TMCnet Feature
April 07, 2020

How Technology Is Impacting the Game on And Off the Ice According to Jesse Schwartz Hockey

Hockey is a fast sport – if you look away for a moment, you can miss a key play and even the game-winning goal. However, while your human eyes (and attention) may not be always be able to follow the action, there's now technology that will track the details for you.

How many details? Well, almost all of them, according to Jesse Schwartz, who has professional ice hockey experience and works as a development coach specifically  focusing on a player's skills and skating. Emerging technologies currently being rolled out may further change the way the game is seen by fans, analysts, and even coaches and players, he says.

While the technology will possibly change the way, the game is seen on-ice, there's other technology already being used that can impact the athletes off-ice, he adds.

Puck and Player Tracking

The NHL has already tested a tracking system that's designed to provide more minute details of every player's actions in the rink. Eyes in the sky (well, in the rafters) involve antennae communicating with sensors in the both a player's equipment and the puck, explains Jesse Schwartz.

This means fans (and commentators) will be able to get real-time information such as exactly how fast a shot is going, how fast a player is moving, and how long they spent on a shift.

But the technology is not brand new – it has been in development since 2013, he notes. The league partnered with Fraunhofer (News - Alert) Institute and Jogmo World Corp. at that time. One of the biggest challenges, according to Jesse Schwartz, was creating an accurate sensor inside of a puck that can move upwards of 100 miles per hour.

The NHL has recently changed its tech partner for this initiative, but league officials are confident it will continue to move ahead as planned. This new technology is currently in the final testing stages with the goal to be rolled out at the start of the 2020 postseason.

Video for Strategy Adjustments

Teams have historically reviewed game video to identify weaknesses and change strategies for the next game. Jesse Schwartz explains that this kind of video information is being used to pre-scout teams and players as well as a teaching tool that is used post game in order to help players improve on the finer points of the game. Having this technology available helps to establish another team or players tendencies or weaknesses and exploit those during the game when it matters most. 

Thanks to the fact that there's more recording devices and easier ways to access video nowadays, teams are now using game video during the game to adjust their approach, he adds. That means the team can use timeouts or a player’s rest time between shifts to review key moments and decide how to adjust for the next period or shift to increase their chances of winning.

But video can go even further than that now to helping a team secure a win, he adds. Some goalies are now watching iPad videos before a shoot-out to examine the shooting styles of each player they will face, giving them valuable insight on what to expect.

Making a Close Call

Video replay and multiple referees have been the norm for some time to decide the outcome when it's almost too close to call a play. But sensors could change that, as the NHL looks at putting them in goalposts to help officials make a decision when there's fractions of an inch involved.

It may even allow "eyes" on the puck when there's too much action around the net to track it with a traditional camera, explains Jesse Schwartz Hockey.

Training Tech

In order to perform at their best on the ice, players need to push themselves off the ice and get the right conditioning, says Jesse. But while coaches and trainers are traditionally in charge of ensuring a player is conditioned optimally, there's a wave of data available that could make the job easier, he explains.

Data analytics are currently making a big splash in the business world. However, Jesse Schwartz Hockey notes that hockey minds are now looking more closely at how data extraction can be used to help track a player's health and even eating and sleeping patterns. This kind of information can be used to better tailor a training program to match a player's strengths and weaknesses, he explains. Some of the technology is wearable, which will allow a player to access information and share it with team officials quickly. 

A lot of the data will be collected from the players themselves – such as what they ate, and how hydrated they were, he explains. This can also help teams better manage injuries and monitor recovery times. 

Jesse Schwartz Hockey keeps a close eye on developments in the game to better deliver training to a new generation of players, he explains.

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