Technology Keeping Penn State on the Right Track

October 12, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State cross country and track and field programs are taking advantage of new technologies that help student-athletes improve their training and make workouts more efficient.

Strength coach, Melissa Boldt, emphasized how important it is to keep up with new technology and emphasized that all of her student-athletes are constantly taking tests in order to set benchmarks to fine tune training and improve their athletic careers.

Boldt's program and the way she shapes her student-athletes has changed throughout her years at Penn State. Now, with new technology, she is able to carefully focus on each individual and give advice based on an athlete's specific body type and athletic performance.

New technology allows Boldt to test student-athletes so that, "We can get a better understanding of how our student-athletes move and generate force. Performing these tests will give us information towards training prescriptions, injury recovery and prevention," Boldt said.

The new advancements help Boldt build a profile for each individual student-athlete. Then, they are able to see their own progress and also get valuable information they can use to improve. Each athlete, "Has a profile from which we can prioritize training prescriptions," Boldt said.

One technological advancement that Penn State has added is called the force plate. The student-athletes do different types of jumps on this machine to help give them a benchmark for improvement.

Xavier Smith, a former Penn State track and field team captain, who now interns for Penn State, has been learning about this newly developed technology.

"We took a couple of student-athletes and put them on the force plate, we took them through a series of jumps, one being a squat jump and the other being a counter-movement jump. From there were able to access their athletic profile," Smith said.

Smith is able to mentor the current student-athletes, give them advice based on his experience in the program and also learn from the new technology.

"For me, it's a great experience," Smith added. "I wish I would've had more of an opportunity to have done this myself. I know how important it is to have an athletic profile so we can prevent injuries and change what we do in the weight room to support student-athletes' styles on and off the track."

Jordan Dudas, a former Penn State football student-athlete and current member of the Penn State applied health & performance science staff, is also using the new force plate technology to help improve athlete training. He said it will help all student-athletes set benchmarks for improvement and help with post injury progression.

"Once we set a baseline, if an athlete gets injured, we can develop a return to play protocol. When they are going through rehab we can send information to the medical staff to show where the athlete was and where they need to return," Dudas said.

Professional athlete, and 2018 NCAA outdoor 800-meter champion, Isaiah Harris took part in the session to help test out the new force plate. He wants to take care of his body and muscles and believes this new information is useful.

"I thought that it was pretty cool because just two weeks ago I went to the Olympic training center in Colorado," Harris said. "We did the same types of testing and that was my first time doing something like this. Once I got back here and was told I was doing a similar type of training, I thought that it was pretty cool that Penn State is at that elite level."

Harris believes that the new technology at Penn State is an example of how well the coaches look out for their student-athletes. He said that he would not be the athlete he is today without all of the support from his coaches and teammates.

"This program just goes to show how much Penn State cares about its student-athletes and they really just want to help us improve in every single way," Harris said. "They also focus so much on every single detail that will make people great."

Technology will continue to impact the field of sports and Penn State is staying current so that they are always learning new and better ways to help their student-athletes train.

Last Updated October 12, 2018