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Upside GPS Vendor Survey

Upside GPS Vendor Survey

Last year we conducted a 2020 Sports Tech survey to measure the impact of COVID-19 on sports tech budgets. We got great responses from 30+ pro teams (NBA, NFL, MLS, Ligue 1, Premiere League, Laliga..). You can see the survey summary here. 

We are now running a new GPS vendors survey (Catapult, STATS, Kinexon, Mclloyd, Wimu, etc..)  that we sent out to ATs, directors of sports science (NBA, MLS, NHL, NFL, European soccer..) that we work with. They are assessing GPS vendors in terms of quality, accuracy, pricing. etc. If you work for a team and use a GPS system, please take a moment to take our survey. It only take 2-3 minutes. All the data will be anonymized. We take privacy very seriously. 

Why should you take this GPS Vendors survey?

– Get unique insights from your peers on GPS vendors in terms of quality, accuracy, pricing.
Better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each GPS vendors.
– Leverage this GPS vendors data as part of your decision process for your next GPS system. 

We will send the summary report to all participants.

Here is the link to our online survey: https://form.jotform.com/211893052273151

Thank you,

Upside Team

NFT Reached $2.5B in 1H21. SoulCycle’s NY Sales Up +55%. Fitbit ring coming?

NFT Reached $2.5B in 1H21. SoulCycle’s NY Sales Up +55%. Fitbit ring coming?

Dear Colleague,

Last month was a busy month in the world of sports and technology. In the world of soccer, the European soccer championship saw some major upsets, with France the current World champion, being defeated against Switzerland. Italy won its first International trophy in 15 years by beating England in the final. Of note it’s been 55 years since England has not won a major international trophy in soccer. Messi also won its first international trophy after beating Brazil in the Copa America Final. In Tennis, Roger, now 40 years old, reached the quarter finals of Wimbledon while Djokovic shocked the world at the French by winning the title and beating Rafael Nadal along the way, and by winning Wimbledon this weekend. Djokovic has now won 20 grand slams, and is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal accounting for 20 each as well.

With 12 days to go before the Tokyo Olympics begin, it is set to be another busy month. There is no doubt in our mind that emerging technologies could have a major impact on athletes’ performance, recovery and injury prevention during these upcoming Olympics. It will be interesting to watch!

In the world of AR/VR and digital, Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap. In the world of wearables, Peloton is now working on a heart rate wearable while Facebook is allegedly working on a Facebook smartwatch that could have two cameras when it lands in 2022. In addition Fitbit is rumored to be working on a Fitbit smart ring. It is also worth pointing out that people are now going back to the gym. In fact, SoulCycle CEO recently said that as a result of that SoulCycle New York’s new membership sales increased 55% last May. In the blockchain/NFT world, the NFT market continues to gain strong momentum, with non-fungible tokens collectively making $2.5B in total sales in 1H21, up from $13.7 million in sales over the same period last year.


As a reminder, we launched our new Upside Global platform to bring together our sports, tech & health community of 2,500 executives under a single web platform. Members include executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Series A, Brazilian soccer league, Olympic teams, Pro tennis, as well as representatives of startups, brands, VCs, and athletes.

If you are a head athletic trainer, CTO, CMO of a major sports team or league looking to connect with the most innovative startups or connect with your peers to network, or if you are a startup CEO looking to connect with top teams or investors, you can join our Upside community of executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLBLaliga, English Premiere League, Olympic teams, top VCs, startups (AR, VR, wearables, sleep tech..) and more!

Your opportunity for growth starts now, create your free executive profile today to join our online community and click on “become a member today” as a first step. It is free to join! It only take one minute to create your profile.

Join the Upside online community

If you face any problems during the registration process, please click on the live support button on our website.


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week

⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

⭐ Upside Product Reviews of the Month: Fullpower Technologies, Sana Health

⭐ Upside VC Profile of the Month: Courtside Ventures

How NFTs are monetizing sports teams and athletes’ fanbases

Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap.

Peloton is working on a heart rate wearable

Facebook smartwatch could have two cameras when it lands in 2022

Fitbit smart ring is coming?

Startup investment recap (June/July 2021)

Tech Stats of the month

Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

With a sports tech industry valued at $11B, there has been an increasing focus from pro teams and leagues on sports tech startups over the year. But like most industries, sports teams and leagues are being approached by a myriad of sports tech startups. Unfortunately, most of those sports organizations do not have an effective way to truly vet those startups. Many of those sports tech startups, on the other end, often times do not have a solid business model as well as the ability or desire to go beyond the sports sector in order to scale their business. In this analysis we will analyze the state of the sports tech industry, and what needs to happen for sports tech startups to build a scalable business beyond sports.

To Read the full Upside analysis, click here.


 Upside Product Reviews of the Month

Upside video peer reviews of sleep tech company Fullpower Technologies:

This video review is featuring Philippe Khan / CEO, Arthur Kinsolving / CTO of Fullpower Technologies, and top sports performance experts (Derek LawranceDirector of Health and Performance at SJ Earthquakes/MLS, Daniel Hayes, Former Performance Director at LA Dodgers / MiLB; Brian Lee, Director, Sports Medicine at the LA Galaxy (MLS); Skylar Richards, Director of Physiology & Performance at Orlando City FC / MLS). Please note that at the time of this video review, Brian Lee was the Sports Medicine, Program Manager of Sports Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He now works for the LA Galaxy. Daniel Hayes also no longer works for the LA Dodgers.

To learn more about Fullpower Technologies click here. To learn more about Sana Health, click here.

You have a sports tech product and want to have reviews from top pro teams? You are a sports execs (athletic trainer, CTO..) and want to see reviews of vetted products from your peers, email us at julien@sportscouncilsv.com or join the Upside pro community here.


 Upside VC Profile of the Month

Read the full profile of Courtside Ventures and Vasu Kulkarni’s interview here.


NFT Sports News

How NFTs are monetising sports teams and athletes’ fanbases | Via : Insider Sport

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have quickly become established as a new means of fan engagement in the sporting space, with various high-profile teams and organisations rolling out their own digital collectibles. As NFTs begin to skyrocket with teams and leagues testing the waters of the innovative collectibles, Insider Sport breaks down the new means of revenue with the help of Amrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Zilliqa.

IS: Do you want to start by providing a rundown of what exactly NFTs are and the value they provide?

AK: NFTs are basically digital assets that sit on a blockchain, and the benefit of creating this blockchain is that for one, you can know who created the NFT and who is the owner of that NFT and at the same time, every time the NFT gets transferred from one person to another one, you can actually have that trail and that trail is established by the blockchain.

⬆️ The Upside: NFT in sports has been getting a lot of attention in the world of pro sports in the coming months with many leagues (NBA, NFL..), athletes (LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes..) launching their own NFT collections. One of the biggest success stories is the NBA’s Top Shot sales, which accounted for US$500 million in transactions in the first three months of the year. This was a third of the total US$1.5 billion in NFT transactions, according to DappRadar, which tracks blockchain markets. In our view, there is almost too much hype about the NFT sports market right now. Today many NFT sports startups have not built solid business models. This will be a key success factor for vendors to build a sustainable business long term.

