On a day when Novak Djokovic was supposed to be celebrating his ‘career grand-slam’, a feat achieved when a player wins all four of the season’s major championships over the course of their career, he left Paris with his ‘Rolland Garros’ duck still firmly around his neck.
The Serbian had won his last 28 matches, including the Australian Open at the start of the year, and had lost to his opponent only three times in their last 20 matches. The data pointed to Wawrinka’s poor first serve return as one of the most significant reasons why he had failed to overcome Djokovic in the past, and was earmarked by analysts as a likely contributor when the Swiss ultimately lost the match.
At this level of elite sport, data analysts are part and parcel of successful support teams. Current data extraction methods in sport are already sophisticated, but the introduction of wearable technology, such as accelerometers, has been touted as a way of making the process even preciser and quicker than it already it is.
Tennis has dabbled in this type of technology, with Rafael Nadal’s racquet at last year’s French Open having built-in sensors which gives players feedback on shot-variation over the course of a match a good example. Neither Djokovic or Wawrinka were using wearable tech however, pointing to the need for tennis to accept wearables more readily.
This year’s rugby ‘Six Nations’ was a hotbed for data collection. Each game produced two-million rows of data, all of which was fed to coaches, fans and players both during and after the game. Whilst much of this data is collected by cameras and video screens, clubs are starting to incorporate GPS (global positioning system) and wearable technology worn by individual players.
Mark Skilton from PA Consulting states;
‘You can wear a sensor in your shirt, on your wrist, shoe or racquet; we’re even seeing sensors in golf clubs to monitor players’ swings using kinetic real-time feedback.’
This all ties into the Internet of Things, a concept we’ve discussed on a number occasions on the Channels before.
Companies such as Cisco, whose project ‘Connected World’ is concerned with smart buildings, is considered the future of data collection in sports. Sensors, which could be attached to a player’s boot or jersey, create and then relay information to the stadium’s WiFi where it becomes available for fans and coaches.
The introduction of digital sensors has also been useful for tournament organisers who are now able to use sensors to map the busiest areas of their site. With this information at their disposal, they are able to redirect people away from crowded areas - important for both safety and crowd enjoyment.
The ‘Internet of Things’ will not just have an impact on the development of players, but the experience fans have when they come to a sporting event. This space is predicted to advance quickly too, with some of the world’s top sporting events, including the Australian Open, using the Internet of Things to improve user experience.
There’s never been a better time to be a sports coach, with the extra information that’s available now even more accessible with the Internet of Things.
Will it revolutionise the sports industry? Some would argue it already has.