Many equipment advances in sports have caused increases in sports performance that are not due to the athlete’s ability, but due to equipment advances. Equipment advances are specific to sports where the equipment is used. Equipment advances can be in clothing, protective equipment, general equipment, or technological equipment.
Clothing equipment advances
Clothing in sport has changed dramatically over time. Clothing is very light, and can be lose or skin tight, depending on the need for performance and safety. For example, swim suits worn have changed to become whole body suits, and even went too far and added structural support (these suits were since banned form competition). Clothing in many contact sports has also become tighter to make it harder for the opposition to grab hold of it when tackling (e.g. rugby codes).
Protective equipment advances
Protective equipment in sports has become much lighter. Cricket pads, helmets etc are now lighter allowing for faster and more free movements. Some sports have developed new protective equipment, such as the stem guard in cricket. Shin pad in football and shoulder pads in rugby are other types of protective equipment that have changed over the years to allow better movement in competition.
General equipment advances
This is where most advances have occurred in equipment. These types of advances include:
- graphite golf clubs
- tennis rackets are lighter, longer, have larger heads (stringed area), and nylon strings
- cricket bats are larger and lighter
- golf balls have specialised dimples and lighter
- many sports have converted to synthetic balls over leather (football, rugby codes, AFL, NFL etc)
- perspex backboards for basketball
- perspex masks for ice-hockey
there are many more and they all have lead to improved performances in their relative sports.
Technological equipment advances
Technology in sports competition has also changed with the other changes in equipment. The Grand Slam tennis and many international tennis competitions now use “Hawkeye” technology that tracks the ball and is used to determine if the ball is in or out. Ice-hockey use a light system over the goal to determine when the puck has crossed the line. Cricket use many technologies, from video replays for run outs, to “Hawkeye” to determine LBW decisions. Rugby league is no exception either, using video replays to determine if a try has been scored, though often to the disgust of the commentators.