(Photo via Riddell)
Depending on the level of football, the primary goal from an X’s and O’s standpoint for a team when it steps onto the field is to win. At the early years of pee-wee, the objective is for players to learn fundamentals, and as they progress toward the upper levels of youth football along and then onto high school, college and the pros, winning becomes a greater priority.
Regardless of what level you’re talking about, the top priority is to keep the players safe, specifically when it comes to head injuries. To that point, Riddell has been an industry leader when it comes to helmet technology and compiling data that will help a coach or athletic trainer properly monitor the players and any impacts they are taking to their heads.
After compiling a database since 2004 using their Sideline Response System, Riddell has unveiled a new transformative technology called InSite Training Tool, a web-based and enhanced version of InSite Impact Response System that Riddell launched in 2014.
“Somebody on the sideline holds an alert monitor and all of the helmets are equipped with sensors on the field,” said Thad Ide, senior vice president of research and product development for Riddell. “If an atypical impact happens on the field based on a 5 million impact data set that we’ve been building over the years, an alert is sent to the sideline and the sideline personnel then does what they would do.”
Coaches or trainers then observe the player and ask him questions when he comes to the sideline. The technology is like having another set of eyes on the field. But teams and coaches, were initially unsure of what to do with this data or how to keep track of it. But with the ITT technology, the coaches will have a lot more information to present training opportunities for them and to eventually reduce the overall head impact exposure to young athletes.
“Now the technology that we’re rolling out is a much wider platform,” Ide said.
During the 2017 season, over 1,000 programs used the InSite technology and an additional 550 programs (combination of new and existing) have purchased the InSite/ITT helmets during this sales year. Programs that will be using the InSite Training Tool for the 2018 season are FBS (NCAA Division I) programs including Texas and Tulsa, FCS (formerly I-AA) schools including Colgate, Lafayette, Dartmouth, and South Dakota. In total, over 35,000 players have been outfitted with InSite since 2014.
Riddell has used this database of on-field impacts to design helmets including the SpeedFlex platform. The types of impacts the players receive on the field and what direction they’re coming from has played a big role in how Riddell goes about designing features for their helmets.
But the system that’s been in place since 2014 has been resource-intensive and is generally run by a graduate assistant or two. There’s a lot of data involved, and it’s not the type of system a high school could easily use without someone who knows how to properly interpret the data.
But now with ITT, the information collected can be presented in a way that allows the teams, schools or programs the ability to make the data tangible, useful and educational.
“We really think that this technology has great potential to take football to a new and better place where coaches that crave information will now have information that they can use to objectively make decisions to reduce the head impact exposure to the athlete,” Ide said.
When an organization makes the decision to sign up for ITT, there’s one administrator selected who will be the point person for the training tool. It could be the head coach or athletic director, but whomever it is will have the login information and Riddell will assist with the equipment installation and they’ll take a training course.
Here's a look at how Riddell's InSite Training Tool shows helmet contact (Photo via Riddell)
This technology will ultimately take a coach into a world he’s never seen.
“It will comb through all of the data for you and raise red flags when something doesn’t seem right according to that player’s own individual history throughout wearing an InSite helmet or the national norm for playing level and playing position,” said Matt Shimshock, Lead Support Coordinator-Smart Helmet Technologies for Riddell. “It gives you an opportunity to train a player differently. You don’t have to go comb through that data.”
ITT also gives coaches the opportunity to put together a comprehensive plan for practices. Every coach has always had his way of putting together a practice schedule and the agenda for each session, but now Riddell has come up with a universal planner that is part of the new ITT technology.
“We incorporated into the training tool a very easy to use online platform that you email to your coaches, print it out from the website, hang it in the locker room and take it out to practice,” Shimshock said.
The practice tool dashboard includes a breakdown of the previous day of practice, the current day, and the next scheduled practice. A coach will be able to plug in the title and start time and see the projected contact level, number of contact minutes, number of alerts and the number of training opportunities.
A coach who doesn’t use ITT may suggest that he has a pretty good feel of how many impacts to the head his player is taking in a particular practice.
But do they have any clue?
“Do they really have any idea of the number of total impacts that they’re sustaining out there?” Shimshock asked.
In many cases they don’t, but with ITT they have all the data and what it means at their fingertips.
Football is a great sport and teaches young athletes so many important lessons. The priorities change as a player gets older with a bigger emphasis on winning, especially when a player gets to high school. For coaches, winning is important, but the safety of his players is the ultimate priority. Riddell’s InSite Training Tool gives coaches the opportunity to better observe his players and to properly make use of the data regarding impacts to the head.
For teams, schools, and programs that would like more information on Riddell’s InSite Training Tool, please visit riddell.com/insite.