This suffusion of science onto the playing field is affecting all aspects of training, treatment and even player evaluation — informing coaches how to maximize the efficiency of their athletes or perhaps to decide which of them belong on the bench. Many of these same coaches used to resist having many doctors and scientists around their team. Now, they are embracing the potential of the latest technology in the hands of skilled practitioners.
“I love it,” L.S.U. Coach Ed Orgeron said. “It’s the facts. It’s not emotions.”
Orgeron watched keenly last year as his wide receivers and tight ends ran routes wearing goggles that monitored their pupils to detect which eye they favored when catching passes.
That helped Orgeron’s assistants design better routes for the receivers. A similar test for defensive linemen could help them get off the snap quicker, Orgeron said.
Few places have been as willing to experiment as L.S.U., where the football support staff includes two kinesiologists from the university’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and a full-time sports science research associate. They meet with the athletic trainer, Jack Marucci, three times a week.
Together, they have brainstormed some intriguing approaches to football players’ performance and wellness. There is, for instance, on the practice field, a 40-foot shipping container, chilled to 49 degrees, in which players can instantly cool down during hot summer workouts. Inside are two rows of bleachers for seating.