Collecting and managing player performance data across sports has never been easier than it is today. With advantages like modern processing speeds and dynamic tracking technology, performance managers now sit atop mountains of valuable and easily accessible movement-based data.
Only one problem: Where to start? For decades, talent evaluators had little more than a pencil, notepad, stopwatch and their own two eyes to measure and assess athlete performance. Tracking times in the 40-yard dash or a cone drill would give some indication of a player’s speed and quickness. Throw a ball and some dribbling into the mix, and you had more than a hint at their agility. But until recently, hard data was scarce and subjectivity ruled the day.
The situation has since been flipped on performance managers. Now equipped with exceptionally accurate and endlessly flexible tracking tech such as Sportlight, organizations have the capability to collect almost infinite streams of player and team movement data that can be subjected to layers of analysis. Such a wealth of data can amount to information overload, though, if you don’t have a solid idea what you’re looking for. As more organizations across a wider spectrum of sports are introduced to this issue, here is a crib sheet of general data points to help performance managers keep their eye on the ball:
Admittedly, this is a too-generic term that could be applied to who-knows-how-many actions on a pitch, field or court. But when focused, it may be the most important measurable for athletes everywhere. Coaches are constantly pleading for their players to deliver on some version of superior quickness: “Be first,” “Beat him to the spot.” Whether it’s a striker’s first stride, a nickelback turning over his hips or a point guard sliding over the top of a screen, the ability to measure the practical quickness of athletes within a game’s component parts is invaluable.
From a performance outcome perspective, an organization should want an athlete to be as quick, strong and dexterous on any one side as they are on the other. But a demonstrated imbalance or asymmetry in an athlete could also be a red flag – a precursor to an injury. Teams that establish performance baselines for individual players and monitor them over time are more likely to identify when an athlete’s body is out of whack, before it becomes a larger problem.
Forms of usage tracking have been a part of sports for some time now, ranging from running back carries in football to pitch counts in baseball. But with the latest technology, organizations can collect and analyze far more granular data – including, for example, a player’s total distance run on a Premier League pitch or NBA court. And with Sportlight’s portable solutions, pro hoops teams – which often practice in health clubs or temporary settings on the road – can now get more comprehensive reads on player movement, including the speed at which they are cutting to the basket, coming off of a screen or accelerating in transition from the defensive end of the floor.