Jun 17, 2016

Hockey players on ice

I was watching Dragon’s Den the other night (keep in mind it was a very old episode that I hadn’t seen before) yet I was fascinated with a hockey helmet sensor. This little sensor has had such a positive impact in the hockey realm that it is now known as the technology for concussion management. 

Now I never played hockey, nor does anyone in my family (despite being Canadian), but I knew many people who did and it seemed someone always was getting a concussion. Often times I would witness a rough hit or fall, the person would say they were fine and get back on the ice because they wanted to continue to play the game. Later they would soon have symptoms of a concussion. Now there are many different impacts a concussion can have on a person but if a coach or parent can’t measure the player impact it’s quite difficult to know what to do and how to treat it.

This is where I truly believe that data analytics is evolving sports. This sensor connects to a helmet and assesses the direction and acceleration of a hit. This small sensor uses Bluetooth technology to collect and assess the data, then connect with a smartphone/tablet through an App to alert a coach or parents. The data collected is eliminating the guess work and gives sports teams the knowledge to make smart decisions to take care of the health and well-being of their players. 

Have you ever experienced a severe concussion from a sport? Imagine knowing at the time of impact that you needed to go to the Doctor immediately to prevent brain injury. That’s a pretty powerful tool to have your hands on. 

Not only is analytics making its way into equipment but it has been a part of sports in general for quite some time. NHL teams now analyze face-offs, hits, player performance, blocked shots, wins and losses, puck possession, penalties etc. Data has given teams an opportunity to perform better through understanding the whole story.

Coaches are now able to take these metrics and correlate it to winning. Without thinking analytically, teams are faced with so much noise and distractions. It becomes too difficult without the data to determine what is important and what has no impact on the bottom line of the team. 

Every facet of a game can be observed, analyzed, and drilled down further to have a positive effect on both the player and the team. 

There is definitely a place for data analytics in any sport.

What system are you using for crunching numbers?