Sports scientists have been using motion-capture systems for quite some time in their efforts to analyze and optimize athletic performance, as well as to reduce injuries and improve injury rehabilitation programs. But legacy systems came with certain limitations – related to accuracy, cost, mobility and more – that made them unreliable. Worse yet, they were conflicting incompatible with one another, making a combination of systems an insufficient workaround for those shortcomings.
This is why LiDAR has the potential to be a revelation in the field of sports science. Modern LiDAR-based motion-capture technology, such as Sportlight’s athlete tracking and management system, records high-resolution 3D data of athlete movements, enabling detailed analysis of technique, posture and biomechanics. Lots of performance tracking systems can provide sports clubs with certain contextual information about their players, but LiDAR (light detection and ranging) elevates motion capture to a new level. Here are just a few ways LiDAR-equipped tech can aid sports scientists:
Performance analysis and scouting: For decades, coaches and talent evaluators relied on observation, conventional wisdom and intuition when analyzing athlete performance and making judgments about player abilities and potential. As technology such as LiDAR has been developed for sports purposes and proven accurate and accessible over time, team and league gatekeepers have gradually warmed up to its benefits – to the point that motion-capture tech is now nearly ubiquitous around high-level athletics.
With the precise biomechanical data captured by LiDAR, teams can identify areas for improvement and performance optimization among their players. They can also use these systems to make decisions about future acquisitions, scouting prospects based on objective and measurable abilities rather than broad characteristics. The technology gives sports scientists the power to assess athletes’ physical attributes, movement efficiency and potential for specific roles, responsibilities and skills within the context of competition.
Injury prevention and rehabilitation: With the ability to track an athlete’s movement patterns, joint angles, efficiencies and output, LiDAR can help teams identify potential injury risks. Sports scientists can use this information to develop targeted injury prevention programs and suggest corrective measures to minimize the risk of injuries. Additionally, LiDAR can assist in monitoring a player’s progress during rehabilitation, allowing trainers to compare pre- and post-injury movement patterns, assess recovery, identify any lingering movement deficiencies and adjust rehab programs accordingly.
Training load monitoring: Load management isn’t a new concept. Pitch counts, minutes and total touches are among the rudimentary measures teams have been using to gauge athletic workload for years. But modern movement-tracking systems measure parameters such as acceleration, change of direction and speed profiles distance covered, speed and acceleration, providing precise, detailed data on training load – and giving teams the power to aggregate and analyze that data, across both games and training sessions, in an instant. That information helps sports scientists monitor and manage training programs to prevent overtraining and ensure optimized performance.
Player tracking and positioning: Coaches can’t keep tabs on every player at once, nor identify their positions relative to one another in the moment – let alone process all that information to make informed decisions on the fly. But LiDAR-based tracking systems can provide real-time position data of athletes during games or training sessions to take a big weight off the shoulders of coaches. Empowered with accurate data, they can be freed up to focus on how to best use that information to formulate tactics and optimize team strategies.
Virtual reality training: LiDAR technology could potentially be integrated with virtual reality (VR) systems to create immersive training environments. By combining high-precision 3D scanning and VR simulations, sports scientists could replicate authentic game scenarios, allowing athletes to practice and make decisions in a controlled virtual setting.