Keeping the Ball Rolling

Gautam Rege, Co-Founder and Director at Josh Software Pvt ltd.Driven by passion for programming, Gautam is an ardent promoter of Ruby on Rails and he leads many of the brand initiatives to propagate framework in India

How tech intervention and predictive analytics is transforming traditional sports to a science

Sports and competition have been synonymous for me, for as long as I can remember. There's nothing that can give you an adrenaline rush like a game that you love. And over the last couple of decades, the sporting landscape has been more or less completely transformed, both for the players, as well as people who enjoy watching the action. Technology has played a massive role in this shift, especially since the internet boom, which has enabled easy information accessibility, crowned data the monarch of all commodities and provided sports metrics a new dimension to explore. Sports is no longer just fun to watch, it's almost a science: one that is defined and steered by datadriven innovation.

Reinventing the Game: Different Metrics to Track
The last couple of decades have seen the success metrics of a sportsman gradually evolve. It's no longer the number of home runs you can hit, or how many goals you can score. It's a lot more. Baseball was one of the first sports to embrace the possibility of a datadriven team, backed by player statistics and customized coaching techniques. It gave the world a preview into what technology can offer. Predictive analytics, thus, is an important driver of these success metrics! Field positions via GPS devices, player heart rates, and biometric requirements are just the beginning. Athletes, especially, also track distance covered vs. energy intensity in high speed runs, and objective strengths vs. weaknesses to
determine best practice drills. Highspeed video and machine learning algorithms that model repetitive motions are what enable this, and it's no surprise that both of these are in use by almost all international sporting federations today.

Sports is no longer just fun to watch, it's almost a science: one that is defined and steered by data-driven innovation

Predicting Success, One Game at a Time
Just like teamwork makes the dream work, predictive analytics is beneficial for not just one member of the team, but everyone involved! Different sports will have distinct requirements, based on the size of the team and the way the sport is played. Realtime tracking gives coaches a heads up when a player gets fatigued, prevents crucial injuries and helps them keep track of the team's performance on the go. Imagine being able to send in a substitute at the correct moment, and finally scoring that slam dunk! Postgame analytics work a little differently. IoT controlled devices and wearable sensors can gather approximately 1.4 million data points in a single game. That's millions of improvement possibilities! These evaluations help coaches devise game optimisation strategies, enabling them to make better informed decisions. The more data available, the more sophisticated insights can be formulated. These insights also deepen the team's understanding and fan bases. A strong predictive analytics strategy is sure to provide managers and coaches with an indepth objective performance review, team alignment, and business understanding. What more could you ask for?

Striking the Goal: Tech Intervention in Hockey
While basketball and baseball have been the premiere sports to embrace modernized tech to level up the game, hockey is not too far behind. Data statistics and advanced analytics have made their way into the game, and are now an integral part of the strategy that coaches use to make teams better. Sabermetrics, initially used in baseball, backed by machine learning and computer algorithms have reinvented the traditional game, and sophisticated software with cloud based analytics maximizes the data gathered from each athlete. Many federations are already using predictive analytics to forecast the results of the upcoming hockey world cup, based on past team performances and resources available. USA and UK have championed the cause of integrating technology into hockey, and are successfully tracking players' field positions, acceleration etc. through sensors to calibrate their workouts and ensure more wins. The NHL is in the lead. With Hockey as our national sport, it's high time India took notice and gave our team the push they need. We have absolutely no shortage of talent in the sphere, but our inhibitions always get in the way. This is not a time to sit back and watch, it's time to bring Indian Hockey to the forefront again, and tech can be the key to the potential that remains locked within traditional boundaries!