Lakers’ Trainer Gary Vitti on Injury Prevention


Fans have already seen a lot more of Lakers’ trainer, Gary Vitti, this season than they would have liked, but Los Angeles would like it to be known that it is not due to lack of effort.

Today, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes put out an insightful piece about Gary Vitti and his quest to best prevent players from getting injured.

Earlier this week, the Lakers’ Data Analytics efforts were addressed, so it’s only fitting that their behind the scenes training staff be brought to the forefront as well.

Broken down to it’s simplest form, the Lakers training staff 3D scan players, use devices to check their levels during workouts — inflammation levels, hydration levels, oxygen levels, etc. — then use SportsVU cameras to track player speed and distance traveled.

The Lakers then use this information to set up a system which helps them test their players’ performance.

"The Lakers combine all the information they’re being fed from various tools into a formula that helps charts players’ health and performance in green, yellow and red zones, a format that they began testing last season. (Green is good, yellow is caution, red is bad.)"

Vitti went on to discuss how their research is based heavily on two things which they call “load,” a player’s average speed times distance times body weight, and “intensity,” load divided by minutes played.

"So theoretically, you want a direct linear relationship between load and intensity. As the load is going up, you want intensity to go up with it. And as long as that’s happening, we put that player in the green zone, meaning we can keep pushing him. If load is going up, and intensity is starting to flatten, then he’s going into the yellow zone and now he has our attention. What do we need to do? He’s starting to flatten, his performance is going down, he’s not moving as efficiently. If load is going up and intensity is starting to tank, now you’re in the red zone and we’ve got to do something."

Despite being the ultimate goal, Vitti said that even though he “wouldn’t go out publicly and say, ‘We’re preventing injuries,'” that they are “doing pretty well.”

In defense of the Lakers organization, Vitti also told Holmes:

"What I would say is, the Lakers are doing everything they can that they know of. We’re using all the technology that we’re aware of that exists that we know is valid, reliable and useful to try to reduce the susceptibility of injury — not even reduce injury, but reduce the susceptibility of injury because they still may get injured, as well as increase performance"

According to the Holmes, “The Lakers have led the league in games missed because of injury in each of the past two seasons (319 in 2013-14 and 339 in 2014-15), in which the team lost a combined 116 games.”

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That said, the Lakers having been doing everything in their power to prevent these before they happen, despite obviously struggling to do so.

For an organization so heavily rooted in the past, it is refreshing to see the Los Angeles Lakers finally beginning to embrace the future.

What did you think of Holmes’ article? Can this research be trusted considering the Lakers’ recent injury struggles? Is there something the in LA water?

Let us know in the comments below.

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