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Elevating Talent Development: The Impact of Harnessing Training Movement Data

For any sports organization seeking to better understand the capabilities and limitations of its athletes, consistent performance tracking and comprehensive data are required in order to derive functional insights. A sticking point for practitioners, however, has been the difficulty of recording all of their players’ athletic outputs – not just those from games, but also those in training sessions.

At issue has been the need for a technological solution that is up to the task of accurately and consistently tracking those outputs. In the past, clubs have employed a variety of optics-based legacy systems to help meet their data needs, but the unique challenges of tracking player performance across varied environments (even just one home stadium and a single training venue) require prohibitive levels of complexity and cost. Meanwhile, the results of mingling multiple optical solutions have proved wholly unreliable.

Yet a single system with both the necessary accuracy and versatility to be deployed across venues is within reach. LiDAR (light detection and ranging) has the potential to be the all-in-one, 360-degree technological solution that allows organizations to track the movements of its athletes at home and away games, within multiple training facilities and even in the gym and rehabilitation environments – the key to tapping into data insights that can take an organization’s talent development to new heights.

The Limitations of Legacy Systems

Understanding the benefits of LiDAR begins with identifying the shortcomings of other player-tracking systems. Camera-based models, until recently, have generally been accepted as the most advanced systems in the performance-tracking space. At their best, optical systems can provide sports organizations with reasonably accurate, basic data. But even those results are achievable only under ideal and quite specific conditions – and at great expense.

Any optical player-tracking system worth its salt requires a number of high-powered and pricey cameras, to be placed and calibrated for a particular environment (usually a home stadium). But because this technology is also unwieldy, an additional system is necessary for performance tracking outside the game venue – where most training occurs. Particularly for soccer clubs, which generate huge amounts of training repetitions, that secondary system is non-negotiable.

But due to budget constraints and the nature of most training environments, clubs typically must choose a different tracking technology for their practice and rehabilitation purposes than they use for games. Synching data across systems, however, adds another layer of complexity to the process while potentially compromising the accuracy of the data. As important as comprehensive data capture is in the arena of modern sports, even elite organizations have spending limitations and logistical challenges that can’t be fully overcome by legacy tracking systems.

How LiDAR Can Lead the Way in Talent Development

The promise of LiDAR is straightforward: unrivaled accuracy in a relatively affordable format. Developers have overseen recent leaps-and-bounds advances in the technology, to the point that we are on the verge of a performance-tracking revolution. Soon, sports organizations will be able to purchase inexpensive systems consisting of just a handful of sensors that can be duplicated in varied environments, delivering a rich trove of accurate data for tracking purposes.

The advantages extend beyond the trainer’s room or coach’s whiteboard. With dynamic insights derived from AI-driven analysis (such as that generated by Sportlight’s system), clubs are on the cusp of harnessing data that can not only help identify health risks and inform rehab programs but also optimize training sessions and individual talent development. There may even come a day soon when, say, an NBA player can leave his club for his offseason home and track his every movement in sessions with a private trainer using a portable, user-friendly LiDAR-based tracking system that is fully compatible and integrated with his team’s other tracking tech.

Teams can’t hope to monitor the health and development of their athletes without tracking them in both games and training sessions. The more data collected – and the more reliable that data is – the more likely that patterns emerge to help practitioners and other organizational staff build appropriate routines that maximize the potential of player personnel.

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