MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) — As football teams make tough decisions over who to draft, a new high-tech tool from Silicon Valley could be a real game changer.
NFL teams are willing to draft top college prospects such as Jadeveon Clowney and pay them millions. But teams want more information about their human investments than simple 40-yard dashes can give them.
That’s where Sparta Performance Science of Menlo Park comes in.
“It’s very similar to what we see with ‘Moneyball,’” said Dr. Phil Wagner of Sparta Performance Science. “It is that we’re analyzing things that nobody’s looked at before. And teams see that as a huge advantage.”
And it literally starts from the ground up. The company has developed what it calls the “Force Plate.” It’s an instrument that measures how much force athletes put on the ground when jumping or just standing.
The device is said to predict not only performance, but injury risk as well.
“How somebody is putting force into the ground, we can tell how hard they throw a baseball. How likely they are to pull a hamstring,” Wagner said.
While Sparta’s coaches work with athletes to improve performance and lessen injury risk, the company’s proprietary software measures progress.
Sparta has already signed exclusive deals in the NFC and AFC with the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars, which locks out the Bay Area teams.
“When teams recognize an advantage…once they get it is to make sure no one else has it,” Wagner said.
Tillman Pugh, a Bay Area baseball player attempting a comeback, said technology is increasingly a part of the game.
“They get their data, sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t, they want to switch things around. In a sense we are like lab rats, but we’re still also getting a lot of benefit from it,” he said.