Picture: NBA Top Shot


AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

Facebook granted patent for ‘artificial reality’ baseball cap. | Via : The Register

Facebook has been awarded a US patent titled “Artificial reality hat,” which consists of a display screen that hangs from the brim of a cap, as if it were a havelock worn backward. And the social ad biz applied for this patent fully aware of the failure of Google Glass, augmented reality eyewear that Google announced rather spectacularly in 2012, only to abandon in 2015 after recognizing its costly, conspicuous specs served no unique useful function in the consumer market, looked foolish, and often alienated people thanks to the behavior of glassholes – a term the Chocolate factory hated but eventually adopted. As Facebook sees it – with the benefit of hindsight and making no mention of its $2bn Oculus VR headset acquisition or related investments – eyewear has obvious problems not found in headwear.

“Manufacturers of artificial-reality systems have traditionally focused on various eyewear-based form factors, such as glasses and goggles,” Facebook’s patent explains. “Conventional artificial reality glasses and goggles, however, are sometimes thick, heavy, and unbalanced and/or may generate excessive heat that is uncomfortable against a user’s skin.”

⬆️ The Upside: We think this is an interesting move by Facebook. Facebook is gearing up to introduce consumer graded AR glasses in the next 24 months. For Facebook it will be key to offer AR consumer glasses that are esthetically pleasing, light weight, affordable ($300-$400), have long battery life, scalable optics. It will also be critical for Facebook to have very transparent privacy guidelines in order to avoid another Google glass fiasco. Next year, based on our intel, other key players are set to enter the AR consumer glasses market. This will fuel innovation and benefit consumers long term.

Facebook artificial reality hat illustration

Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

Peloton is working on a heart rate wearable | Via : Wareable

Fitness giant Peloton is preparing a wearable heart rate tracking device to use on its home workout platform. That’s according to a Bloomberg report, which references mentions in the company’s iOS app code. According to the report the company is prepping a heart rate monitoring armband, which would sync to its bikes and treadmills. It would have a small screen to show battery levels, but other than that would keep things fairly simple.

The device would also connect to the company’s iPad and iPhone app, which could mean a future closer to Apple Fitness+. This is all pretty unsurprising after it emerged earlier this year that the company had bought Atlas Wearables, which had produced the Atlas Wristband. That device was an awkward, unwieldy tracker of gym reps – so its technology and manufacturing seems as if it would be the bedrock for a reimagined device.

⬆️ The Upside: We think this would be a good by Peloton. It is worth pointing out that the former CEO of Atlas Wearables is now the head of AI at Peloton. With that in mind, we believe that Peloton will focus on offering a HR wearable device that will provide actionable health insights to Peloton users. This will help Peloton offer a differentiated product. We also expect the Peloton wearable to have a gamification feature, similar to the one offered on the Peloton platform, which will enable users to compete in real time and compare their performance in real time. This will help the daily engagement and stickiness of the upcoming Peloton wearable device.

Facebook smartwatch could have two cameras when it lands in 2022 | Via : Wareable

Facebook loves putting cameras on things – and it seems its smartwatch will be no different. In a report by The Verge, which is based on anonymous conversations with “people familiar with the project”, it’s alleged the forthcoming Facebook smartwatch will have two cameras built into the body.

Apparently the smartwatch will be designed to be removed from a stainless steel wrist strap to take snaps on the go, which can then be uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The front-facing camera will be designed or video calling, while there will be a 1080p camera on the rear for more serious photography. And, according to the report, Facebook is trying to recruit partners to support clipping this camera module to things like backpacks, in what seems a return to the idea of lifelogging that was all the rage in 2014. And it seems the Facebook Watch will hook up with its other wearable tech project – Facebook AR glasses. The Verge reports that Facebook is planning for future iterations of the watch to be a controller for AR experiences. Facebook is planning to release its smartwatch in 2022, and reports have also circulated that it could cost as much as $400.

⬆️ The Upside: This should not come as a surprise to see Facebook working on new hardware product. What Facebook is trying to do here is to create an AR hardware ecosystem (AR glasses, AR hat, AR watch as controller…) that will become very sticky over time. This is also part of Facebook’s big plan to create its own consumer hardware products to better compete against the Apple, Samsung, Amazon of the world. Now will Facebook succeed over time? So far, Facebook’s efforts are paying off as Facebook is currently the market leader in VR with 35% of market share. With 30% of its workforce working on AR/VR products, Facebook is also investing heavily in the space to make it happen. We also expect Facebook to continue to acquire AR/VR startups to strengthen its AR/VR/hardware strategy.

Fitbit smart ring is coming? | Via : Medhealthnews

Fitbit appears to be considering a new form for its health monitoring wearables based on a new patent registration filed last month.

The Google-owned wearable-maker shared insights into a “ring for optically measuring biometric data” such as blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), pulse, blood pressure, glucose levels and more. The filing focused on the SpO2 measurement features of the smart ring because the finger is the most common place to collect this data in clinical settings, according to Sensors. This measurement is taken by shining a light through the finger skin and blood vessels to a photodetector on the other side.

⬆️ The Upside: We think it would be a good move by Fitbit (now part of Google). There has been a lot of attention lately in the smart ring market due to the recent momentum of startups like Oura Health who signed deals with the NBA, NASCAR, the UFC, just to name a few. Fitbit’s other likely competitor there is Motiv. By doing so, it would help Fitbit further diversify its product offering with non invasive products like smart ring. Smart ring are a great new factor which allows pro teams to better monitor their players’ performance and recovery. Smart rings have also gained adoption lately in the context of COVID-19. In fact some athletes that used the Oura Ring were able to detect early signs of COVID-19 symptoms by tracking their sleep quality or temperature via the Oura ring.


Sports Tech & Health Investment Recap — June/July 2021

Here is the recap of the major sports startups’ investment in June/July 2021:

Source: Upside, 2021

Sports tech M&A in June/July 2021:

  • Endeavor China completed its $60 million acquisition of digital sports agency Mailman Group.
  • ABG purchased Sports Illustrated from Meredith for $110 million in 2019 after SI recorded millions in ad revenue losses.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Month

$211B: Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $211 billion.

$25B: Total costs for the Tokyo Olympics could reach $25 billion. Japan is projecting ticket revenue to reach $830 million.

$5B: Pokemon GO’ made $5 Billion in 5 years. Revenue jumped to $1.2 billion in 2020, a 41% increase from 2019. This year is set to be the best year ever for “Pokemon GO,” with 2021 revenue already up 34% from last year.

$2.5B: The NFT market is as hot as ever, with non-fungible tokens collectively making $2.5 billion in total sales in the first half of 2021. That figure shows explosive growth from the $13.7 million in sales over the same period last year. NFT sales grew to $81.1 million in the latter half of 2020, and then achieved exit velocity with NBA TopShot.

