In an environment where split seconds can turn mere athletes into sporting heroes, the CSIR Sports Technology Centre (STC) is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the development and use of technologies that can be used in the coaching process to objectively measure and improve performance. South Africa's Olympic and Paralympic athletes, participating in sports such as baseball, taekwondo, rowing, canoeing, swimming, hockey, volleyball, and athletics, had the opportunity to benefit from what is known as notational or performance analysis.
"The primary objective of notational analysis is to objectively analyse performance with a view to improving future performance," explains Dr Tony Kirkbride, STC manager. Digital cameras are strategically positioned around athletes to record and monitor their performance from various angles. This information can then be analysed in a variety of ways to suit the individual athlete or coach.
"Secondly, one is able to review an athlete's performance instantaneously. In some interventions, there is no need to take the footage back to a lab to analyse it," Kirkbride says. And ultimately, one is also able to create benchmarks and to objectively track an athlete's improvement and progress in terms of technique.
"There is a very strong correlation between an athlete's performance and the amount of technology intervention he/she has had in training,"he adds.
The STC's track record for developing analysis technologies includes contracts with the United Cricket Board of SA, SA Rugby, the International Cricket Council, the All Africa Games, and the Commonwealth Games Association. For the past year, in the run up to Athens 2004, the STC provided technology interventions in a project funded by the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and Disability Sport South Africa (DISSA).