Changing The Game: How Analytics Are Transforming The Way People Approach Sports
By guest contributer Lucy Lymes
Posted 12th December 2018
If robotics and artificial intelligence are the future of the world, will sports be equally transformed by their influence? The world is constantly changing with technology, and the field of sport is not being left behind. Sports analytics have become central to the way different games are approached and managed today. Coaches, broadcasters and team owners are among stakeholders who depend heavily on numbers and data in order to make critical decisions. Even fans have now become number-crunchers as they look to understand their favourite games better or even make a killing in the betting markets.
In the UK, this revolution arguably began with Arsene Wenger when he arrived to manage Arsenal in 1996, but has now taken root in sports across the country and the continent at large. But just what does the future hold for sports analytics?
Scouting and coaching
With competition constantly on the rise, sports teams are leaning more and more on analytics to help them keep in step with rivals. The dependence on numbers in the process of scouting and signing new players, for example, cannot be overstated. Sporting directors are now a fixture at a majority of clubs, where they work with video analysts and scouts to determine which players to target.
Video analysis has in itself become a core element of coaching sessions for teams. Player and team performances are always being captured in matches and training. These are used to glean data which the coaches leverage to try and improve weaknesses and enhance performance.
So, could forensic analysis of numbers and data actually replace the human touch of coaching and training? It is impossible to put a ceiling on exactly how far technology can go, and how much that would change the world we live in. In the immediate future however, the involvement of data analytics in sports appears to be mostly positive.
One element already being used, but that we are likely to see even more with time is wearable tracking technology. In sports, this will be useful to collect real-time data on heart-rate, muscle performance, hydration etc. This information will then be used to offer insight on how these specific aspects can be targeted and optimised for better team and individual performances.
Another area that is likely to be heavily influenced by the advance of sports analytics technology is TV and digital broadcasts. Pre-match, live and post-match analysis have become an integral part of sports broadcasting in the world today. The incorporation of smart technology into such broadcasts improves the information and entertainment value that they offer.
The pertinent question right now would be whether sports analytics will eventually become somehow seamlessly embedded, in the same way as goal line technology or Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) in football. Either way, there is no doubt that it is here to stay, and it will continue to influence change in sports all around the world.