$1.38B: A 2018 study found that spending in England due to the European soccer championship rose by over $1.38 billion during the 2018 World Cup, which was played in Russia. France, which hosted the UEFA Euro 2016, generated $1.44 billion in economic activity from the tournament. UEFA made $1 billion in net revenue.

$250M: According to Forbes, the market value of Martin Braithwaite (Barca soccer player)’s business, also held with his uncle, is estimated at more than $ 250 million (212M euros).

$175M: The Ultimate Fighting Championship inked a 10-year, $175 million deal with Crypto.com that will put the trading platform’s branding on fighters’ apparel, training staff clothing, and in the Octagon fighting ring.

19.4M: Italy and Spain’s semifinal match, which Italy won on penalty kicks, drew an average of 19.4 million viewers in Italy and 11.7 million in Spain.

55%: SoulCycle CEO Webster says over 50% of SoulCycle’s locations are now open after many were forced to close during the pandemic. SoulCycle’s closures led to $350 million in losses last year. In May, the company said New York’s new membership sales had increased 55%.

20: After winning his 20th grand slam this weekend, Djokovic is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

9: PSG will soon have 9 goalies under contract when Donnarumma officially signs for PSG.

1: Messi won his first ever international trophy this weekend after beating Brazil in the Copa America final.


📸 Snapshots of the Week

NASA adidas shoes. Here are some new adidas shoes designed for NASA. Credit: Danny Dance (www.dannydancedesign.com)

True friendship. Messi & Neymar after the match at the Copa America.

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⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

⭐ Upside Analysis: Why there needs to be a focus on higher quality sports tech startups

With a sports tech industry valued at $11B, there has been an increasing focus from pro teams and leagues on sports tech startups over the year. But like most industries, sports teams and leagues are being approached by a myriad of sports tech startups. Unfortunately, most of those sports organizations do not have an effective way to truly vet those startups. Many of those sports tech startups, on the other end, often times do not have a solid business model as well as the ability or desire to go beyond the sports sector in order to scale their business. In this analysis we will analyze the state of the sports tech industry, and what needs to happen for sports tech startups to build a scalable business beyond sports.

Picture: Upside Global, 2021

Sports tech sector: A $11B industry

Over the year the global sports technology market has gained good momentum. Currently estimated at $11.7B, this market is expected to reach $12.19B in 2021, according to Grand View Research. This is why sports organizations (pro teams, leagues…) are increasingly focused on adopting sports technologies (AR/VR, GPS, sleep tech, AI, esports..) in order to help them improve the fans experience, grow their top line and reduce injuries. This translates into sports organizations launching sports accelerators, or VC funds. 

4000-5000 sports tech startups, but how many of those have a solid business model?

We are estimating that there are about 4000-5000 sports tech startups today. Now the question is: Of those 4000-5000 startups, how many of those startups have a truly innovative technology, a solid business model and the ability to scale their business? The answer is: Not many. Often times we are seeing small startups at a very early stage who cannot scale. Btw this is not a problem specific to the sports tech industry but a recurring issue for startups in general. This is why seeing some industry organizations claiming that they have a network of 4000-5000 sports tech startups is irrelevant in our opinion. The focus needs to be on high quality sports startups and finding the startups that have a truly unique and scalable technology and business model, not on startups that are too small (2-3 employees) and too early. 

NFT Sports startups, the perfect example of an overhyped sports tech sector

Take the NFT sports startup sector. Over the months there has been a tremendous amount of hype around the NFT Sports sector. Many sports leagues (NBA, NFL, etc..), athletes (Tom Brady..) are now jumping on the bandwagon in order to take advantage of the anticipated growth. Of note, the NFT market for non-fungible token art grew more than 800% in the first 4 months of 2021. It is now worth around $490M, but is only a sliver of the total NFT market, according to some reports.

But in our opinion, how many of the NFT sports startups have a solid business model or even have a business model at all? Not many. This is the perfect example of a sports tech industry that is overhyped. And in our opinion that needs to change in order for the NFT Sports market to reach its full potential. 

Decision makers (Head athletic trainers, CTOs, Director of digital experiences…) are looking for high quality startups

We have been working with athletic trainers, CTOs of sports teams and leagues for many years. These individuals are key decision makers in their organizations when it comes to buying emerging sports technologies. However the reality today is that they have very little time to look at thousands of startups. Often time they rely on their network of peers to assess sports tech startups. But this is a very manual and time consuming process. Those individuals are also often reluctant to try unproven technologies at very early stages. This is why there has to be a better way. This is why at Upside Global we have created a platform to enable them to quickly get access to vetted sports tech startups. 

The emergence of sports tech unicorns: Peloton, Fitbit…Fanatics. 

However on the bright side over the past few years we have seen the emergence of sports tech unicorns and exits. Notable exits include Fitbit (acquired by Google for $2B), Misfit (acquired by Fossil for $260M), Recon Instruments (acquired by Intel for $150M), just to name a few. Notable sports tech unicorns include Fanatics ($12.8B valuation), Discord ($2B valuation, funding approx. $270M, est. $5M in revenue), Calm ($1B valuation, funding  approx. $115M, est. $40M in revenue), Hudl ($460M valuation, funding approx. $110 Million, est. $15M in revenue), and TeamSnap (funding approx. $45 Million, est. $12M in revenue). More recently, startup unicorn Peloton became a public company and is now worth $36B in market cap. So what does that mean for the sports tech industry as a whole? It simply means that these sports tech unicorns have the ability to acquire small sports tech startups in order to enhance their product offering, and acquire engineering resources. The latest example being Peloton’s acquisition of Atlas Wearable. Peloton is now rumored to be working on a HR wearable device based on Atlas Wearables technology which is expected to be introduced next year. We expect more sports tech unicorns to go on a M&A spree which will help consolidate the sports tech industry. As a result of those sports tech unicorn startups going public we also expect executives from those unicorn startups to launch their own sports tech startups. The hope there is that these executives will have a solid knowledge of what it takes to build a sports tech startup at scale and some new sports tech startup unicorns. 

Teams’ 2020 Sports tech plan to invest in new technologies in 2021, specially in sleep tech, GPS, neurotech and mental health technologies.  

Last year we ran a survey with 30+ pro teams (NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, European soccer..) which clearly demonstrates that sports organizations’ continued appetite for sports technologies as they are looking to invest in emerging technologies like sleep tech, GPS, neurotech and mental health technologies in 2021. As shown in the graph below, 48% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that they plan to invest in sleep trackers in 2021. GPS systems remained a top priority moving forward with 44% of the athletic trainers planning to invest in GPS systems while 44% of them planned to invest in neurotech & mental health devices. This does not come as a surprise as being on quarantine likely affected some players mentally and trainers want to make sure that they can address any mental issues moving forward. 32% of them also planned to invest in HR monitors and video analysis systems. 32% of the athletic trainers also planned to invest in temperature sensing & screening solutions. This makes sense as many sports leagues plan to do temperature screening of players before each games when the competition resumes.

Hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions also gathered a lot of interest with 24% of the respondents indicating their plan to buy hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions. Lastly, 16% of athletic trainers also indicated their plan to invest in connected fitness (Peloton, Tonal..) in the future.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

If you want to learn more about this Upside 2020 Sports tech budget survey click here.

Only high quality sports tech startups are set to survive the COVID-19 crisis 

As Vasu Kulkarni recently pointed out to us, Sports is back with a vengeance. We think there is a ton of pent up demand for people to be outdoors and active, and sports will be the beneficiary of this. Certainly a number of companies had a rough year, but if they managed to survive, we think they will be stronger on the other side”. With that in mind we believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many sports tech startups to either pivot, build a more solid business model or simply shut down. We see this as a good thing. For example, we have seen many wearable sports startups pivoting and focusing on the healthcare industry in order to take advantage of the growing demand for wearables capable of monitoring patients’ health without contacts. For example, Kinexon ended up offering a contact tracing solution in order to enable organizations to better trace COVID-19 cases. This is just one of the many examples of sports tech startups pivoting but there are many other like this one.At the end of the day, we expect to see a growing number of sports tech startups shutting down due to the lack of funding, solid business model, or inability to pivot or adapt quickly…We think this is a good thing as it will help elevate the quality of sports tech startups in the long run. 

Sports tech startups need to go beyond sports to survive and scale

We are dealing with lots of sports tech startups on a weekly basis and we always tell entrepreneurs “focusing on the sports sector initially makes sense as it helps them create awareness about their product and startup, and refine their product, but it is critical for those startups to go beyond the sports sector in order to truly scale their business.

Put another way, in sports a wearable startup could end up equipping an NFL roster of 90 players with their wearable device, but they could also equip thousands of field workers of a large oil & gas or construction companies as well. The choice is clear on which strategy makes the most sense over time to enable them to scale faster, generate more revenue, help them increase their valuation and bring a solid ROI to investors in the long run.

We are already seeing startups adopt such strategy. One of them is Kenzen a wearable tech startup that initially focused on the sports industry but then pivoted to focus on the industrial (oil & gas, construction..) market today. Of note, we helped Kenzen transition from the sports industry to the industrial space, and land pilots with top industrial customers in the oil & gas, construction and energy sector. Kenzen is now working with some of the largest oil & gas, construction and energy companies in the world today. In the end it was the right strategy for this startup. It helped them raise more money, increase their valuation, and scale their business faster. We expect many other sports tech startups to follow suit and enter new verticals like healthcare, government in order to truly scale their business in the coming years. This is why we at Upside Global are also focusing on the healthcare and government sectors to help those sports startups make inroads into those other verticals to better scale their business over time.

Bottom line: The sports tech industry is more exciting than ever. However in our view there has to be a better focus on high quality startups. At the end of the day, pro teams and leagues care about using truly scalable and vetted technologies. The last thing they want is to work with a sports tech startup that might shut down in 12 months due to the lack of funding. Investors and VCs on the other end, want to invest in sports tech startups that have the ability to scale beyond sports in order to get the best ROI. In the end, if sports tech startups take the proper steps to be focused, and go beyond sports, it will be a win-win for everyone. 

To learn more about Upside Global, and help you find truly vetted sports tech startups, find investors or new customers, please contact at us at julien@sportscouncilsv.com or simply visit our website at Upsideglobal.

 

⭐ Upside VC Spotlight: Courtside Ventures

⭐ Upside VC Spotlight: Courtside Ventures

VC name: Courtside Ventures

Headquartered:  New York, NY

Founded: 2014

Founders: Vasu Kulkarni, Deepen parikh

Website: www.courtsidevc.com/

Sector: Sport Tech (Digital Media, Fitness, Wellness, Gaming + ESports)

VC type: Micro VC

Typical seed investment range: $500k to $2.5M (Seed or Series A stage).

Courtside Ventures invest in early-stage founders that are transforming the intersection of sports, technology, and media. Built on the backs of highly specialized sports and media entrepreneurs and investors, Courtside Ventures look to utilize their industry networks and deep domain knowledge to bring unparalleled value to their companies. They build long-term partnerships with management, by providing ongoing strategic support across all aspects of operations.

Total number of investments: 55

Total number of exits: 4

Courtside Ventures’ latest startup investments:

Source: Crunchbase

This week, we interviewed Vasu Kulkarni, Partner at Courtside Ventures, to discuss his VC’s investment thesis, area of focus, and what he is typically looking for when investing in startups. 

Q1. What are the areas of investments that your VC is focusing on? Why?

At a high level, we focus on areas where the next generation is spending their time and money. Specifically, that’s sports, collectibles, health / wellness, and gaming. We believe that these are areas that generalist VCs have ignored for a long time, while being verticals that our partners have a ton of experience in.

Q2. What are you typically looking for when investing in startups?

Market size is always the biggest concern for us, so we spend more of our time trying to understand the true market size of a concept. Then we focus on founders and why they are the right group to solve a certain problem. After that we look at everything from product quality to design philosophy, distribution plan, etc.

Q3. What do you think is the state of the sports tech industry after a year with COVID-19?

Sports is back with a vengeance. We think there is a ton of pent up demand for people to be outdoors and active, and sports will be the beneficiary of this. Certainly a number of companies had a rough year, but if they managed to survive, we think they will be stronger on the other side.

If you want to learn more about CourtsideVC, feel free to check out our Upside podcast interviews below with Vasu Kulkarni and Kai Bond at Courtside Ventures.

Upside Chat: Vasu Kulkarni, Partner (Courtside Ventures)

Upside Chat: Kai Bond, Partner, Courtside Ventures, on the Gaming/Esport Market

Bayern Munich Wins 6th Champions League Title. NASCAR Launches OTT Channel. NFL Names First Black Team President

Bayern Munich Wins 6th Champions League Title. NASCAR Launches OTT Channel. NFL Names First Black Team President

Dear Colleague,

We hope you had a great week last week. Last week, the NBA and NHL entered the playoffs while the MLS, NHL, and MLB continued their respective regular seasons.In the NFL, Jason Wright became the first Black team president in NFL history last Monday when the Washington Football Team announced his hiring. At 38 years old, Wright is also now the youngest president in the league. This is an historic moment in the world that we are living in. We expect other NFL teams to follow suit.

In Europe, Sevilla FC won the UEFA Europa League by beating Inter Milan FC 3-2. They won the trophy for a record-extending sixth time. Bayern Munich won its sixth UEFA Champions League Final with an edgy 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday. It was Bayern Munich’s 30th straight win all competitions this season. In the world of pro tennis, the US open tennis in NY is set to start on August 31th. This will be the first major tournament since the start of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in March.

In the world of AR/VR and digital, NASCAR strengthened fan engagement with the Motorsport.tv OTT channel launch. A new report indicates that 59% of UK sport fans have stated they would watch sport exclusively on online streaming platforms for the rest of the year, highlighting the growing importance of online services for traditional sports. In the wearable and connected fitness world, some new reports on the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 emerged with some leaks on the new health features. Nubia Watch, the 4G smartwatch, is making a comeback. In the world of esport, Formula One announced a $750K Prize Pool for its 2020 F1 Esports Series.


