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Why LiDAR Technology Is the Future of Player Development

Next to talent evaluation, the most important organizational competency for any sports franchise is likely player development. Shrewd player development – the cultivation of depth and the groomingconditioning of overlooked or undervalued talent – makes up the backbone of most clubs that achieve long-term success. We were reminded of this, yet again, just months ago when former undrafted free agents Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent each played a key role in leading the Miami Heat to the 2023 NBA Finals.

What, then, is the secret sauce of player development? If we knew, we’d be running our own franchise. But what we can confirm is that all quality player development begins with trustworthy data insights. And the only way to achieve those insights is through the collection of player-performance data – the more accurate, dynamic and comprehensive, the better. That begins with the right technology: LiDAR, or light detection and ranging.

What makes LiDAR performance-tracking systems the best choice for player development departments across sports? Here are a few characteristics of the technology that explain why:

Precise data capture. LiDAR technology allows for highly accurate and detailed data capture of athletes’ movements, posture and body mechanics. More so than any legacy player-tracking technology, it delivers pinpoint readings that can make all the difference when evaluating the minute performance discrepancies from one session to the next. That level of rigor can provide practitioners and coaches with objective measurements and insights into player performance, enabling more informed decisions during training and development.

Comprehensive evaluation. LiDAR player-tracking systems can capture a wide range of biomechanical data, including joint angles, body posture and movement patterns – not just positional information. This comprehensive evaluation helps identify potential injury risks and allows for targeted training programs to address weaknesses.

Real-time analysis. With advancements in processing power, LiDAR systems can could soon analyze data in real time, providing immediate feedback to athletes and coaches during training sessions. Instant feedback allows for timely corrections and adjustments that allow for performance optimization in the moment – an incredibly valuable tool within the player-development framework.

Non-invasive and safe. LiDAR uses laser pulses to create a three-dimensional map of the training or game environment, making it a non-invasive technology for player development. It doesn't require athletes to wear sensors or markers, minimizing injury risk and reducing potentially results-altering self-awareness during data collection.

Longitudinal monitoring. By integrating LiDAR data with other tracking systems, coaches and medical staff can monitor an athlete's progress over time – whether they are rehabilitating an injury or simply developing their skills over time. Longitudinal monitoring can help track improvements, assess the effectiveness of training strategies, prevent overuse injuries and track recovery regimens.

Personalized training programs. With the precise data captured by LiDAR, coaches can design personalized training programs tailored to each athlete's strengths and weaknesses. This individualized approach can enhance skill development and overall performance, while integrating training for general or specific team needs.

Integration with virtual reality. Combining LiDAR data with VR technology can create immersive and interactive training environments for athletes. VR simulations can replicate game scenarios, allowing athletes to practice decision-making and tactical skills in a controlled setting.

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