What Is Sports Motion Analysis?

Sports motion analysis is used by athletes, coaches and medical professionals to get information about a teen’s sports movements to avoid injury and increase performance. The information is gathered by using digital video cameras that capture movements like jumping and throwing, and then we slow the video to view the motion on a frame-by-frame basis.

How is sports motion analysis done at Children’s? 
At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we use Dartfish, a computer-based motion analysis technology, to detect sports motions that can lead to injuries. With slowed video footage, we can see actions that may be missed by the naked eye.

Examples include:

  • For a baseball pitcher, we look to see if he is dropping his elbow when he throws, which can increase stress across the joint and may lead to injury.
  • For a gymnast, we look at her shoulder positioning during a back handspring to make sure she has the range of motion to avoid excessive stresses on her back. 

Sports motion analysis at Children’s is done by a pediatric-trained sports physical therapist. Our sports physical therapists only work with kids and teens and are trained to recognize, identify and treat injuries for teens specifically.

You will receive a thorough breakdown of your teen athlete’s specific mechanics as it pertains to his sport. Movements are studied in precise detail, showing multiple angles of an athlete’s body, sometimes layered with other images and video. This allows us to identify small differences in technique for skill repetition and development.

Is Sports Motion Analysis Right for Your Athlete?

Sports motion analysis is a smart move for growing athletes for three important reasons:

  1. Helps avoid injuries.
  2. Works to enhance a safe return to sports when combined with sports physical therapy.
  3. Improves performance.

By taking a virtual look at an athlete’s motion, we can pinpoint problem spots and help fix them before injuries develop.

Some typical situations in which sports motion analysis can help: 

  • Athletes who are recovering from an injury and want to know when they can return to their sports and how to come back stronger than before
  • Athletes who have a nagging injury that won’t go away
  • Athletes who are looking to improve their performance, mechanics, strength, agility and speed

How does sports motion analysis lead to performance improvements?

The video technology captures the body’s motion and translates it into actionable data that our team of specialists uses to create improvement plans for athletes. A customized home exercise program helps athletes correct any errors and reinforce proper form and technique. These methods are based on rigorous science with proven evidence of results. 

What Sports Are Best for Sports Motion Analysis?

Sports motion analysis can benefit athletes in any sport. Our sports medicine team specializes in analyzing athletes who play the following sports:

  • Baseball and softball: Throwing analysis is helpful for athletes who are returning from or seeking to prevent injuries, such as Little League shoulder, Little League elbow, rotator cuff injuries and shoulder impingement. Key risk factors, such as posture, arm and elbow positioning, and lower-extremity mechanics, are evaluated.
  • Running: Running analysis is useful for athletes who are returning from or seeking to prevent injuries, such as patellofemoral stress syndrome (PFSS), IT band syndrome, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and stress injuries. Key risk factors, such as core and hip strength, and hip, knee and ankle positioning, posture and cadence, are evaluated.
  • Soccer: Soccer analysis is useful for evaluating the in-step kick for athletes who are returning from or seeking to prevent injuries, such as lower leg muscle strains, apophysitis, tendonitis, and back, hip, knee, ankle or foot pain. Key risk factors, such as posture, core and hip strength, lower-extremity flexibility, and mechanics, are evaluated.
  • Tennis: Serving and swing analysis is helpful for athletes who are returning from or seeking to prevent injuries like tennis elbow. Key risk factors, such as posture, arm and elbow positioning, and lower-extremity mechanics, are evaluated.
  • Cheerleading and gymnastics: Tumbling analysis is helpful for athletes who are returning from or seeking to prevent injuries like back pain and spondylolysis. Key risk factors, such as posture, core and hip strength, lower-extremity flexibility, and mechanics, are evaluated.
  • Dance: Dance analysis, including functional dance skills and turnout and position of lower extremity, is useful for athletes who are returning from or seeking to prevent injuries. Key risk factors, such as posture during functional dance positions, core and hip strength, lower-extremity flexibility, and mechanics, are evaluated.

What Types of Sports Motion Analysis Do We Offer?

We offer two types of analysis: 

  1. In-clinic sports motion analysis at one of our 12 sports medicine locations. This one-on-one session is 60 to 90 minutes in one of our clinics and includes a full sports physical therapy evaluation, video analysis with immediate feedback and a customized home exercise program. 
  2. Video upload analysis that can be completed remotely. Upload up to three videos of the same motion (plié, handspring, pitch, etc.). We will analyze them remotely and send the videos back with a customized home exercise program within five business days.