WHOOP has officially been approved by Major League Baseball to be worn in games for the upcoming 2017 season. The WHOOP Strap is the first continuous product of its kind to be given such approval by MLB and this also marks the first opportunity for professional athletes to officially wear WHOOP during games in U.S. pro sports.
How might players and teams look to utilize WHOOP in games? One obvious possibility is the manner in which pitchers are deployed. Traditionally, managers tend to remove starting pitchers when their pitch counts get too high. But, what if there’s a better way to gauge whether or not a pitcher can continue to be effective?
The WHOOP Day Strain metric (which represents a running total of the Strain an athlete’s body has taken on that day) might provide a more accurate assessment of a pitcher’s well being than pitch count. Teams would have the ability to note the occasions pitchers were hit hard in the later innings of games and compare their Strain levels at the time. Clubs could find out that Player X is no longer effective when his Day Strain hits a certain number, regardless of whether he’s thrown 50 pitches or 100 pitches to that point.
Last year, WHOOP and MLB conducted the largest performance study in the history of pro sports. More than 200 players from 28 minor league teams spanning 9 different organizations took part. The participants wore WHOOP Straps continuously around the clock, with the exception of when they took the field for games. By monitoring the athletes during the other 21 hours per day, WHOOP was able to obtain enormous amounts of quantifiable data with numerous practical applications. The study revealed findings on the effect of travel, correlations between Recovery and in game performance, and injuries. It also demonstrated that players wanted to voluntarily wear WHOOP to better understand their bodies.
I have to compliment MLB on the steps that they took to understand the WHOOP technology. From a process standpoint: They listened to their teams that were interested in buying the product, they listened to us as we explained our technology, they commissioned a study to better understand the technology, they gathered feedback from their athletes and teams upon using WHOOP, they examined the findings of the study carefully, and they followed a thorough review process for approving WHOOP in games which included safety testing. I think there’s a lot to learn from this process in general.
It has been an exciting 12 months for WHOOP. We started working with 30 Olympians leading up to Rio in Q1 of 2016. We kicked off the largest performance study ever conducted by a pro sports league with MLB in Q2 of 2016. We continued working with a number of NBA teams and top collegiate programs in Q3 of 2016. We launched our first consumer product to the public and announced the findings from the WHOOP-MLB Performance Study in Q4 2016.
Our mission as a company is stronger than ever: Unlock human performance. We believe that athletes and competitors alike deserve data to help them better understand their bodies and ultimately perform at a higher level. This data–particularly Recovery data–will make for healthier athletes, longer careers. I know teams, athletes, and fans alike can benefit from that.