Last week we kicked off our Upside guest writers series. Our first article entitled “Whole-body cryotherapy multi exposures speed up performance supercompensation during the taper in functionally overreached endurance athletes”, was from Christophe Hausswirth, PhD, Professor, world’s expert in hydration, nutrition & Cryotherapy. If you have not read it click on the link below to read the full article.

Read the article on cryotherapy

As a reminder, in the coming weeks we will publish a series of articles and analyses from various experts (e.g. GPS research, sports performance/cryotherapy, biofeedback, 5G/WiFi 6 strategies in stadium, etc..). Here is our schedule of guest writers and articles for the coming weeks:

  • August 24: Article title:“5G, Wi-Fi 6 and the roar of the Crowd”. Author: Pete DeNagy, Founder IoT America / Managing Principal, Acommence Advisors. Pete DeNagy is the former GM of Samsung Enterprise.
  • September 3: Article title:“GPS-related research in Team Sport – Are we done or is there new windows of opportunity ?”. Author: Mathieu Lacome, Head of R&D, PhD, PSG (Ligue 1).
  • September 10: Article title:“Creatine Supplementation and its Effects on Performance”. Author: Daniel Hayes, Performance Coach, LA Dodgers (MilB).

Note: If you want to connect with Len, Mathieu, Christophe, Daniel, don’t forget to create your free Upside profile and join our online community by clicking on the button below.


Later this week on Wednesday we will publish our monthly Upside podcast interview with Dr. Ron Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University in the school of business. As a reminder Ron also worked for 20 years in sports, including 15 years in the NBA with the Sixers and the Nets, and then four years in the NCAA.

We discussed the major events that occurred during the month of August (MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS cup, College sports, diversity in sports).


As a reminder, we are now launching our new Upside Global platform to bring together our sports, tech & health community of 2,500 executives under a single web platform. Members include executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLB, Laliga, English Premiere League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Series A, Brazilian soccer league, Olympic teams, Pro tennis, as well as representatives of startups, brands, VCs, and athletes.

If you are a head athletic trainer, CTO, CMO of a major sports team or league looking to connect with the most innovative startups or connect with your peers to network, or if you are a startup CEO looking to connect with top teams or investors, you can join our Upside community of executives from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, MLBLaliga, English Premiere League, Olympic teams, top VCs, startups (AR, VR, wearables, sleep tech..) and more!

Your opportunity for growth starts now, create your free executive profile today to join our online community and click on “become a member today” as a first step. It is free to join! It only take one minute to create your profile.

Join the Upside online community

If you face any problems during the registration process, please click on the live support button on our website.


📰 Top Stories We’re Reading This Week

📺 NASCAR strengthens fan engagement with Motorsport.tv channel launch

👓 Robert Scoble: Facebook Identities On VR Are The Biggest Strategy Tax Of All Time (Guest Post)

⌚ Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 leaks point to amazing new health features

⌚ Nubia Watch is the embodiment of a smartwatch vision that nobody asked for.

🎮 CSM: Why more football clubs are transitioning into esports

💸 Latest Investment Trends

📊 Tech Stats of the Week

📸 Snapshots of the Week

Let’s jump right into the insights and upside for all of these top stories


🎮 AR/VR/Video/Digital Sports News

📺 NASCAR strengthens fan engagement with Motorsport.tv channel launch | Via : Insider Sport

NASCAR has boosted its fan engagement opportunities by launching a dedicated channel on Motorsport.tv, Motorsport Network’s digital OTT platform devoted to racing and automotive content. Through the association’s partnership with Motorsport Network, NASCAR will have the opportunity to create a variety of content, including behind the scenes footage, to an international motorsport audience. Additionally, the partnership will expand the reach of NASCAR’s shoulder content while increasing international exposure for its national series and partner brands.

Wyatt Hicks, managing director of NASCAR Digital Media, stated: “NASCAR is a truly worldwide brand, and now, courtesy of Motorsports Network, NASCAR fans located internationally will have access to more content than ever before from their favorite sport.  (..) “Motorsports Network, through its global distribution platform, is the perfect partner to help us serve our fans around the globe and deliver them the type of content that they crave.”

⬆️ The Upside: This OTT partnership between NASCAR and Motorsport.tv is a good move. This is part of NASCAR’s strategy to increase fan engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Of note, NASCAR’s virtual racing series set a new record in March, pulling in 1.3 million total viewers across Fox and FS1 to become the highest-rated televised esports event ever. This month also saw Mercedes partner with Motorsport Network to boost its Formula 1 and Formula E content. The global OTT streaming market is expected grow from $104.11 billion in 2019 to $161.37 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 55.0%. … The market is then expected to stabilize and reach $169.4 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 14.0% from 2021.

👓 Robert Scoble: Facebook Identities On VR Are The Biggest Strategy Tax Of All Time (Guest Post) | Via : New World Notes

Robert Scoble has co-authored four books on technology, the latest of which, “The Infinite Retina” lays out why Spatial Computing will reshape seven industries. He grew up in Silicon Valley and has had a front-row seat on the technology industry since he toured Apple Computer back in 1977. Here he takes some time away from his Summer vacation to give us some insights into why Facebook is forcing its users to use their real identities on its VR headsets sold under the Oculus brand name.

I’ve been watching the past few days as the VR industry has been outraged by a Facebook decision to force all its users on its VR headsets to sign up for a Facebook user account. When I worked at Microsoft we called this kind of decision to serve a business purpose, and not immediately improve customers’ lives, “a strategy tax.” This probably is the biggest strategy tax of all time. I get the outrage, but the industry will get over it quickly. Here’s why. In my experience consumers won’t pay hundreds of dollars more for competing devices that do less. In a few weeks I hear Facebook will announce a new device (and maybe more) that will be lower in price than the current Oculus Quest (which is a standalone device that costs $400). There are really no good competitors for a standalone device. The ones that exist cost more and do less (and that gap will get more stark over time due to the billions in R&D Facebook is spending). What the industry also isn’t getting is that this isn’t really about devices that are out today or coming tomorrow, but are about products that are being developed for 2022-2025 launches. Namely XR glasses that do some combination of augmented and virtual reality.

There are two fronts for why Facebook needs to tie users to real Facebook identities:

1. A pricing war with Apple.
2. A war over social functionality that soon will come.

All of these are about XR glasses. Let’s dig into each.

Read full article here

⬆️ The Upside: We believe that we are 2-3 years away before we see affordable hybrid AR/VR glasses become mainstream. The price point for consumer AR/VR glasses need to be in the $200-$500 price point in order to get traction. Now we believe that when Apple enters the AR glasses market in the next 24 months this will be a game changer. Many competing OEMs (Samsung, LG, Lenovo, Facebook..) will quickly follow suit with similar products. Then we will see a price war especially from the Chinese OEMs while OEMs like Apple will continue to offer AR glasses at a premium.


