10 Benefits of Electronic Timing
by Racer X Virtual Trainer
Electronic timing in track and field is as common as using your motorcycle in motocross. You can't race without a motorcycle and in Track and Field you don't race or train without timing. Using a handheld stop watch in motocross is fairly common (at least at the pro level) but there are draw backs to that method. Accuracy and the lack of immediate feedback, two components that are crucial to using timing to improve lap times, are the biggest problems. There are a few good electronic timing systems on the market and one of the better systems is the kit from Freelap Timing. Below is an article from Freelap that I believe illustrates exactly why electronic timing is important when practicing motocross. The article is written from a Track and Field point of view but most of the points can be applied directly to motocross. I've even added my two cents worth at the end of each point. Enjoy! - Virtual Trainer
High school and college coaches are integrating electronic timing into their speed training programs. Here are ten reasons why.
- Increase Performance
The application of electronic timing at practice increases arousal in athletes. Ballistic athletes have a compelling desire for immediate feedback: it motivates them to increase performance and focus during training sessions. - For motocross, I feel this applies 100%. And for riders who train alone, electronic timing is the only solution. Lap times are an extremely important piece of data that must be available to the rider as soon as the lap is complete.
- Intervene to Stop Sessions
The accuracy of electronic timing allows the coach to closely monitor athlete performance during a workout. When times drop off, the coach can intervene to shut down the workout. The emphasis, therefore, is on quality based on time rather than on quantity with a fixed number of repetitions. - Another point that translates 100% to motocross. This applies whether a rider is using a coach or riding alone.
- Train Groups
A track coach typically trains a group of athletes. Some groups, particularly high school track teams, can be quite large, with 200 or more athletes. Electronic timing technology is capable of measuring multiple athletes simultaneously, enhancing workflow while enabling the coach to collect useful data. - This relates more to training facilities and in my opinion if your facility is not using some sort of electronic timing, look for another place to train.
- Train Individually
Various circumstances force some elite and masters athletes to train on their own, occasionally or often. Electronic timing provides them with objective feedback and challenges them to compete with their number one competitor: themselves. - This point translates to motocross more than any of the rest. If I had to guess, I'd say over 90% of riders practice without the aid of an assistant taking and recording lap times.
- Coach Remotely
Ideally, an athlete should train under the supervision of a coach. But that’s not always possible. Work or family or educational or other commitments can make it necessary for an athlete to train alone and at a location other than the usual coaching venue. Electronic timing allows the coach to plan workouts for the athlete and to review objective timing data collected by the athlete. - Only applies to the select few who have coaches monitoring their riding sessions. But still a valid point.
- Focus on Technique
Veteran track coaches are often skilled with a handheld stopwatch. Accurate timing, however, requires that the coach focus on the clock rather than the athlete’s technique. Using a handheld stopwatch also typically dictates where the coach must stand in relation to the athlete to minimize parallax error. An interruption, meanwhile, from athletes other than those being timed can distract a coach and result in missed times. Electronic timing permits the coach to focus on an athlete’s technique, to view athletes from any vantage point, and to collect valuable timing data even amid distractions. - This relates to motocross in a slightly different way in my opinion. I feel that electronic timing keeps a coach honest when teaching a new technique. Was that time through the whoops using the coach's method really faster or did the coach "cheat" and tell the rider a faster time to support his method. Egos are huge in motocross and electronic timing does not lie.
- Assess Event Drills
Track meets provide an opportunity to accurately assess an athlete’s performance in an event, but they do not provide data on the drills or subcomponents that prepare the athlete for that event. Electronic timing at practice, on the other hand, can provide data on, for example, how efficiently a baton moves through an exchange zone in a 4 x 100 hand-off. Other examples include feedback on maximum velocity in a 30-meter fly-in sprint, on acceleration out of the blocks over the first 10 meters, on hurdle cycle splits, on runway velocity for the horizontal jumps and pole vault. And that’s just for starters. - In motocross the flexibility of electronic timing gives the rider the ability to set the system up at various points around the track. A rider can work on sections and have immediate feedback as to which line or technique was faster. It also lets the rider know when to take a break when times consistently fall off.
- Measure Progress
Over the years, many training techniques have been devised, explored, professed, and then later debunked and abandoned. An essential question to ask is the following: Is what you are doing working? Are you sure? Does the timing data—from a single workout and across multiple workouts in a single season and over multiple seasons—support your belief? - Lap times do not lie....
- Collect Data
It is easier to chart where you are going if you know where you have been. Electronic timing provides the opportunity to collect meaningful data for a group of athletes on a variety of tasks throughout a training season and across many seasons. This data can be analyzed when planning for and making adjustments to future workouts and seasons. - The top trainers I know have thick log books containing nothing but lap times. Do you?
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- Breed Success
The number of high schools, colleges, and Olympic coaches that have integrated electronic timing into their training programs has grown in recent years. And so has the number of athletes who have enjoyed noteworthy success as a result of more accurate input. Athletes whose training involves electronic timing include Olympic and World Championship medalists in indoor and outdoor sprints, hurdles, and other ballistic events. - I know of several pros and training facilities who use electronic timing. Over the years timing systems have become affordable that even the most modest of budgets can afford one. The pros are using them....why not you!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.