Use of Technology

Critical Question 3 – What ethical issues are related to improving performance?


In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of technology in sport. Improvements and innovation in sport facilities and equipment are just a couple of ways that technology has been utilised in training and fitness.

What needs to be questioned is whether these changes impacting on sport in a positive way? Or are the talents, perseverance, hard work and human ability of athletes and coaches being replaced by technology and money?

Training Innovation

Advances in technology have led to many innovations in the field of athletic and strength training.

The use of synthetic pitches
There have been a number of state of the art synthetic fields (for soccer) popping up around Sydney. These pitches allow athletes to train and compete in various weather conditions.

Drop in Pitches
Cricket grounds all over Australia now use drop in pitches so that they can utilise the field all year round. During the winter months they replace the cricket square with normal turf to protect the pitch from AFL or rugby league games. When summer hits, they replace the turf with the cricket square.

Biomechanical Analysis
The introduction of video analysis has made it easier to study athletic movement. The use of photographic equipment is another method that is used to great effect. These methods make use of slow motion cameras allowing movement to be explored in more specific detailwhile also increasing opportunities to recognise faults in athletic technique and rectify them.

Compression garments are designed to increase aerodynamics, buoyancy and water resistance.

Testing procedures
The introduction of wind tunnels, hyperbaric chambers, sprint gates not only allow for more efficient testing of fitness requirements, they also aid athletes who are recovering from injury.

Lactate Threshold Training
This is an advanced training method that measures an athlete’s lactate levels throughout the training session to gain more of an accurate reading of whether an athlete is training in certain heart rate zones. It also accurately measures recovery levels as well. By providing a drop of blood, usually by pricking their fingertips, a precise reading can be determined. The reason why athletes test this is because they want to train as close to their lactate threshold as possible. This is because by determining where their lactate threshold is, an athlete can design and manipulate their training to work close to their lactate threshold and over time, they athlete may increase their threshold level.

Equipment Advances        

The introduction and development of a new, technologically advanced swimsuit caused great controversy in 2008. The Speedo LZR swimsuit was seen as contributing factor to every world record that was broken throughout that year. It’s sleek, hydrodynamic design allowed for minimal drag and resistance, increasing speed, whilst the corset-like fit helped wearers to maintain the best possible posture and style when swimming.

In an article posted in The Guardian, a journalist commented that, “since March, the LZR Racer swimsuit has helped create 74 world records – by the time you finish reading this, it will probably be 75”.

The swimsuit caused controversy because it raised concerns about the role of technology in athletic events. Commenters at the time addressed the issue of whether technology had outgrown sport, pointing out that it was hard to determine where the line should be drawn between human and technological achievements.

Golf Balls
Although not as controversial as the Speedo LZR Swimsuit, the design of the golf ball designed has progressed to increase the distance, spin or feel. Manufacturers are now able to manipulate the size and amount of dimples on the golf ball to produce these different effects. This slight change in design affects turbulent air-flow around the ball, which manipulates how the ball travels through the air.

Elite golfers are skilled athletes who will carefully purchase equipment based on quality and the style of their game. The development of improved designs for golf balls means that golfers can now easily choose the style of ball best suited to the particular course or purpose.


Equipment advances in other sports include:

– Heart rate monitors, GPS devices, and treadmills for endurance athletes. AFL and rugby league players in particular are utilizing GPS tracking devices to monitor their performance on the field.
– Technology to improve the effectiveness of golf clubs, for example, by using graphite shafts for more flexibility.
– Carbon fibre bats, which are used in cricket for more power.
– The transition from old style blocks to the slanted blocks used in swimming.
– Ice vests, which can cool the body down during hot, humid conditions