At the intersection of sports science and technology today are some potentially game-changing developments in athlete tracking. No longer constrained by the limitations of GPS, cameras, wearables and other useful-but-flawed tech, performance evaluators are now empowered to dig deeper and think more critically about athlete movement.
Sportlight’s LiDAR-based system, for example, already has taken movement-tracking accuracy and dynamics to new levels. What we believe the system eventually will be capable of would set the pulses of performance evaluators racing, but even its current efficacy might surprise some in the field.
Consider the measurements the Sportlight system is already recording, providing professional sports organizations the data to more effectively and comprehensively evaluate athlete performance:
Curved sprinting. The speed at which an athlete can travel from one point to another, in some ways, defines performance in competitive sports. And yet, it hardly begins to tell the story of what’s required to excel in the vast majority of game situations across sports.
In football, for instance, the curvilinear run is part and parcel to individual and club success at every level. As Sportlight account director Dr. Paul Caldbeck shared with SimpliFaster, “Depending on the method of measurement used and how we define curved sprinting, the majority of sprint efforts in field-based team sports will involve some degree of curvature.” How much exactly? Caldbeck’s doctoral research observed 87 percent in soccer, across all positions.
Other systems can measure a player’s speed on a curved sprint, but Sportlight has the ability to measure every run by that player and aggregate them by the depth of curvature, the player’s relative fatigue, whether they faced an on-ball challenge on the run and any number of other contextual scenarios. Matches and games aren’t played in a vacuum. Performance evaluation shouldn’t occur in one either.
Closeouts. A key skill for most basketball players – and one that is increasingly important across all positions in today’s game – is the defensive closeout. In the same way football players make very few straight-line sprints from a dead stop in matches, basketball defenders rarely get a chance to run to a shooter from a static, squared-up position. The ability to turn quickly, create leg drive from an angle and reach a maximal speed while maintaining body control is a prized basketball commodity.
But the complexities of that dynamic motion aren’t easy to measure. Previously, a close-out defender’s success rate (and its repeatability) were judged mostly by the eye test. Sportlight, however, can not only measure the speed of a closeout, but also all facets of a player’s closeouts – and even track granular movements that can offer insights into why one closeout was more effective than another.
Transition runs. Athletes across many sports, including both football and basketball, are required to decelerate, change directions and accelerate in response to contextual game action. Of course it helps to know which athletes execute this dynamic stop-start run most efficiently.
In addition to that data, though, Sportlight can identify minute – but potentially critical – biomechanical information. With the advantage of technology that can pinpoint small discrepancies that suggest a weakness or injury risk, a club can help train a player to become more efficient or keep them out of the trainer’s room and on the field. Sportlight offers that accuracy and consistency of measurement.