Computers in Sports

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Computers in Games and Sports

Practically everybody has played sports video games on a computer. It’s fun to pick a team and see how well you can play against a “virtual” rival. However, the uses for computers in various games and sports go far beyond video games.

If you ask a cricket bowler how he throws a ball, he may not be able to tell you. He may say it’s just “instinct.” It’s something that comes naturally to him. The fact is that there are ways to help bowlers become better bowlers and batsmen become better hitters. And computers are important in making this happen. Cricket players from the major leagues down to city and school teams can now have their batting and pitching analyzed.

First, the player’s movements are videotaped. Then, these videotaped images are transferred into a computer. Special application software analyzes the images. It measures the exact angle at which the player is holding his arms and legs. The speed and efficiency of each body movement is measured. This process is called motion analysis. One pitch can be compared with another. This can be useful because the bowler can see how changes in movement affect the result (such as how fast a ball travels). Some systems can even measure pitching and hitting motions during an actual game. This allows coaches to give immediate feedback to players.

These computer applications also can be used to compare the movements of two different players. These comparisons, for example, can help explain why different players tend to hit the ball in different directions. There are also computer applications that help coaches keep track of exactly where each ball crosses the pitch. A radar gun can be attached to the computer to measure a pitch’s speed. This information is stored in the computer so that the bowler and coach can study it later. While motion analysis applications are important tools, it still takes a good coach to know how to interpret the results. The coach must look at the...
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