wrong Coto de for years. foothills

“Take the shot put, for example. We Los Angel used to have three men on the Olympic Coto Spoz victory stand. Now, none. Why? The Ariel s East Europeans outcoached us, that’s throughot why. there. Soi

“Computers show us the most effec- O A golf tive way to put the shot is to use a short ‘ more yar ‘lide across the ring and a long O NFL

-m stroke. That’s how the East Euro- and com

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‘ly speaking, coach a long glide and 0 Youn

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‘ompiled a complete report on the ral abilit,.

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vel, Newtonian physics. noted at

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me to my it to anybc

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Gideon Ariel says computer age techniques can f

ows the whistle on coaches

By Earl Gustkey

It is 1984. A high school coach arrives at the Coto Sport Research Centre in Southern California with a promisinglooking 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 centre,_ D.L_ Gideon-Ariel.measures the boy’s bones, tests his reflexes, photographs him running, jumping and throwing with 10,000-frame-per-second movie cameras, examines his parents for genetic characteristics, tests his muscle strength on electonic weight-training machines, measures his jumping ability on force plates and checks his cardiovascular capacity and 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 computers. 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 concepts,” he said.

“But there are many experienced coaches who just don’t like to be t6ld 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 effec

tive way to put the shot is to use a short

‘fide across the ring and a long m stroke. That’s how the East Euroans do it. American coaches, gen

tly speaking, coach a long glide and

‘)rt arm stroke.

-ompiled a complete report on the

!, containing indisputable evi

)f this. It wasn’t complicated

lutionary. It was simply high

vel, Newtonian physics.

,.now what happened? A U.S.

‘mmittee coach took it from

up in his drawer and told

me to my face he wasn’t going to show it to anybody.”

That’s Gideon Ariel, the acerbic, 40year-old former Israeli Olympic team (he’s a U.S. citizen now) discus thrower who started tinkering with computers and high speed cameras 10 years ago. He’s a two-time PhD – in computer science and exercise science.

Today, he’s director of computer science-biomechanics for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Ariel’s method involves taking ultrahighspeed movie footage of an athlete performing. The frames are turned into stick drawings, showing body bones and joints. Eventually, a sequential “cartoon” of the action is created, enabling a viewer to measure acceleration and force of all body parts at any given point in the action.

“How can a coach teach, say, a javelin thrower how to release the javelin when he’s never seen a release?” Ariel asks. “The human eye can’t see it – it occurs in a fraction of a second.”

Few people on earth can see track and field like Gideon Ariel can. To the spectator in a stadium, few sights can rival the majesty of a javelin soaring 300 feet through the air.

But to Ariel, the true beauty of the moment lies in that unseen fraction of a second when the javelin leaves the human hand, when the athlete brings eternal truths of physics to bear on the spear.

Construction to start

Ariel worked seven years at his Computerized Biomechanical Analysis, Inc., lab in Amherst, Mass. But he’s moved west. Ground will break soon at Coto de Caza, a private club in the foothills of Orange County, south of Los Angeles, for the multimillion-dollar Coto Sport Research Centre.

Ariel says Olympic athletes from throughout the world will be tested there. Some other projected services:

� A golfer will be shown how to get 20 more yards off the tee (for $1,500).

� NFL placekickers will be filmed and computerized. “I will guarantee them 10 more yards,” Ariel says.

� Young athletes will be directed into sports most suitable for their natural ability and potential.

� Tennis players will be shown how to deliver a faster serve.

Ariel has personally tested a lot of noted athletes and fed data into his computers. But he also can father data from ordinary movie films and videotapes. Here are some random Ariel

observations, based on his stuc athletes in different sports:

RENALDO NEHEMIAH, hurdler, pending world record ho “He could win the gold medal 100-metre dash. His hurdle tecl really isn’t that good. It’s not as g Hayes Jones’, or Lee Calhoun’ he’s a tremendous, natural sprin

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL -‘ of America’s best female athlet volleyball players, on the U.! tional team. Two of them I’ve could be world-class javelin thi or high-jumpers. As for volleybi showed them that as soon as the telegraphing their hits at thi they’ll start winning more interns “matches.”

FRANKLIN JACOBS, 7-7 U.S jumper – “Look at Jacobs, c screen and what’s interesting him is not his height (5-8), bi knees. He only has 90-degree flex in his knees, which means he d have to lock his knee on takeoff driving off a structure, in effect. great advantage to him.

“By the way, the computer that the most efficient way of jumping is to approach the straight-on, instead of the side, off on one foot and go over belly Why no jumpers have tried it, I know.”

VALERIY BRUMEL, Soviet e: jump world record holder – “Usi: flop, he would’ve jumped 7-11.”

U.S. KAYAKERS – “On the F stroke, the maximum force is ci on the second half of the st Americans apply to much force beginning of the stroke.”

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA – has more talent than any of the w tennis players. She should be ing everyone else off the court. B has too much rotary action o strokes, increasing’the error

gin.

CREW – “In an eight-man she shell will go faster if the oarsme in a two-two-two sequence, inst( all at once. There will be a 1 average velocity. The problem is, difficult stroke pattern to co nate.”

ANN MEYERS, woman bask standout – “She has the potent break the women’s world record high jump. She can raise her cen gravity 60 centimetres in a vE jump.”

DOE LOS ANGELES TIMES ~10051~