The unsung hero in the evolution of sports, data management plays an equally integral role in the analysis of player performance data, writes Morne Bekker, country mananger at NetApp South Africa.

Professional sport has evolved drastically over the past two decades, with teams, coaches, and athletes alike making use of data management technologies to ensure they produce the best performance possible, both as a team and as individuals.

In all reality, winning in team sports has forever relayed a sense of superiority, and with large sums of money on the line, staff continuously employ data analysis to ensure they correctly decide which players to draft, trade, and develop.

In order to further develop a team and player skills, coaches once used the trusted, but outdated method of a stopwatch and a pad of paper, jotting down the meters run in and tackles made.

This may seem like a fool-proof method as its been done for decades, but if team and athletes really want to unleash their true potential, data analytics and the accompanying management is vital.

When data gives the game a run for its money

From a time when coaching staff used employed traditional methods of jotting down performance figures with pen on paper, this now lies with the sports performance analysts, who needs to monitor and capture data in addition to tracking devices, enabling team to produce an entirely new breed of player.

The sports performance analyst is an integral part of any team, and not making use of the capabilities around the management of the data collected, places a team at a serious disadvantage against its competitors.

These analysts make use of a number of technologies to acquire the optimal performance data figures possible, ranging from tracking technologies or GPS-enabled chips to monitor the performance of a player.

Many application platforms assert that their tags and wearable technology attached to the players clothing blinks some 25 times per second, and deliver data in a mere 120 milliseconds; and also provides real time stats on each player such as peed, heart rate, and acceleration.

NetApp’s latest AFF A800, the first available end-to-end NVMe enterprise platform, achieves consistent sub-200 microsecond latency from application host through to data storage while offering industry leading enterprise-grade efficiency, security, and flexibility powered by NetApp ONTAP 9.4 software.

And it’s not only a sports that involved balls and contact that are reaping the benefits of this data mining and management. Motorsport in particular is reaping the various rewards associated to the correct management of the data received by the various sensors added to the vehicles.

In a league of their own

MotoGP is one such prime example that has adopted these technologies to allow teams the ability to shape the bike around the rider while managing all the electronic parameters related to the mapping of the engine to enable riding through wire, controlling traction, and engaging the engine brake, to name but a few.

While some riders find this interference unnerving at times, the results speak for themselves, with riders achieving faster track times.

The modern MotoGP bikes – such as Ducati – make use of more than 60 sensors which constantly log a variety of parameters. For example, every free practice each of the 4 bikes available at the Ducati Team box on average collects more than 8Gb of data which is downloaded at every garage stop through a cable connected to the ECUs setup software.

At Ducati Team, over 20 people relentlessly test the best compromise to perform in circuit and rely on data to provide the best setup. Secure Data Archive and fast access for analysis is fundamental because it is important to access historical data quickly from latest year’s races in order to run tests to take better decisions.

Presently, NetApp is assisting the Ducati MotoGP team to improve performance and security though modernised data management solutions powered by Flash technology on and off the track. This is enabled with the use of power artificial intelligence and compute-intensive applications with an enterprise all flash array designed for high performance and cloud.