Performance Enhancers

The equipment that will optimize your temperature, stop a nosebleed, and help you hit the perfect 300-yard drive

This is not a story about steroids. But it is about improving your abilities on the playing field. Using technology as sophisticated as any developed in traditional fields of science, athletics companies have designed this equipment to make you better, stronger, faster and healthier. It’s funded by absurd amounts of money and validated by the best athletes in the world. And if you’re lucky, it will be sitting in your gym bag soon.

Heal Thyself

These bandages, made with chitosan, a substance found in shrimp shells, are up to 30 times more effective in stopping bleeding than other hemostatic bandages. An earlier version was first introduced for military use, and NBA teams soon followed. Now available over the counter, it’s overkill for a shaving nick, but a quick fix for nasty on-field cuts. Up next: an implantable version for surgical applications, and a spray or gel that could help bleeding boxers avert an early disqualification.
KytoStat $6 each;

Game Theory

Football coaches can now trade their playbooks and dry-erase boards for a virtual-reality headset. Technology from 3DMVP converts football-game footage into a three-dimensional videogame-like interface. Coaches and players can then watch plays at any speed, from any angle, with a mouse click. A 3-D computerized playbook is just as easy: Pick a formation, drag the mouse to where each player should end up, and press “Play.” Systems for baseball and soccer are also in the works.
3DMVP $100,000;

Face Value

Don’t let winter confine you to the gym. The ColdAvenger mask leaves you as comfortable as if you were working out in warm air, and it can reduce cold-exercise-induced asthma and other respiratory problems. The mask uses a medical-grade plastic chamber to mix cold air drawn from the outside with the hot air you breathe out, to deliver it into your lungs 40° to 60°F warmer than the ambient temperature. The simple design lets users breathe naturally but ensures that no CO2 accumulates.
ColdAvenger $50;

Club Med

This training club uses a gyroscope spinning at 20,000 rpm embedded inside its head. The Gyro Swing, from SKLZ, uses the huge angular momentum from the flywheel to keep the club face properly open on the backswing, square on contact and closed on the follow-through. A putter is in development, and look for a training baseball bat with similar tech soon.
Gyro Swing $220;

Swing Shift

Tennis players and pitchers will soon be able to strap on a vest equipped with motion-tracking technology to monitor the breakdowns in their mechanics that can accompany fatigue. It’s already available for golfers, who, with a laptop in their golf cart and the vest on, can analyze their motion in real time on the course to determine how their stance and swing differs from their previous best. A medical version used to quantify pre- and post-operative range of motion is coming to market as well.
K-Vest Price not set;

Chill Out

By wearing Nike’s PreCool vest for an hour before competition, it takes 21 percent longer for an athlete’s core body temperature to reach the critical level where fatigue sets in. The latest prototype, featuring a body-conforming design inspired by ’60s minidresses, is slated to roll out during the Beijing Games. The vest is filled with cold water (it weighs eight pounds when full, 14 percent less than earlier versions) and drained through two valves. A fabric that protects skin from contact with a freezing surface is laminated to thermoplastic polyurethane cells that hold the water. A six-millimeter air gap provides insulation, and a thin layer of aluminum reflects radiant heat.
Nike PreCool Price not set;