But, Miller said, small differences in technique make a big difference, because the magnets don't cover the entire foot. This comes into consideration with a kick that's the equivalent of a boxer's jab. It used to be used defensively, but with electronic scoring, it is now more of an offensive weapon. It's called a cut kick, in which a fighter pushes the opponent with the bottom of the foot.
The research showed that executing a cut kick by leading with the ball of the foot was not very successful, but using the heel scored points 90 percent of the time.
Later this summer, Miller hopes the U.S. team will start using a nearly finished training tool based on the findings.
At the highest levels of competition, even the smallest edge can reap rewards. The potential edge from improved statistical analysis or a better understanding of the scoring system may not be large, but could be significant.
Miller is one of three nominees for the U.S. Olympic Committee's Doc Counsilman science award, which recognizes U.S. sports officials who use sports science in an innovative way. The winner will be announced June 21, at a dinner in Colorado Springs, Colo.