Over many years, technology has been advancing at a rapid pace. The world of sport is ever evolving, so it’s no surprise that technology has had an impact. The use of different technologies in sport has enabled coaches to better analyse their players and provide higher quality feedback. It can also provide fans of the game with a better viewing of sport performance, and can help umpires make fair and consistent calls. Australia is one of the leading countries in the development of sports science and technology. Let’s take a look at some of the technology used in three popular sports: AFL, Soccer and Cricket.
Since 2009, tracking technology has been fitted into AFL balls. This technology provides instant feedback on disposals, work rate and ball use. This technology is called SmartBall and assists in: HOW many leads it takes a forward to take a mark or gain possession. WHETHER possession is won in free or congested space. WHAT part of the field a team is using to attack. WHETHER the work rate of a team changes when it hasn’t got the ball.
SmartBall allows coaches to see clearly the effort and efficiency of their players. Over the last decade, the AFL have extensively used GPS technology. This technology provides feedback that allows coaches to compare individual players, determine exactly how much work a player has done in a session, maximise performance, and minimise injury. Even some local footy clubs may use a modest version of this technology during training and games. The AFL has been using goal line technology since 2012. Whether a ball has crossed over a goal line has a big impact on the outcome of the game, and dedicated fans understandably expect umpires to make the correct call. These days, goal umpire mistakes are usually very clear for spectators to see because there are so many cameras following the ball in AFL games. A video review system provides an extra set of eyes on a television screen to a score reviewer in the umpire’s box. If called into consultation, they may be able to adjudicate with the relevant goal, field or boundary umpire. Only an umpire may call a review. The umpire on the field will make the final decision when the vision is still inconclusive. One shortcoming however, is that a game of AFL can sometimes be slowed down by this technology. However, it only takes 49 seconds for a decision to be made, following a referral. In the grand scheme of the game, 49 seconds is a small period to wait to ensure fairness and consistency throughout the game, by making the right umpiring decisions throughout. Especially in high stakes games like finals, it is vital that umpires are making accurate calls.
The game of Soccer uses similar technology. In the 2014 World Cup, FIFA selected a goal-line technology called GoalControl. This technology uses 14 cameras, 7 of which are mounted on the stadium roof, and pointed at each goalmouth. This way, by using three-dimensional positioning, the ball captured. When a ball passes the goal line, a watch worn by a referee receives a signal and vibration in less than one second, meaning that the goal should be awarded. The use of this technology makes the game less ambiguous and reduces the discretion of the referee. This ensures fairness and consistency and can increase the enjoyability for spectators of the game. Footbonaut is an intense training technology used in some European countries. A player stands in the middle of a square with 64 different grids. Balls are shot out from the grids, which the player must control and pass on. A loud beep will sound, indicating to the player where to pass the ball, much like team mates calling out during a game. The balls also shoot out at different heights, making players utilise different body parts to control the ball. The technology is useful for players recovering from injuries and players wanting to improve their skills.
If you have ever watched a cricket match on TV, you are likely to be quite familiar with HawkEye. Since 2001, the path of the cricket ball has been tracked with HawkEye. This helps TV viewers and commentators track the cricket ball. It also helps adjudicate decisions. This is the most controversial of the cricket technologies, with incidents of players believing the technology has made an incorrect call. Tennis also uses HawkEye. You also may have heard a sound when the cricket ball nicks a bat. Snickometer is a technology that uses an extremely sensitive microphone in the bat, and a high-speed camera recording the movement of the ball. The snickometer gives more information about whether the ball actually did or did not nick the bat. The audience can see the snickometer in real time. Umpires do not get the benefit of seeing this, and must rely on their own sight, hearing and personal judgement. Sometimes however, the microphone can pick up other sounds, leading viewers to believe that the ball has nicked the bat when it has not. Despite this, Snickometer is considered the least controversial cricket technology. A similar technology is ‘Hot Spot’. Using infra-red imaging, the technology shows where the ball makes impact with the bat. The field has two infra-red cameras positioned at either end of the field. These cameras measure the heat created by the friction created after making contact. It’s considered more accurate, and in some cases, can be used to aid in off-field, third umpire decision making.
Because we know technology in sports is the way of the future, at ASC we use technology in our kids holiday sports camps. For example, iPad video capture with specially designed sporting apps. This allows participants to see and master key game skills and techniques. Also, this helps our coaches address your child athlete’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and develop a tailored plan to improve their skills. Each school holidays, we offer programs in 9 different sports for boys and girls aged 6 – 16 years. Our programs are suitable for beginners looking to try a new sport, through to accomplished players looking to refine their existing skills in the sport they love. For more information, view our camps here, or call us on 1300 914 368.