How analytics are used in the Athletic Department
The numbers are more important than ever before.
Jessica Allen | Assistant Sports Editor | @Jessdaleallen
Gabi Campbell | Photo editor | @gabicampbellphotos
With technology advancing, there are constant changes with how society is viewing, playing and experiencing sports. Numbers are becoming increasingly more important. Coaches and staff track every possession of the ball, every pitch, every score and anything else that could possibly be tracked during the game.
However, even though numbers are becoming more of the norm in how society immediately judges and ranks a player, it’s important to note that they aren’t everything. At UVU, the coaches understand the importance of the data but also know that there is more to the game than numbers, especially the coaches who have been doing this for a couple of decades.
“That stuff might get our interest early on, but we don’t recruit just on stats. It gets us interested then we let our eyes tell us what we need to see,” said Eric Madsen, UVU baseball coach. “We are always going to use that stuff but even at the bottom line, sometimes gut instincts override that. The toughness of a kid overrides numbers.”
The coaches, overall, are more interested in recruiting based on the skill they see and the players they meet. Most importantly, across the board they want to recruit players that are coachable, and that isn’t something the numbers will always show.
“We look at stats and use that to compare [the players] but there are other areas that are important besides what they do [on the court],” said Sam Atoa, UVU volleyball coach. “We evaluate being a team player, effectiveness on the court and how they work with each other. We evaluate not just how they are as an athlete but a person as well.”
New this year, in the Western Athletic Conference for men’s soccer, is video sharing. In all conference games, teams are required to upload their game tape for the rest of the conference to see and break down. Analytic breakdown of games that is readily available to each team, with little to no effort on their part, can be a very good or very bad thing. For the men’s team, they are able to prepare for the upcoming competition using stats from their competitor’s latest game. However, their competitors can do the same, which reduces the edge they would normally have in a game.
Teams at UVU are using analytics more in consideration of their fans and their opponents. Players are sizing up the competition by reviewing stats and percentages. Each coaching staff, for the most part, looks into the numbers and data to see whom the fans are likely to come watch and when they are likely to do it. Looking at these numbers is beneficial for both the team in having supporters and the fans in having a great match up to watch and cheer. They spend hours as a coaching staff and team going over the numbers and percentages of what their competitors are doing so that they can bring home a win.
Even with numbers being used, the UVU Athletics department realizes there is still a much higher potential to improve their recruiting process and fan base. The opportunity for future success is there as they continue to grow. While technology rapidly advances, this department uses more math than perhaps they ever thought they would when they chose to go into a sports-related career.