Sports franchises and programs have been relying on the experience and expertise of performance evaluators for as long as competitive athletics have existed – whether those evaluators come in the form of a coach, scout, trainer or other specialist. Identifying talent, developing prospects and optimizing the performance and health of players have become skills of their own, gradually improved upon over time.
Yet those processes have often been subjective and difficult to repeat. Having been slowly sharpened by careful observation, trial and error, and the incorporation of anecdotal findings, they remained fundamentally flawed. Why? Blame the lack of reliable, empirical data that would allow evaluators surrounding the athletes to draw trustworthy and actionable conclusions. That, however, is beginning to change.
The development of more accurate and dynamic movement-tracking technologies is empowering performance evaluators in new ways. The data collected by this tech is delivering more definitive results and deeper insights than tracking systems of the past, empowering organizations with information that have the potential to set them apart from their competitors.
The Importance of Accurate and Consistent Tracking
Many legacy tracking systems are able to deliver basic data readings, providing teams with player performance benchmarks that can aid in athletic development and injury rehabilitation. But because practitioners set out to measure minute movements that can occur over fractions of seconds, the relatively low accuracy of legacy tech offers only so much value.
Additionally, many organizations employ multiple tracking systems, based on certain capabilities or limitations among them. But varied and inconsistent readings across systems can lead to margins for error that render the commingled results virtually meaningless.
Sportlight Technology’s athlete tracking and management system, powered by LiDAR and artificial intelligence, offers hyper-accurate data collection – including advanced change-of-direction motion capture – in a package that requires no wearable devices and no supplemental systems or technology. It’s an all-in-one, end-to-end movement tracking solution that opens the door to a world of new insights for an organization’s evaluators to explore – and potentially gain an edge.
How Evaluators Can Leverage Player and Position Data
Any coach worth their salt has already spent countless hours considering their club’s roster, player strengths and weaknesses, and strategic approaches that may yield greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts results from the talent on hand. But an accurate, reliable athlete tracking system provides insights that can help a coach make better-informed decisions – ranging from player substitutions to formations.
While tracking systems have obvious value to team practitioners concerned with the day-to-day changes in athlete outputs (and their fatigue and injury implications), teams are only beginning to scratch the surface of their potential in scouting, game-planning and real-time decision making.
For instance, the brain trust of a football club may analyze the collective results of an athlete tracking system and determine that it reveals a weakness at center back, greater depth at midfielder and particular strengths at center forward. A creative manager may decide that the club’s standard 4-4-2 formation should be replaced, or at least complemented, with a more aggressive 3-5-2 or an attacking 3-4-3.
More robust data streams could also influence a manager’s decisions about which players to tap from match to match, based on fatigue levels, matchups and more. A club may discover that it can dig deeper into its roster, providing more development experience to younger athletes while preserving more senior players. Traditional load management tactics can help inform a coaching staff when and where to substitute, or whether to move a player to a less demanding position.
Modern athlete tracking systems aren’t intended to replace coaches. But because they are able to collect verifiable and comprehensive movement data across a pitch, field or court, they have the power to augment a coaching staff’s observations and either confirm or counter certain convictions or schools of thought that could benefit from interrogation. More data means more insight. Experience, intuition and gut instincts – the kind the best coaches are known for – are built on such insights.