It’s a numbers game

Statistics used to motivate students

Sport analytics and statistics entails more than an athlete’s performance. It includes player motivation, team development, game tactics and injury prevention.

Here at SAIT, Trojans men’s volleyball head coach Dan Gilbert uses advanced technology, such as sensors and apps, to help bring the team together for each season.

Individually, statistics depend on the athlete and how receptive they are to those numbers.

“Some athletes need to know their numbers, while others won’t care. Like [the saying], ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’” said Gilbert.

Even though each year the statistics of each player is scrapped, some are kept for ongoing players like Brett Bolin.

Bolin, a fourth-year SAIT student in the bachelor of science construction project management program, has played for the Trojans men’s volleyball team for three seasons.

Last season, Bolin broke the single season block record for the Trojans, and this year, he broke the Trojans all time block record.

Reserved statistics allow players, like Bolin, to break Trojans records.

“Stats are looked at each individual year to help motivate the team and give athletes feedback,” said Gilbert.

“It doesn’t depend on how long the athlete stays at SAIT.”

In team development, analytical and statistical numbers give players an outlook on what they need to achieve strategically to win their games.

“The stats are more for [the team] to ask, ‘how can we play the game better?’”

For example, when the Trojans men’s volleyball team only average 1.8 passes and beat their opponent, the Trojans would need to run the middle more.

“We need to get twice as many attempts in the middle and that requires better passing average than 1.8,” said Gilbert.

“So you kind of use the stats to encourage the team a little more to get above that average.”

In addition, another method that Gilbert uses is the vert sensor, which incorporates injury prevention.

This technology measures an athlete’s jump, such as how high and how many jumps are performed in practices.

“Because jumping in volleyball is directly proportional to knee tendonitis, we have a certain number of jumps for our athletes to obtain,” said Gilbert.

Every practice, each player wears a belt around their torso with a vert sensor in the belt.

“I can look at how many times the athletes have jumped and decide whether or not I need to modify practice,” said Gilbert.

Many of the athletes from the men’s volleyball team felt the “jump numbers” were used appropriately to keep them in good condition.

When an athlete goes past a given number of jumps, they are more prone to knee injuries.

“[Trojans] were actually part of a PhD study at the University of Calgary by using our data,” said Gilbert.

He also uses other technologies, such as a pocket radar, GoPro, Coach’s Eye app and iStat to track his players skills and improvements.

Off-season analytics are also taken into account in order to guide returning athletes for proper exercises and athletic therapy.

Trojans men’s volleyball athletes are expected to maintain their three to four workouts per week and focus on rehabilitation in order to better their performance for next season.

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