Dexalytics Improving Sports Performance

The Potential of Dexalytics to Improve Sports Performance

My colleagues and I have been working on implementing the body analysis software Dexalytics for the last two decades. This technology improves on clinical diagnostic procedures such as x-rays to measure bone, fat, and muscle. It has the potential to revolutionize treatment and analysis of sports performance.

The idea for Dexalytics started when I was contacted by a manufacturer of a DXA (dual x-ray absorptiometry) scanner saying that they had a client interested in maximizing the potential of their DXA data. This client turned out to be an NFL team. The report produced by the DXA machine is comprised of numerous pages filled with data, and the team felt there were data points they weren’t fully understanding. Since the manufacturer came from a clinical background, it was at a loss to bridge the gap to sports performance. That’s where the College of Education and Human Development’s School and Kinesiology Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology, in partnership with CEHD’s Educational Technology Innovations (ETI), stepped in.

By working with the teams in major sports, we’ve developed Dexalytics software to allow trainers, coaches and sports medicine professionals to better use the DXA data to help them better examine the team and individual position players. This generates a wealth of information to choose from: upper and lower body muscle mass, a unique performance score and other related values.

More recently, we entered into a partnership with Hologic, Inc., to be able to bring this powerful cloud-based software technology to athletic trainers across North America.

Using Dexalytics to Uncover Potential Sports Performance

One of the most important times of year for a football team is the NFL draft. By using Dexalytics  to look at players in terms of body composition, future growth, and athletic potential, a team can start getting a more specific idea about players they’d like to select for their roster. This software offers the opportunity to compare current professional players with potential draftees and determine if there’s a place for them on the active roster or practice squad. While there’s a wide range of ways to predict potential sports performance from individuals, Dexalytics offers a way to break down complex analysis into more manageable, usable data points.

Currently, potential NFL players are assessed by attributing a score based on the position they play. Whether it’s a running back, defensive back, or a lineman, each player is put into categories based on position-specific variables that have proven to be important. These variables often include arm length, hand size, body mass index (BMI), etc. Dexalytics takes analysis a step further; with this software, we can go inside the person and determine how much muscle is yet needed for the position, their current body fat, and where it’s all distributed throughout the body. It offers a far more in-depth look at a player’s body composition.

Optimizing Training Regimens Off the Field

Dexalytics isn’t just a boost to sports performance on the field. It helps trainers and dieticians maximize how a player prepares their body. It’ll identify potential red flags and asymmetries in a player’s body composition, which will allow a strength coach to design a program specifically tailored to a player. As the training program is underway, the coach can enter the data into the system and keep track of progress.

From there, the coach can determine what’s successful and what’s not, and optimize the program further. It allows coaches and training staff to better understand how to improve players in an easier, more quantifiable way.

Taking Sports Science Forward

In working closely with clients, we’ve seen a growing demand in customized training. It doesn’t matter whether it’s high school, college, or professional athletics. We’re constantly being driven by one question: How can we best personalize training while also monitoring whether the customization works? Dexalytics provides proof that the one-size-fits-all approach to training is a thing of the past. Coaches, trainers, and dieticians are beginning to understand the importance of fine-tuned, individualized training programs to reach an elite level of sports performance.

Don Dengel

About the Author

Don Dengel, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • Exercise Physiology
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • University of Minnesota

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