Sports are like so many advanced human endeavors – they can be described, understood and improved by numbers. That was the point of the 2003 book Moneyball, and the trend continues: There is a huge difference between today and 20 years ago in how numbers are used to improve both individual and team-based athletic performance.
Where it starts is technology. The increasingly sophisticated and nuanced nature of the tools we use to measure performance are opening new doors to insights that empower coaches, trainers and associated staff to help athletes reach new heights, speeds and levels of achievement. That includes the technology that powers Sportlight – LiDAR – which has the potential to play a big role in the quest for sports optimization.
First and foremost, LiDAR’s granularity is unmatched. The tech is superior at generating usable data about the most minute features of athletic movement. Why does a “faster” defender seem to get beat on cuts when a slower one marks the ball handler more effectively? LiDAR can show you without ambiguity that the “slower” defender reacts more quickly in the moment of the cut and doesn’t need to depend on his raw speed to make up that split-second gap. This is crucial for performance evaluation.
But it can also be a valuable training tool. LiDAR, by generating more detailed information about player performance outputs, can help give talent evaluators a better sense of why the slower defender reacts better. Rather than its usefulness being limited only to evaluation, Sportlight’s system can be employed as a teaching tool that – when interpreted appropriately – helps improve player performance.
Similar analyses can be made within other contexts, like the complex dance that is the pick-and-roll in basketball, in which two offensive players must execute individual and collaborative movements precisely while processing and reacting to the movements of one or two defenders in the midst of their own processes and reactions. LiDAR’s precise measurements can help analysts and evaluators break down those interactions, and learn where success and failure happen in order to advise or coach up players – either immediately or later in training.
This brings up another strength of Sportlight: It can be deployed consistently everywhere – at games, at practices, home and away, in any venue. So long as there is access to power and a means for docking the data being tracked, the system is highly portable and relatively simple to set up and operate.
Data, analysis and results evolve together. Some analysis can’t be done without certain data. The availability of this new data allows certain kinds of analysis – and even brings forth new types. Results increase through this symbiotic evolution. Imagine what you can analyze with Sportlight and the results that can follow.