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Applying 3D Modeling to Player Performance

By: Andy Cooper

STATS, the world leader in sports intelligence, has created a new tracking and analysis method that has powerful applications in terms of determining the future success of sports teams. Using 3D mapping to plot players’ every movement, each shot, step, dunk, or pass can be captured in detail not seen before. This data tells the full story of the game – which position had the highest likelihood of scoring points, why a certain style was successful or how a blocked pass could be avoided in the future.

The current STATS SportVU Basketball Data system reveals data on the types of plays teams run, and estimates on their future success. Six cameras are installed throughout an arena, capturing the position of players and the ball a remarkable 25 times per second. However, the new 3D model can provide an even deeper look. It can provide key insights into each player’s signature movements across a variety of plays by accounting for differing physical attributes as well as tracking what moves are unique to each player.

This 3D modeling approach can also equip STATS to flag potential athlete injuries. By using models created specifically from previous player behavior, researchers can identify when a player’s technique falls outside of the expected model and could possibly lead to harm. After an injury has occurred, the same method can be used by tracking if a recovering player is mimicking his previous actions.

The data that can be gathered using this method compared to earlier methods could be thought of as the difference between a standard pedometer and a Fitbit. Our previous ability to track and analyze information provided a solid, streamlined picture on what mattered. Now, we can expand into an entire new level of understanding and assessment on the performance of players and what this means for their teams’ success.