AP Photo/Mark Blinch

WHOOP finds positive results from largest performance study in U.S. pro sports.

By Mark J. Burns
December 10, 2016

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With the completion of the largest performance study ever conducted with a professional U.S. sports league, human performance company WHOOP is continuing to give sports organizations smarter data and insight into the relationship between physiological status and performance.

In partnership with Major League Baseball, the study included voluntary participation from 230 minor league players across nine MLB organizations, including the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles. The study—which occurred from June to November of this year—ultimately confirmed a positive correlation between monitoring recovery and performance, the Boston-based company found.

“I’m impressed with Major League Baseball’s commitment to innovation and their data-driven approach to understanding the rigors of the professional season,” said Will Ahmed, WHOOP Founder and CEO in a statement. “The initial findings of this study confirm the need for continuous physiological monitoring in professional sports, including in-game monitoring to improve player health and safety.

“WHOOP has set the foundation for future research that will empower baseball organizations to think differently about the traditional constructs of the game related to managing rosters, lineups and pitching rotations. The teams that embrace this culture of performance-enhancing data will have a distinct advantage.”

Throughout the six-month study, players wore the WHOOP fitness tracker during the day except in games, with various levels of sleep, strain, and recovery being measured and analyzed. The information, which included five key metrics such as heart rate, ambient temperature and skin response, was then sent to players’ smartphones via an app.

Ahmed told USA TODAY that 70 percent of the minor leaguers used the device daily to better understand how they responded to different situations. For example, the bodies of starting pitchers required three full days to completely recover while data also found that it takes about two days for players to return to their baseline levels after traveling; that number could potentially increase with long-distance flights, too.

Without citing much tangible evidence, WHOOP said that it uncovered evidence which “suggested a positive relationship between recovery levels in athletes and higher fastball velocity and exit speed off the bat.”

Andrew Hauser, Braves’ Director of Player Health and Performance, said the feedback from players has been very encouraging as the organization hopes to further playing careers through a clear understanding of how to improve athletes’ training regimens and sleep patterns.

“We partnered with WHOOP to better understand athlete recovery and to help the athlete understand the recovery process,” added Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Dan Duquette. We are excited about the potential for this technology to decrease injuries and enhance player performance.

Just last month, WHOOP released its direct-to-consumer wearable product, which currently retails for $500 as opposed to $1,200 for a yearly subscription offering geared towards athletes.

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