A touch of technology in… sports!
Talking about KPIs in football is not as unusual today as it used to be years ago. Now, sports clubs focus on all sorts of strategies for measuring and improving performance. Players are monitored at all time and results are given according to the measurements, thus enabling the team managers to adopt one strategy or another. It is highly advisable to monitor the activity of players in order to keep track of the evolution of the team. KPIs are fundamental in a sports team in many respects and this is to be understood in the following lines.
One sports team that uses technology to track the performance of their players is the Lions (The British and Irish Lions, formerly known as the British Isles or the British Lions). The system they use for measuring every player’s performance consists of a GPS tracking software which helps the team’s management record every movement of every player. The device is placed on the back of the player, between the shoulder blades. The Lions have used the device for about two years now and the system seems to be working, according to the team’s management.
The information is provided in real time, being displayed on laptop screens and later analyzed. Probably the most important advantage of the GPS tracking software relies on health. By monitoring every single move of the player, the muscles and bones activity and the heartbeat, managers are able to replace players in due time during a game, thus avoiding all sorts of injuries. It is important for the team’s managers to keep track of the players’ activity on the field as they get a chance to see the level of performance of every single player, to analyze their moves, speed and response time to field interaction.
However, football does not approve of this practice, even though it is placed among the most dangerous sports and the use of this GPS tracking device could spare a lot of players from being injured on the field, thus heading towards better results in games.
Roy Headey, the RFU’s head of sports science in 2011 says that “a critical piece of information relates to the external loads – visible but virtually impossible to estimate – that players experience during games. These include distances run at various speeds, muscular effort in accelerating, decelerating, changing direction and G-forces in collisions, and GPS is currently the best available vehicle for capturing such data.”
The use of such devices is highly regarded in sports, as it gives accurate data on players’ performance. Tests have also been carried out to see if the device could be placed inside the ball as well, with an additional package of information for the team’s management. In addition to this, it is argued whether to make the information available to the spectators as well. The problem is the feedback may be in some cases too much to handle and sometimes over the top for the coaches and managers of the teams.
To put it in a nutshell, this kind of practice allows sports teams to improve performance as they play and team managers to adopt strategies that best fit the need of the team. This way, great results are guaranteed to appear. It is all in measuring steps.
- Eurosport (2013), What is that bump at the back of Lions jerseys?
- The Economist (2011), GPS and sport: Location, location, location