WNBA legend and Seattle Storm veteran Sue Bird is still going strong 14 years into her pro career, and a big reason for that is the revolution in technology that lets athletes track activity and use it to better train and recover.
Interviewed by Q13’s Aaron Levine at the 2017 GeekWire Sports Tech Summit, the nine-time all-star and two-time WNBA champion said she was resistant to technology when she first came into the league in 2002, but as her career progressed, she embraced the trend. Specifically, Bird said she is a big fan of the Whoop, a wearable band that tracks everything from stress to her workout to sleep.
Bird, who is coming off knee surgery this offseason and has logged close to 500 WNBA regular season and playoff games, as well as overseas competition and four Olympics, said the technology helped her achieve longevity in her career.
“If it’s going to help you, if it’s going to elongate your career, you are an idiot if you don’t use it, why wouldn’t you use it?” Bird said of sports technology.
But apparently, many of her teammates don’t take advantage of the technology as heavily as she does. Bird could only name one other teammate who uses a wearable device like she does.
But many technical innovations are happening at the team level. Sleep is a big emphasis for the Storm, and Bird gives credit on that front to Susan King Borchadt, the team’s sports performance consultant. For example, the team axed morning shoot-arounds on game days in favor of letting the players get extra rest.
Little things like that can make a difference in an era where most elite athletes have access to top notch training and facilities from early ages, all the way up to the pros.
“Nowadays, the difference between athletes is really small, and if you can get an edge, why not take it,” Bird said.