“To be faster by a tenth of a second, by an inch, by two feet or two yards, than he had been the week or year before”. - John L. Parker, Jr.
An accurate timing system is critical when tracking athlete improvement over a training block, a season and a career. For elite power sport athletes, an improvement of 0.01 s can mean the difference between a bronze medal and a gold medal. Just ask Maurice Greene, bronze medal winner in the men’s 100 m race at the 2004 Olympics (when Justin Gatlin beat him by, you guessed it, 0.01 s). To track performance improvements of this magnitude it is vital to have a timing system that is reliable.
Performance testing is commonly used to evaluate young athletes for potential success in a variety of sports. One event in particular is the National Football League (NFL) Scouting Combine, the league’s annual pre-draft tool to evaluate new players. The premier event at the NFL Scouting Combine is the 40-yd dash, a timed event similar to the 100 m race at track and field competitions. Currently, timing gates are the tools used for recording 40-yd dash times at combine events; however, timing gates require substantial time and effort to set up, and are prone to errors in the form of false signals (e.g., a hand breaks the photo beam and triggers the start of a sprint before the athlete has moved).
To solve these problems, XCO has developed DASH - a portable performance training system that eliminates the risk of false signals, requires less than 1 minute to set up and boasts centimeter-level precision. Recently, we tested the capabilities of DASH against the Zybek PowerDash 3X system in a 30 m sprint.
How Does DASH Work for Sprints?
Leveraging the capabilities of ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, DASH is able to capture athlete position in 3D in real time. The athlete wears a tag - similar in size, shape and weight to a key fob - in a belt around the waist. The tag relays the position of the athlete to the tracking hub over 100 times per second. From the hub, the information is sent directly to the DASH App and stored in the cloud.
Why Use DASH?
DASH fits in a backpack and can be set up in less than 1 minute at any location - indoors or outdoors. Every DASH hub is factory calibrated, meaning all you need to do is turn it on and start running. Every sprint captured by the system returns a wealth of information including: reaction time; acceleration; velocity; split times; ground reaction time and stride length for left and right legs; top speed; fastest 5 m split, average speed; total sprint time. All of this information is displayed on the app immediately after the athlete finishes the sprint so immediate feedback can be provided.
How Reliable is DASH?
Recently, we tested the validity and reliability of our DASH system against the Zybek PowerDash 3X system. The Zybek timing gate system was used at the 2011-2013 and 2016 NFL Scouting Combine to measure times for the 40-yd dash. We asked 2 athletes to perform 30 m sprints and captured 10 m, 20 m and 30 m times with both systems simultaneously. The results showed that DASH was just as accurate as a timing gate system. Unlike timing gates, DASH is not prone to false signals, further increasing the accuracy of the system.
Earp, J. E., & Newton, R. U. (2012). Advances in Electronic Timing Systems. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(5), 1245–1248. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.
Link, D., Weber, M., Linke, D., & Lames, M. (2019). Can Positioning Systems Replace Timing Gates for Measuring Sprint Time in Ice Hockey? Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 1882. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.
van der Kruk, E., & Reijne, M. M. (2018). Accuracy of human motion capture systems for sport applications; state-of-the-art review. European Journal of Sport Science, 18(6), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/