The notion of sports as the great meritocracy is a fine one in theory. But whoever conceived the idea never heard of Manchester United or the New York Yankees. Whether it’s prestige, location, coaching or – often – finances, some organizations have a leg up over others that can’t be denied.
But as it has time and again, technology is gradually helping to level the playing field. Just as franchises with fewer resources have taken advantage of new tech on the margins, in areas such as nutrition, training and team-building, many will find an opportunity in another sports breakthrough: LiDAR.
Light detection and ranging (LiDAR), or laser scanning, uses pulsed light waves to detect movement in a surrounding environment. In the athletic world, it has been employed for years in its early forms to determine, with unmatched accuracy, measurements such as height, distance and elapsed time (high jump, 40-yard dash times, etc.).
The development of LiDAR technology in sports has created a portable, dynamic and reasonably affordable asset that can be a game-changer for clubs that are willing to invest – not just monetarily, but from a cultural perspective. Equipment provided by a supplier such as Sportlight doesn’t have to break an organization’s budget or require a team of experts to operate. But the data it provides has the potential to bring new insights to coaches, talent evaluators, training staff and the players themselves.
Resources often create a schism between sports’ haves and have-nots. But because LiDAR remains a relatively underexplored technology in sports, smaller organizations have a chance at this moment to capitalize on tech that can not only close the gap, but potentially reverse the effect. LiDAR has the power to detect tiny physical inconsistencies, kinetic inefficiencies, secret strengths and areas for potential growth for those willing to delve into and interpret the data. You can imagine how learning more about that physical data – subtle individual movement patterns, as well as team trends – can pay off big dividends on game day.
Because portable LiDAR solutions exist, even academy clubs, minor-league teams and developmental squads can benefit. And for growing leagues in niche sports, LiDAR may be an excellent investment to help maintain the health of players, improve the overall level of play and possibly showcase the sport across multiple organizations.
Clubs get relegated. Small-market teams work on shoestring budgets. Organizations sometimes struggle to climb out of ruts created by past management. By taking advantage of a technology that some larger, better-funded clubs have yet to embrace, these franchises can capture insights, conceptualize the data and develop well-informed action plans to compete at levels over any expectations – perhaps even their own.