Modern materials for peak athletic performance

Well-equipped from head to toe

The runners shoot around the last turn with their eyes fixed on the finish line. Shortly before the home stretch, they tap into their last reserves of energy and give everything they’ve got while the spectators cheer them on with frenzied applause. In their never-ending pursuit of new bests and a spot on the winner’s podium, athletes dedicate themselves to systematic training. But modern materials can also help to shave off those last few critical milliseconds. Raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience are top scorers in this discipline: They improve the properties of an athlete’s equipment – from head to toe.

Whether for winter sports, like here, or for wind surfing, ice hockey or soccer, modern materials are safe, lightweight and strong.

Highly elastic bands briefly store energy when stretched in competition, which they subsequently can return to an athlete. Used in athletic jerseys, they enhance performance and prevent fatigue. They also prevent undesirable muscle vibration, which can have a negative impact on an athlete’s performance. Articles of this kind are made possible by screen-printed coatings made from raw materials manufactured by Bayer MaterialScience.

But modern materials, or more specifically textile coatings based on polyurethane, can do a lot more. Particularly when it comes to outdoor clothing, athletes depend on waterproof gear that can wick away moisture. Even the appearance of the clothing is an important factor. The coatings keep T-shirts, pants, etc. looking new even after frequent washing.

Shoes likewise must withstand a lot of wear and tear. Soles containing polyurethane systems offer high wear resistance and numerous design possibilities. Coatings on athletic footwear promote natural motion and a comfortable fit. Most importantly, the coating is applied to precisely that part of the shoe where the foot needs support.

Better equipment

However, even the best clothing won’t help if the equipment can’t keep up. Raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience get high scores in this area as well. Lightweight, flexible, durable: Athletes achieve peak performance with equipment displaying these properties. From winter sports with skis and snowboards, to inline skating, cycling and fitness machines: The right equipment makes a critical contribution to success.

One prominent example is soccer. Bayer MaterialScience and adidas have been working together for over 25 years to develop soccer balls for championship tournaments. The balls have not been made of leather for some time; it is plastics that make them durable and accurate today, adding to the excitement of watching competitions at stadiums and homes all over the world. One example is the Tango12 ball used in the 2012 European Championship.

Getting down the home stretch safely

Despite all the fun, excitement and new records, the greatest priority is the athletes’ safety. When skiing, playing ice hockey or cycling, they must be able to rely on their equipment. Helmets, eyewear, etc. must be lightweight, durable and comfortable. Materials from Bayer MaterialScience are tailor-made for such applications. What is more, they offer break resistance, great design freedom and even 100 percent UV protection, if necessary. In other words, nothing stands in the way of sports being fun, be they professional or amateur.