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Archive for January 2, 2021

Jan. 2, 2021 — Data, field hockey, and a date with Athletes Unlimited?

Data analysis has infiltrated many sports in different ways. There are transponders in the shoulder pads and helmets of NFL players, radars and tracking cameras at baseball and tennis venues, and sensors taped to the torsos of basketball and soccer players worldwide.

The data gleaned from these sports is used for player and team development, and for a generation of statistically-aware people who run sports teams, are often used to assemble rosters, make trades, and sign players.

It’s been well-known that Americans are very much hooked on sports statistics, which is why the enterprise called Athletes Unlimited could very well become an important developmental apparatus in all sports, not just in softball and the new women’s volleyball and women’s lacrosse leagues coming later this year.

But I think AU should also take a flyer in the game of field hockey, given the rich amount of available statistics in every game.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. International field hockey is a sport which is extremely conservative in terms of its recordkeeping. The official FIH match sheet doesn’t record assists, shots taken, or goalkeeper saves.

I have observed, however, televised field hockey competitions which show copious amounts of data on the level of an Australian Rules football match. I think it was a Champions Challenge tournament which showed everything from disposals (i.e., the result of each possession) to distance covered during the match.

In truth, I think Athletes Unlimited could use data like this in order to determine, over the course of an AU field hockey season, which players are the best from each matchday, and therefore become the captains for the next week’s games.

Now, if AU would only have a field hockey league.