Houston Rockets: Analytics Take A Huge Step with OptimEye


Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are no strangers to analytics, and are now going once step further with the help of OptimEye

The San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, plus four other teams that have chosen to keep their identities secret, have invested in these complex GPS tracking devices created by the Australian company Catapult Sports, the self-professed leader in “athlete analytics.”

The device is roughly the size of an oldfangled beeper and athletes wear it inside their jerseys on the upper back between the shoulder blades. The device records literally every movement the player makes, accurately measuring exertions such as distance, velocity, changes of direction, acceleration, deceleration, jumps, heart rate and more.

These physiological and physical performance parameters are then uploaded to a computer to be analyzed, allowing coaches, trainers and the players to understand their individual workload levels. These are conclusions that once could only be subjective, say, by reading a player’s body language, to now being totally objective. By wearing the devices during practices, teams can monitor their players’ physical output and closely watch their load levels to ensure each player is not being overworked and ensuring ultimate preparedness to play in each game when performance counts.

Worn during workouts, the device can provide real-time data alerting coaches and trainers if a player’s exertion rate is too high, the moment when a player is most vulnerable to injury, allowing coaches and trainers to pull back.

The NFL and NBA do not allow players to wear the device during regular-season games. The Spurs used the technology during the Las Vegas Summer League, becoming the first NBA to wear the technology during in an actual game environment.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he’s considering using it during the NBA’s preseason in October. He said he has not yet been advised against it by the league. A league spokesman did not respond to an email Friday inquiring if the NBA would allow the technology to be used during preseason games.

Allowing the technology to be used in regular-season games might require a green light from the players association. Such data can cause uncertainty among players associations, agents, front offices and others involved in contract negotiations.

Here are the specs for OptimEye:

The OptimEye S5 includes:

• Distinct streamlined design with refined cutting appearance & incredibly robust exterior
• Extremely precise 10Hz GPS engine with refined accuracy for positional, velocity
and acceleration data and with significant advancements for use in stadiums and
challenging environments
• 3 axis configurable100Hz 2-12g accelerometers to measure linear motion, impact
forces, acceleration, deceleration and more
• 3 axis configurable 200-2000 degrees per second gyroscopes to measure angular
motion and rotation allowing accurate classification of specific movement patterns.
• 3 axis 100Hz magnetometers to measure direction and orientation
• Heart rate logging from Polar heart rate belts plus optional ANT connectivity for
connection with peripheral devices. Heart rate data can be exported to FirstBeat
• Monolithic electronics for greatly improved durability in contact sports
• Smartball technology allows you to track the ball as well as players live in the 2D
animation page – this allows you to track possessions and work rate when your team
is in defence compared to attack etc.
• Powerful internal computer for sophisticated processing to allow all parameters
including sophisticated and validated variables such as RHIE, Tackles and IMA all
produced within live reporting
• Ultrafast wireless reporting with no downloading of units required

The Catapult Software allows detailed analysis including:

Biomechanical Analysis:
• Analyse impact forces, turn rates, orientation
• Analyse impact forces (take out turn rates, orientations) – tackle identification and
measurement for heavy impacts sports such as Rugby
• Orientation – break down movement into forward, backwards and sideways running
Tactical Analysis:
• Synchronise video footage with GPS based animation of the game
• Replay 2D animations of the play in real time or after the game to communicate
tactical strategies to players and coaches
• Export GPS animations of play to video files for use in 3rd party software analysis
tools such as Sportscode
Post game Analysis:
• Generate automatic reports breaking down performance into velocity, heart rate
& acceleration bands, recovery times, effort lengths & more
• Sophisticated graphing tools enabling up to 4 graphs with 4 variables per graph
• Contour plots mapping player position on the pitch and effort arrows to show
location of major sprints, accelerations etc.
Sophisticated Wireless Real Time Analysis:
• Count distance, sprint efforts, monitor HR and much more in real time
• Set individualised performance alarms for each player and be alerted in real time to
performance issues
• 200m wireless transmission range
• 5 hour battery