🚑 Wearables, Health, Nutrition News

⌚ Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 leaks point to amazing new health features | Via : Wareable

There’s been rumblings of Fitbit preparing new smartwatches, and a new leak gives us a hint of some top new features. Images of a possible Fitbit Versa 3, all-new Fitbit Sense and Inspire 2 have popped up on WinFuture, and there are plenty of details to be gleaned. We’re going to caveat everything by saying that we’re assuming these leaks to be genuine because of the quality of the images, and that Fitbit devices always leak before IFA every year. But of course, this could all be nonsense.

Most exciting is the Fitbit Sense, a brand-new line for Fitbit. It looks like the Versa 3, but with a more premium looking design. Some conveniently placed icons on the rear of the device give us clues to a high-end, wellness-orientated feature set. We can’t be sure what they mean, but the first looks like it could be electrocardiogram (ECG), the second temperature, with GPS and 50m water resistance looking like dead certs at the end. This would be a great feature set for a Fitbit device. Adding ECG would catch up with the Apple Watch Series 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, and tracking body temperature would be hugely compelling considering the global pandemic. Body temperature has been a key focus of wearables being trialled for early warning devices for COVID-19, and can also be used for fertility tracking, which is already part of the Fitbit feature set.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe this would be a good move by Fitbit. From a feature standpoint it makes sense for the Fitbit Sense to be packed with ECG sensor. Fitbit is playing catch up here as ECG has become the new norm. Many competitors like Apple, Withings, Samsung already offer ECG sensing as part of their smartwatch offering. Now regarding the temperature sensing feature, it is worth pointing out that we are only talking about measuring “skin temperature” not “body temperature”. What Fitbit needs to do get an edge over its competition is to instead measure “body temperature” measurement and add new biosensing capabilities like hydration, electrolyte, and BP measurement.

Picture : Smartwatchs Fitbit Sense and Versa 3

⌚ Nubia Watch is the embodiment of a smartwatch vision that nobody asked for. | Via : Wareable

A few years ago, in the days before Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and WearOS, the default futuristic vision of a smartwatch was one of a giant, cuff-like, device with a screen wrapping around your wrist. The early renders and design concepts we’d see were more like smartphones people could wear rather than the genuinely stylish watches we see adorned with cutting-edge tech nowadays. But that hasn’t stopped ZTE from unleashing its second attempt at a smartwatch that nobody has asked for. And the Nubia Watch has just gone live on Kickstarter, a follow up to last year’s Nubia Alpha prototype. I’ve had the Nubia Watch wrapped around my wrist for the past few days – here’s what you need to know. It’s massive. It’s chunky. It, in no way, resembles a regular watch. But that’s not really the point is it? It’s all about that staggeringly large (for a smartwatch, at least) 4.01-inch, 960 x 192 (244ppi), flexible AMOLED display. Unlike the Alpha, which curved the whole screen, it’s kind of split into three sections.

It’s hard to knock the Nubia Watch. Perhaps it deserves some ridicule and I don’t actually believe there’s a genuine market for it – especially in the western world. But it kind of sets out to do and be exactly what it intended to be – a novelty, ‘futuristic’, smartwatch with a USP that no other smartwatch is offering; i.e. that mahoosive flexible AMOLED display. It’s buggy as heck, the app still feels in the early stages of beta testing and the software feels familiar to 2013’s Samsung Galaxy Gear. But it’s also a real head turner. People are going to ask you, “What the hell is that?” if you wear it out and about. It’s up to you if that’s a good or a bad thing. The Nubia Watch is on sale in China for 1799 yuan, which is around $260. On Kickstarter the super early bird price is $179 for the first 200 sold.

⬆️ The Upside: We believe the Nubia Watch is more of an experiment than anything else. It is too bulky, too heavy, and we believe there is a real market for it. Not to mention that the 4G and LED flexible screen are likely greatly impacting the battery life. We don’t expect ZTE to take share away from the likes of Apple or Samsung in the smartwatch market.


🎮 Esports & Crypto-Currency News

🎮 CSM: Why more football clubs are transitioning into esports | Via: Insider Sport

Football is one of the biggest sports in the world, with Premier League clubs generating an estimated £1.55 billion in commercial revenue for the 2019/20 season, according to Deloitte.  However, 2020 has seen more football clubs transition into the virtual world by investing in the esports sector, whether that be through marketing campaigns or creating a competitive gaming brand. Speaking at ESI Digital Summer, James Gallagher-Powell of CSM Sport & Entertainment, a global integrated marketing and brand experience agency, explained why the world of esports is so enticing to football clubs.

“Why do football clubs and esports even make sense at all? So the reasons are fourfold. Firstly to attract a younger audience,” Gallagher-Powell stated. “In terms of this younger audience, I’m sure that many of you have seen the stats before, probably from a brand sponsor perspective. So why do brands think about sponsoring an esports property over traditional sports property? (…) “The average age for a Premier League fan is 42 and rising, and no doubt is higher than 42 within developed fan markets like in the UK. This ageing fan base begs two questions to football clubs: How do the clubs ensure their longevity and remain relevant to the next generation of sports fans? And how do they ensure that their club remains attractive to potential sponsors? (..) Esports can provide the perfect channel for this. It’s a way that clubs can attract a younger audience to their core operations, i.e football, and it can help clubs to safeguard their future popularity and therefore their future profitability.”

As Gallagher-Powell discussed, esports has a much younger demographic, compared to other traditional sports. According to the presentation, the average audience for esports is 26, which is nearly double that of the NFL (50).

Gallagher-Powell added: “Esports can also act as a bit of a hedge against future decline in footballing revenues. The long term bull view on esports is they will have parallels with the growth in franchise value that we’ve seen in traditional sports over the last 20 years, we’re expecting significant growth on all revenue streams across sponsorship, broadcast, and merchandise.

“It’s an extension of the existing football brand with a younger fanbase than they might typically have with just football and play future-proof themselves within that as well (..) “The flip-side somewhat so that is the PSG case. Which is certainly more costly, but what PSG have done in eSports quite broadly today is generally at least one of the few examples I use when showing football clubs the full potential of what they could gain and what they could benefit from for being involved in in esports, as we see here, there in Dota, they’re in FIFA, for sure, but they’re in Brawl Stars, they’re in League of Legends.”

Read full article

⬆️ The Upside: As we pointed out before, esport is a great new medium for soccer teams to attract new demographics especially a new audience. Some soccer teams have done a better job than others implementing their esport strategy . Getting a good ROI remains the #1 question among soccer teams. In our view we are still in the early days of esports as part of major soccer clubs. To learn more you can check out our analysis on esport: Hype VS reality.

Picture : PSG, esport


💸 Sports Tech & Health Investment (Fund raising, M&As) Trends — August 2020

  • Sports streaming company DAZN is reportedly looking to raise $1 billion. Read on here.
  • Odyssey Interactive has raised $6M for a Canadian game studio founded by former Riot Games developers. Read on here.
  • Mental health coaching startup Ginger raises $50M. Read on here.

