Some people lament the progress that technology brings, fearing the complexity and change that comes with it. Others embrace it with open arms.
One area of our lives that has welcomed the benefits that technological advances can bring is the sports industry. In fact, many major sports around the world have turned to tech to help improve the experience of viewers, the quality of the game and the health of athletes.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the latest methods that sports such as baseball and soccer have adopted with the help of technology.
Leading sports clubs around the globe are always trying to take the fan experience to a whole new level. One way they’re currently exploring to do this is virtual reality (VR).
The San Francisco Giants, for example, recently trialed virtual reality goggles at AT&T Park. The VR experience immerses fans into the match, allowing them to explore the dugout and field — mimicking the experience of being a member of the team as closely as possible.
In England, soccer teams are using VR in different and exciting ways. It was reported recently that half of the teams in the English Premier League, including Everton and Liverpool, are now using VR for rehabilitation and training.
Players can carry out virtual training drills designed by top coaches, so if they’re injured and unable to take part in full-contact training, they can do drills via VR headsets instead.
It’s also been used to help players prepare psychologically for big matches by recreating the tense, big-game atmosphere.
While it’s not virtual reality as such, there has also been a rise in virtual versions of sports such as baseball and soccer, particularly in the betting industry. Sportsbook sites like Golden Nugget offer these types of games, as well as regular bonuses, deals and offers.
Many sports, such as tennis, adopt technological tools like Hawk Eye that allow referees to make more accurate and therefore better calls.
These technological advances have found their way into other sports through the introduction of video assistant referees, particularly in soccer.
The English Premier League, as well as a host of top leagues around the world, has recently introduced video assistant referees (VAR). Although controversial, VAR has armed referees with a wealth of technology, allowing them to view incidents in slow-motion and check for anything that they may have missed in real time.
While many soccer fans have spoken about their dislike of VAR, the Premier League revealed that before it was introduced, the average percentage of correct key decisions per match was around 82%. In the 12 months following the introduction of VAR, that figure rose to an impressive 94%.
This can only be a positive move for the sport, though it does take something away from the unpredictability of the game, which is a big draw for a lot of people.
It’s clear that sports fans love statistics. Commentators are forever reeling them off, even the most obscure ones that you may only have a fleeting interest in.
Gone are the days when some poor fool had to manually count things. Now, with the help of technology, sports teams can gather a wide set of data on each individual player and the team as a whole.
That data can then be analyzed to identify weaknesses and address them, and strengths to be developed and capitalized on.
In baseball, the SwingTracker is a useful piece of technology that allows coaches and players to assess and improve their batting. The device simply attaches to the bat and tracks data from swinging motions.
The technology is similar in the world of soccer. Video processing software is used to track players’ movement in a match, which is particularly useful when tracking the distance they cover and the positions they take up.
Soccer players also wear GPS trackers and monitors to help assess and optimize physical performance. These devices can sometimes be seen around a player’s chest when they remove their jerseys.
As well as statistics, technology is allowing teams to track the condition and health of their players. In Major League Baseball (MLB), for instance, players wear wristbands that track their vital signs. This data can then be used to introduce specific training regimes to help players reach their peak performance levels.