Adoption Was Slow, But Transformation is Rapid. Hockey was slower to embrace analytics and Big Data than other major sports. Indeed, bringing Big Data to the NHL has been a 24-year process, and developing a trackable puck technology required six years. However, the sport is rapidly changing now that hockey has adopted the technology. Richard M. Coleman founded Coleman Analytics and pioneered analytics in the NHL.
Seeing change occurring in four major areas.
Richard M. Coleman notes hockey is fast-paced, and seeing everything with just the eyes is difficult. The data provides an accurate and real-time assessment of the athlete’s and team’s performance. It can alert a coach to an athlete whose performance may be flagging because of overwork so that the coach can send in a substitute before the athlete injures himself. It can also tell coaches where a play has gone wrong so that coaches can correct the problem quickly.
Sensors within shoulder pads can provide vital information on players’ fitness to play. It can tell coaches when a player is nearing fatigue so that they can substitute for him to avoid injury. It can also provide information to help the coach develop a specific training plan for each player.
Hockey team owners hope that providing advanced statistics on players and teams will help engage fans and drive them to the rink. It can also help owners develop a profile of who attends hockey games to target the market better.
Big data can take much of the subjectiveness out of scouting. Instead of being able to judge a player’s capability through eyesight alone, scouts and coaches will have access to objective data. The data will make predicting the stars of the future much more straightforward. According to Richard M. Coleman, “Hockey predictions will become even easier as the use of big data spreads to the minor leagues in the future. As the technology behind big data becomes more commonplace, its use also may spread to smaller hockey leagues, providing scouts and coaches with information on the potential of these players as well.