📊 Key Tech Sports Stats of The Week

$4.6B: As the NFL season approaches, billions of TV ad revenue are at stake. Last year, the league generated $3.3 billion in regular season ad revenue and $1.3 billion in the postseason. The NBA, NHL and MLB combined for $2 billion in national TV ad revenue last year. There’s also another $1.7 billion in TV ad revenue tied to college football, which has already lost two Power 5 conference seasons.

$2.8B: Jim Pallotta is selling his minority share of the Boston Celtics, according to three people familiar with the matter. Pallotta is selling his 8% stake in the Boston Celtics team to Steve Pagliuca. Pagliuca, a managing director at Bain Capital, is buying the stake at a $2.8 billion valuation, said one of the people, who was granted anonymity because the sale hasn’t been approved by the NBA.

$680M: A recent Washington University in St. Louis study found NHL, NBA and MLB game-day employees would lose at least $680 million from canceled games in 2020. NFL workers could lose another $100 million. To date, 12 NFL teams have announced they will start the season without fans in attendance.

$280M: Adidas, Nike and Under Armour stand to be some of the companies hit the hardest by college sports postponements, as each brand has millions tied up in school contracts.

Before the Pac-12’s season was shelved, Under Armour was attempting to get out of its deals with schools like UCLA and Cal. Among the brand’s reasons for trying to terminate the deals: the schools failing to fulfill contract obligations and, in the case of Cal, sales of out-of-date apparel by a third-party.

Largest College Apparel Deals in Big Ten and Pac-12:

— $280 million: Under Armour’s 15-year deal with UCLA

— $137.8 million: Nike’s 15-year deal with Michigan

— $119 million: Adidas’ 10-year deal with Washington

$95M: International rights remain the weak point of the French soccer league. BeIN is paying just $95 million per year through the 2024 season. But it is widely believed a material increase is on the horizon. As media rights consultant Dan Cohen explained, “ next comparison up—Serie A—is getting $330 million annually for their international rights, so there is a big disparity there and plenty of room for growth.”

$34M: Tennis remains the most lucrative sport for women as nine of the top 10 highest-paid female athletes of 2020 make their living playing the sport.  Naomi Osaka leads the list, making $34 million through 15 endorsement partners, including Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways and Nissin. Roger Federer was the only tennis player of either gender to earn more money than Osaka through endorsements.

Top 5 Highest Paid Female Athletes: 

  1. Naomi Osaka: $37.4 million
  2. Serena Williams: $36 million
  3. Ashleigh Barty: $13.1 million
  4. Simona Halep: $10.9 million
  5. Bianca Andreescu: $8.9 million

$615K: A pair of Michael Jordan’s game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1 shoes were auctioned off for a record $615,000 last week. Jordan wore the shoes in a 1985 exhibition game in Italy, and a piece of the backboard — shattered by a Jordan dunk — is still embedded in the shoe.

87K: Stadium concessionaires are among the hardest hit by leagues resuming without fans. Last June, there were about 182,000 people directly employed by the spectator sports industry.  This year, that number was 87,000.

8,022: The MLS’ safety protocol seemed to prevent team-to-team transmission and since July 14, MLS has administered 8,022 tests with zero confirmed positive results.

59%: According to a report by live video production company Grabyo, 59 per cent of UK sport fans have stated they would watch sport exclusively on online streaming platforms for the rest of the year, highlighting the growing importance of online services for traditional sports.

30: Bayern Munich’s win over over PSG this weekend, was the 30th straight win all competitions this season.

10.6: Top ten fastest players in world revealed with Kylian Mbappe clocking staggering 10.6 metres per Second.

6: Bayern Munich won its sixth UEFA Champions League Final with an edgy 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday.


📸 The Upside: Snapshots & video of The Week.

2020 US Open Tennis in the bubble: We are just a few days away from the official start of the 2020 US open tennis in NY. Jason Jung, a pro tennis player, gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the bubble of tournament.

From the MLS to Champions League winner. Alphonso Davies is an inspiring story. He went from playing in the MLS a few years ago to winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich.

Start-Up Nation is now a cyclist team too. Israel Start-Up Nation (UCI team code: ISN) is a UCI World Tour team founded in 2014 by Ron Baron and Ran Margaliot and based in Israel. Prior to 2020 the team was known as Israel Cycling Academy.

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Upside Guest Writers: Recovery from Overreaching using Whole-Body Cryotherapy, By Christophe Hausswirth, PhD, world’s expert in hydration, nutrition & Cryotherapy.

Upside Guest Writers: Recovery from Overreaching using Whole-Body Cryotherapy, By Christophe Hausswirth, PhD, world’s expert in hydration, nutrition & Cryotherapy.

This week, we have the honor to have Christophe Hausswirth, PhD, Professor, world’s expert in hydration, nutrition & Cryotherapy, write an article for The Upside on Whole-body cryotherapy multi exposures speed up performance supercompensation during the taper in functionally overreached endurance athletes”.  Yann Le Meur, performance expert from the Université Côte d’Azur, LAMHESS (Nice, France) was also the co-author of this study. Of note, Christophe, who is the former head of R&D at INSEP, and founder of beScored Institute in Sophia-Antipolis (France), works with Serena Williams and top athletes. Today we are publishing his first article.

Title: Recovery from Overreaching using Whole-Body Cryotherapy

By Christophe Hausswirth, PhD, Professor

HEADLINE

In many endurance sports, the competitive season involves a series of events that can stretch over several weeks or months (e.g. cycling, triathlon, biathlon). The resulting combination of frequent competitions with short tapers largely increases the risk of functional overreaching (F-OR) resulting in a decline in performance. Even though the F-OR state is generally reversed when an appropriate period of recovery is provided (~1-2 weeks), it can compromise the competition outcome in the short term. A recent study suggested that daily whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) exposures may mitigate the signs of F-OR during intensified training blocks (i.e. reduced sleep quantity, increased fatigue, and impaired exercise capacity) (1) but more research remains required to confirm this finding.

AIM

This aim of the present study was to investigate whether multiple WBC exposures would represent a convenient tool for recovering from F-OR by speeding up the performance supercompensation during a 1-week taper programmed after a heavy load training period in well-trained endurance athletes.

METHODS

Athletes. Sixteen triathletes volunteered to participate in this study (32 ± 4 y, VO2max 63 ± 6 mLO2.min-1.kg-1). All subjects had competed regularly for the past 2 years and were training a minimum of 6 times.wk-1. Their typical performance level over the Olympic distance triathlon ranged between 2h00 and 2h20. The experimental design of the study was approved by the Ethical Committee of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (acceptance no. 10054) and was carried out in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Prior to participation in the investigation, subjects underwent a medical assessment. After comprehensive verbal and written explanations of the study, all subjects gave their written informed consent.

