The Technology That Has Helped Improve NBA
Basketball, like many sports around the world, has changed immeasurably over the last 30 years. As the world’s leading basketball organization, the NBA has seen and felt these changes most profoundly.
These differences include amended rules, new tactical preferences, and an astonishing rise in money flowing into and around the game. The fastest driver of change in the NBA for the last three decades has been, as in all life, technology.
Whether it’s player health, game analysis, fan experience, refereeing, or marketing, technology is affecting and improving it every day. Even the ability to get real-time, in-depth, NBA odds online through trusted companies.
But what is the technology that is improving the NBA, and how is it changing the sport?
Companies such as SportVU and KINEXON have changed the playing field in-camera tracking over and again in recent years. Even a casual viewer can see from the increase in the availability of detailed statistics what impact this is having.
Previously, game analysis was done with the naked eye or video playback and restricted to a few key elements. Today, it’s done in real-time with 14 cameras tracking 17 data points on every player, plus the ball.
This is useful for training, tactical insight, analysis of technique, faults, injuries, statistics, and dozens of other elements. Used in combination with wearable tech, we are learning more about the game than has ever been possible before.
This falls into two main categories, one distinctly more controversial than the other: biometrics and motion sensors. Biometrics are things like heart rate, blood, and oxygen monitors, while motion sensors literally track athletes’ movements, like super-advanced Fitbits.
The first can be incredibly useful in terms of player health and fitness, preventing injuries or illnesses, and aiding rehabilitation. It does, however, raise difficult questions about personal privacy and data ownership which have so far restricted its use.
Motion sensors, on the other hand, are another incredible tool for analyzing the game and its individual athletes. When used in conjunction with camera tracking, this can generate more than 50 million data points from each game.
Almost every sport in the world is now using technology to help make their officiating more accurate and error-free. Some use simple video playback with human officials, while others use computer-aided tracking systems, such as Hawkeye in tennis.
The NBA has used video-assisted refereeing for several types of decisions for many years, as have many sports. Experiments are now taking place to see if camera tracking and motion sensors can be used to fully automate calls.
Some will always argue that the controversy caused by human officiating is an important part of the game’s entertainment value. However, speeding up the game by losing replays and discussions is also desirable to many, as are 100% correct calls.
Not all technological advances have been about what happens on the court, some have changed how many people can watch. Before on-demand viewing services, the only way to watch NBA was in person or on a selected broadcast.
Today, international streaming services are available for almost every game to be watched on-demand or pay-per-view. This means potential audiences now registered in the millions, or even billions, rather than hundreds or thousands.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now TikTok have changed how people and organizations interact with each other. The NBA, and other sports, have revolutionized the connection between fans, clubs, and players.
Fans and players are now able to directly interact, which can have pitfalls but brings huge benefits when managed correctly. Similarly, players and clubs have powerful new tools with which to share information, gain feedback, and build their brand.
Creating powerful new technologies and communication platforms was one thing, making them completely portable has been another. Mobile devices mean fans can get information, buy tickets, make bets, or interact in any way, all on the go.
On the court, tablets and laptops mean instant video playback and analysis are available to coaches, officials, and players. After many years, hastily scribbled plays on whiteboards have finally upgraded with a more flexible, detailed, and interactive tool.
VR and AR
Virtual and augmented reality are at the cutting edge of digital technology and are already creating benefits for the NBA. Individual VR and AR training programs have shown to hugely benefit players working on specific issues in their game.
The potential benefits for fans are huge too, with VR offering possibilities of new and exciting close-up access. With AR apps on mobile devices, the possibilities for real-time information and other interactions are endless.
These are just a few of the technologies which have helped to improve NBA basketball over the last thirty years. With the rate of advancement only increasing, who knows how the sport will look in another 30 years.
One thing is for sure, it will be exciting to find out.