Article. Biomechanics: Computer Theories Work for Everyone
Dr. Gideon Ariel, the 38-year-old former Olympic performer who is touching off a sports revolution
Published on Tuesday, August 2, 1977 by Jim Bena
~~ Second of. two parts
BY JIM BENA G H ‘
Free Press Sports Writer.
‘4 +; FLINT – Dr. Gideon Ariel, the 38-year-old former Olympic
performer who is touching off a sports revolution with his
-computerized analysi$ of athletes, believes his system is’ so
sweeping that he could recreate the work of a great master on the
violin by taking a film of the artist and charting it on a computer.
I le would then build a mechanical violin to trace the master’s Movements and reproduce the music.
“I can put a whole symphony back just by knowing the (music, he ‘,ias telling an audience at U-M Flint. “A specific artist can’lt make the same note In two different ways.”
. Ariel’s process of breaking down high-speed film and chartIng the assorted body joints of a person on & computer is makings. Impact on more than the sports world, which Is the No. I interest area of the brilliant, Innovative former Israeli athlete and coach who is now an American citizen.
It is Ariel’s contention that the human body is structured in many ways like a machine, so it can be studied like a machine in order to get maximum performance. His field is called biomechanics.
“Here in Flint,” he told his audience !it the automobile producing city, “people are being part of a machine. We could study their motions (as they put parts on a car) and help them as well as their employers.”
yHe also told how he was brought Into the legal case almost a ear ago where Johnny Carson was injured on a slant board and sued for $5 million. Ariet was brought in to prove that it wasn’t `the fault of the exercise board. His side won.
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Ariel, In his talks, however, seems more fascinated In his After hearing the 1 %-hour presentation, Furtado was clearly work than money-making potential. “We are missing the mar- impressed.
keting arm In our company,” he says. Right now, there are only a ‘Gideon Ariel has opened up new horii.ons in sports preparadozen co-workers to touch off what many sports figures In the Lion and rehabilitation, and in the teaching of shills.”
U.S. are calling “a revolution:’. Furtado said he thought that athletes would buy Arlel’s line,
Part of the problem may be_ that Arlel is so geared to his ; too, because. they would change their way of doing tT__ ngs when
research andl-nterest in sports. : they see it through engineering methods.” – – –
His work with the U.S. Olympic teams is becoming nation ally known. But his work is also becoming known to the business world, including professional sports.
Just the other day, he was in Seattle to make a presentation to
the N hA SuperSouics, whose owner Sam Schulman had heard of Ariel through the work he (lid in designing a machine to improve jumping ability for Schulman’s Universal Gym Equipment com
“Gideon told us he didn’t know anything about basketball,” said Frank Furtado, the team’s 46-year-old trainer, who has a teaching background. “lle said he’s an engineer, and the principles of engine^ring are basically those of human motion, and that these can be ,=pplied to humans by the computer.”
ACCORDING TO FURTADO, who attended the meeting with the team’s general manager, coach and, player personnel chief. Ariel -inke (town some films of-basketball players and slwwcd the engineering factors in shooting jump shots and free throws. He tried to explain that the wrist flick (follow through) was rt’ally not that important to the mechanics of the shot and. how to stud; the angle of release of the shot.
More important to Furtado. was Ariel’s work in the area of power training and injuries.
At let had told them of the suggestions lie made to Elmore Smith, the 7-foot center, who was with the Los Angeles Lakers at th-: time. Smith’:. i,’ hiIles’ tendon on his size-17 feet were short and tight, so he had difficulty getting his heel all the way to the floor when he ran. Consequently, Smith ran often on the balls of his feet and v.-as constantly off-balance. ‘ ‘
A piece of material was slipped into Smith’s shoes to compensate.
For this awl other corrective work he has done through computer sr”dy, it is evident why one of the major shoo curip ivies (Puny) retained Ariel to design one of its new products.
HE TALKS of working with diabetics by giving them an exercise program to at-ti ate their pancreas and a computerized weight watchers’ progr,ï¿½m.
He even says he Is going to do a biomechanic study of sex. r’.. His small but active Computerized Biomechanical Analysis, ~dc., company in Amherst, Mass., has enough potential that Ariel ;says, “When Ford came up with a car, he sold just one product. When Xerox came along, they were selling one product. We are ~jelllng life.
!:, ‘ “I think this (business) has the potential to be he biggest corporation ever.”
Furtado said he was going to ‘f:commend that the Sonics retain Ariel. Owner Schulman already felt that way.
“Sam Schulman told me, ‘if our (his team’s) free throw shooting could be increased 10 percent, we would win the championship’,” Ariel said.
THE SONICS aren’t the only team with enough foresight to appreciate Ariel’s talents (though when lie was in Flint, a friend contacted the major professional Detroit teams. and couldn’t generate any interest). Ariel has done work with the football Dallas Cowboys, the baseball Kansas City Royals as well as the Lakers, and infatuated the Chicago Rears’ owner George Halas, who was an engineering student in college.
“Halas is crazy over this – he went berserk,” Ariel recalled. He futtier impresscd11alas by designing a machine fur his hip that lessened the shock as the 82 year old moves about.
With the Cowboys, Ariel helped improve offensive lineman Rayfield Wright’s knee injury and analyzed the team kickers.
With the Royals, he worked with two big-league pitchers on their motions, explaining to them that the simple wrist exercises they had been doing for years would improve them “about two or .three percent” while a program he introduced would help 1,000 percent.
Ariel has studied golfers (‘,The best ones aren’t the ones who follow through but the ones who slew down just before making -contact with the ball”) and tennis (though lie doesn’t know how ï¿½ to play, be said he is setting up the most sophisticated tennis -center ever with pro Vic Braiden). He believes he has dispelled a hockey theory that players should shoot their slap shots almost a foot behind the puck.
He studied some of Seattle Slew’s races and noticed that the ï¿½ horse’s legs were running at differena angles when he finally lost. He theorized. that the horse was on some kind of.ltxug (it was).
As an idea man, Ariel’s mind is like a fount, spewing out innovations on the spur of the moment during conversations with associates. ,
Where will it all-end? Furtado. for one, says sports better appreciate Ariel now because “business will tic him up so badly
he won’t have time for sports.”