Design. The protocol is illustrated in Figure 1. During the taper (phase IV), the subjects were assigned to either a 1) WBC F-OR group or a 2) control F-OR group depending on their performance response at Mid and on their availability to perform one WBC session per day during the taper phase. The WBC F-OR group had one exposure (-110°C) per day during one week between 5 pm and 8 pm. WBC sessions were administered in a specially built, temperature-controlled unit (Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH, Ulm, Germany). During each WBC session, subjects remained in the therapy room for 3 min. The subject of the control F-OR group performed the same training program than the WBC F-OR group but they were not exposed to WBC. During the 48 h prior to each maximal oxygen uptake ( O2max) test, the participants were required to follow a nutritional plan in order to ensure adequate muscle glycogen stores for the performance tests.

 

Figure 1: Whole Body Cryotherapy group

Methodology. At the end of phases II (Pre), III (Mid) and IV (Post), the athletes performed a performance test consisting in a maximal incremental running test on a 340-m indoor running track. To ensure that performance variations during the maximal incremental runs were due to the global training regimen and not to the training session(s) performed the day before each test, the subjects were required to respect a 24 h rest period before each maximal incremental run session. The maximal incremental running tests allowed to determine a running performance through the total distance covered during the test by each triathlete. The test began at 11 km.h-1 and the speed was increased by 1 km.h-1 every 3 minutes until volitional exhaustion. The effect of the training regimen was also recorded through the assessment of the perceived fatigue of subjects before each test at rest.

ANALYSES

Assessment of overreaching. The triathletes who demonstrated decreased performance (vs. Pre) and high perceived fatigue (“very tired” to “extremely tired” on the fatigue scale) at Mid with subsequent performance supercompensation were diagnosed as F-OR (2).

Statistical analysis. The data were analyzed using the magnitude-based inference approach (3). The magnitude of the within-group changes, or between-group differences in the changes, were interpreted by using values of 0.2, 0.6, 1.2, 2.0 and 4.0 of the within-athlete variation (CV) as thresholds for small, moderate, large, very large and extremely large differences in the change between the trials or between the two groups. The mean typical within-athlete variation of each measured parameter was determined in a parallel group of eight control triathletes tested before and after a 3-week period of habitual training (data not presented here). To be diagnosed as overreached, the participants had to reveal a performance decrement higher than the largest variation reported in this control group (i.e. overreaching threshold, 3.3%). Quantitative chances of higher or lower differences were evaluated qualitatively as follows: <1%, almost certainly not; 1-5%, very unlikely; 5-25%, unlikely; 25-75%, possible; 75-95%, likely; 95-99%, very likely; >99%, almost certain. If the chance of higher or lower differences was >5%, the true difference was assessed as unclear.

RESULTS

For two subjects, the performance drop during the overload period did not reach the overreaching threshold despite a high perceived fatigue score. They were diagnosed as “acutely fatigued” (2) and were excluded from subsequent analyses. Thus, the subsequent results are presented for 14 F-OR subjects distributed in a control F-OR group (n = 7) and a WBC F-OR group (n = 7). The evolution of performance and perceived fatigue in both group are presented in Figure 2 and Table 1, respectively. An almost certain extremely large decrease in running performancewas observed in both groups during the overload training period (-8.8% ± 5.0% and -11.9% ± 2.6% in the F-OR control group and in the F-OR WBC group, respectively). The difference in change between both groups during this period was unclear (-3.0 ± 4.2%). At Post, both group demonstrated an almost certain higher performance than at Pre (+5.4 ± 4.6% and +10.0 ± 5.2% in the F-OR control group and in the F-OR WBC group, respectively), with a likely larger improvement in the F-OR WBC group (+4.2 ± 4.5%, very large).

 

Figure 2: Evolution of performance and perceived fatigue in 2 groups

DISCUSSION

Results showed that completing multi exposures to WBC induced a larger performance supercompensation after a simulated one-week taper in functionally overreached endurance athletes (+4.2 ± 4.5%). No between-group difference were reported while considering the changes in perceived fatigue level at rest but both groups returned to baseline values at the end of the taper phase.

While previous studies have already demonstrated that peak performance can be optimized by modifying training parameters (i.e., volume, intensity, frequency, taper pattern) (4) or using nutritional strategies (5), this study shows that daily cold exposure during a simulated 7-day taper is likely to help endurance athletes to improve the magnitude of performance supercompensation. More research is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying this result but preliminary findings showed that multiple exposures to WBC after a period of heavy training may mitigate the signs of accumulated fatigue during intensified training blocks (e.g.. reduced sleep quantity and increased perceived fatigue) (1). We cannot exclude that a placebo effect may also have played a substantial role in the present study. WBC multi-exposures could potentially have motivated participants to sustain higher exercise intensity during the performance test at the end of the taper phase than their control counterparts. Lastly, further research is required to determine if such finding may also be observed while using cold water immersion, which represents a more convenient and less expensive cold exposure recovery therapy.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

·       Multi exposures to WBC may likely influence positively recovery in F-OR endurance athletes.

·       The present results specifically support the use of WBC multi-exposure – and more generally the importance of optimizing recovery – for endurance athletes in the context of short tapers.

LIMITATIONS

·       The decrease in performance during the intensified training period was slightly larger in the WBC F-OR group (-11.9 ± 2.6% vs -8.8 ± 5.0% in the WBC F-OR group and in the control F-OR group, respectively). This point may potentially have influenced the performance rebound during the taper phase. Nevertheless, maximizing the fatigue level during the pre-taper phase does not necessarily contribute to an improved subsequent performance response. In fact, we recently reported that maximizing a state of overreaching during a pre-taper phase may even be harmful and that it could reduce the subsequent performance supercompensation (6).

DATASET

Dataset available on SportPerfSci.com.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The French Federation of Triathlon supported the study. We are thankful to the athletes for their participation.

REFERENCES

1. Schaal K, Le Meur Y, Louis J, Filliard JR, Hellard P, Casazza G, Hausswirth C. Whole-Body Cryostimulation Limits Overreaching in Elite Synchronized Swimmers. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47(7): 1416-25.

2. Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Nieman D, et al. Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013;45(1): 186-205.

3. Hopkins WG, Marshall SW, Batterham AM, Hanin J. Progressive statistics for studies in sports medicine and exercise science. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(1): 3-13.

4. Bosquet L, Montpetit J, Arvisais D, Mujika I. Effects of tapering on performance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc.2007;39(8): 1358-1365.

5. Walker JL, Heigenhauser GJ, Hultman E, Spriet LL. Dietary carbohydrate, muscle glycogen content, and endurance performance in well-trained women. J Appl Physiol. 2000;88(6): 2151-2158.

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FIGURE 1. Schematic representation of the experimental protocol. WBC: whole-body cryotherapy.

FIGURE 2. Changes inperformance from baseline during the maximal incremental running test before (Pre) and after the overload period (Mid) and at the end of the 1-week taper (Post) for the control F-OR group (A) and the WBC F-OR group (B). Within-group difference in change vs. Pre: *likely, **very likely, ***almost certain. Between-group difference in change vs. overreached control: #likely, ##very likely, ###almost certain. The shaded area represents the smallest worthwhile change (see Methods). WBC: whole-body cryotherapy; F-OR: functional overreaching.

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