NFL hopefuls’ movement analysis data offers ‘a blueprint for motion’


Data has transformed the personnel side of coaching in football, with GPS tracking and machine learning being used to anticipate player success from college through to the NFL, but there are still significant gains left to be had. Elite coach Pete Bommarito and sports scientist Dr. Monique Mokha are taking football analytics to a new level using motion capture.

“The game today isn’t just ‘I’m injured, I had surgery, I go to physical therapy, now I’m returning to train and I’m returning to play’,” explains Pete Bommarito. “No, sports itself is stress, and quantifying the magnitude of what sports does to the body helps the overall game.”

Bommarito has a background in sports and clinical biomechanics, but has built his career as a practitioner offering elite-level coaching to athletes through his company, Bommarito Performance Systems. He’s discussing a study of would-be NFL players that he and Dr. Mokha, a Professor of Health and Human Performance at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, USA, are undertaking.

The pair met at a conference in 2017 and got talking. We were just sketching ideas, like two battery sparks popping back and forth. And then as our lab at Nova started developing, we started asking, What’s possible?’” says Dr. Mokha.

Bommarito and Dr. Mokha have established an annual project that uses motion capture and other technologies to quantify the performance of NFL hopefuls ahead of the Scouting Combine and Pro Day, which gives talent assessors an opportunity to see players undergo a battery of physical and mental tests.

They worked out a system that involves Bommaritos athletes being tested in Dr. Mokhas lab ahead of his pre-Combine training camp, with data on each player being fed to Bommarito before training starts. Following the six to eight week camp, players return to the lab, which has 10 Vicon T-Series cameras and a Bertec treadmill, to be tested again so that the research team can analyze changes in the athletes performance.

Quantifying acceleration

“Its not just draft prep and having people run fast,” explains Bommarito. “Its a blueprint for motion, period. Anytime youre moving in sport, you are accelerating. People talk about multidirectional sports, and how you’ve got to be able to change direction. Well, thats great, but the challenge of changing direction is accelerating out of the change of direction. That is a stride that needs to be quantified.”

Bommarito says that the study is proving his theory that speed and injury prevention are related. “If youre striving towards symmetry, you will not only be more efficient in terms of your speed, youre going to be more efficient in terms of injury prevention,” he says.

“Thats a theory Ive had for years, but we’ve had to look at symmetry using all the medical disciplines: look at that holy grail of maximizing the splits, maximizing your time, and finding that when the medical team says were symmetrical, and were running better. But its got to be quantified. And now were actually proving my theory to be accurate, that symmetry equals not only injury prevention, but performance.”

Because the study is focused on training for the speed- and strength-focused Combine and Pro Days, rather than football-specific skills, its applications arent limited to football. “Were able to document the movement strategies that change when youre trying to get someone faster,” says Dr. Mokha.

The story doesn’t stop there, to read the full case study, you can download it below.


Get in touch

    Would you like to receive relevant email marketing about Vicon’s products & services? (Opt out at any time.)