Digitalisation and technology tend to find their way into every area of life where they can offer some added value. Sport is no exception. The latest innovation conquering the sports world is athlete tracking through real-time locating systems (RTLS). The efficient use of data collected by wearable tags is proving to be a real game changer for the industry.
This is because data can enhance both the performance of athletes and the enjoyment of spectators. Location and biometric tracking offer huge possibilities for coaches and their athletes, but tracking is not only for professionals. Tracking applications can make sports more interesting and fun at all skill levels. Furthermore, the generated data can make sports more entertaining for those who sit in front of a TV or at a venue cheering for their favourite teams.
The sports industry has always valued data. The best coaches are usually those with the most information and the most successful athletes are those who use data to improve their performance. Back in the 1970s, access to high-quality slow-motion video was a huge leap forward as it enabled coaches and athletes to make tweaks based on data rather than feeling. Today, RTLS is expanding the scope of data and analysis even further. New solutions can provide useful data on everything that happens on the field, with tailored accuracy from simple presence monitoring to centimeter-level precision.
Team sports are a great example of where RTLS can really offer added value through new data. In football for example, small and unobtrusive tags can be integrated into players’ uniforms, providing data about their every move: speed, distance, jumps, tackles, spurts etc. If we then also add a tag into the ball, the amount of available data expands even further as it becomes possible to track ball speed, passing percentage, ball possession, time travelled in the air and many other metrics. With data analysis it’s now possible to learn which moments have the biggest effect on the game result and which players are most valuable to the team.
The amount of data that can be collected with RTLS is simply massive. With advanced algorithms, the only limit is imagination.
Judging and evaluating an athlete’s movement is an essential factor in all sports. Despite the wide market potential this offers, most existing applications have been developed specifically for one type of sport. RTLS, on the other hand, offers a solution that can be used across the sports industry from swimming to high jump, from ski jumping to Australian football. Just think of your favourite sport and you can quickly imagine a dozen possible uses for RTLS.
The ways in which real-time data can be used vary across different sports and RTLS solutions can easily be tailored to these needs. The system can be set up to only show the data that is important to the user, be that a coach or an individual athlete. It can also be set up to provide the level of accuracy needed for analysing a specific sport.
RTLS is a versatile solution that can bring value to a range of sports with different data needs. The collected data can be used to provide better statistics and to optimise training for athletes at all skill levels.
RTLS solutions naturally provide many results for the athletes and their coaches, but they can also provide benefits across the value chain. The same data that is used to improve performance, can also be used to increase fan engagement and to provide new content for TV broadcasters.
With more value seen across the value chain, the stakeholders are more willing to invest, creating a positive chain reaction. The more the solution is developed, the better the value for all parties involved. From the example of ice hockey, it is easy to see how such solutions could be used to engage the whole value chain in other sports too.
RTLS and sports digitalisation can also create new business opportunities for various sports venues by enabling them to offer more enjoyment for recreational athletes.
Innovative sports venue owners can offer even more value to hobby league teams all over the world. Instead of just paying the rent for the field, teams can rent RTLS as a service. By paying a bit extra, teams receive access to tags and the service, as well as analysed and visualised data on all players – even if they are a hobby league.
Wisehockey is a leading Finnish ice hockey analytics platform developed by Finnish software company Bitwise. The platform provides accurate and real-time data analysis with minimum effort in a visualised format that makes it easy to use for coaches, players and fans.