4 ways motion capture software is changing the world of sport

Written by

22 September 2021

When you think of motion capture, you might think about memorable movie performances of Ray Winstone as Beowulf in Beowulf, Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or Andy Serkis as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. 

But despite the fascinating history behind motion capture in the film and animation industry, it’s use also extends into the world of biomechanics, where it can be used in a variety of fields, including sports performance, coaching, and rehabilitation. 

From tracking players’ locations, movements, equipment and more, let’s look at four ways motion capture technology can be used to positively impact the increasingly data-driven industry of sports:

1. Improving an athlete’s performance

Motion capture software for sport allows a coach to identify any issues that may be preventing a player from giving their best performance, by either analyzing them in real-time or using a playback feature. By analyzing the performance in 3D, as opposed to 2D (with the naked eye), the tech is able to pick up on all angles of motion from the player, and then collate that data into highly accurate and easy-to-understand reports. 

In the game of golf, for example – which was an early adopter of mocap – having the correct form is vital to get the best swing and successful results. Motion capture software is able to capture and feedback information relating to the stance, angle, rotation, and positioning that goes into a swing – giving the player important and specific data to learn from.

2. Preventing injuries

Any rehabilitation professional will tell you that range of motions (ROM) is an important indicator of the strength, elasticity, and function of an athlete’s movement. Motion capture software for sport enables physiotherapists to analyze the kinematics of a particular movement, such as the rotation of a hip or the inversion/eversion of an ankle, and identify if any of the ROM limitations are linked to pain or injury in the athlete. Using the data generated, physiotherapists can then identify any areas where re-injury could be possible, determine how long recovery time would be, and give evidence-based recommendations for rehabilitation.

Franky Mulloy, from the University of Lincoln, completed a 7-month longitudinal study focusing on core ballet skills with dancers. He used biofeedback from his mocap software to reduce injury risk in leap landing and enhance skill development in jumps and single leg balances. Similarly, physicians from the Rush University Medical Centre used infrared cameras and wearable sensors to measure, in detail, the movement of ballet dancers. The data they uncovered can be used to inform the dancers’ doctors in an attempt to help and prevent future injuries.  

3. Creating better team strategies

3D motion capture software for sport is not only able to track a single athlete, but can track the movements of an entire team. The data from this tracking can be used by coaches to strategize the best possible plays for the team. 

How is this accomplished? Positional data, through the use of GPS, enables coaches to track a range of factors in a players performance – from jumps and direction changes, to accelerations and decelerations. For example, a coach can track the running intensities of various players in different intervals to identify when a player is tiring. This enables them to make strategic real-time decisions during a game. 

4. Altering the way we interact with sports

Imagine sports presenters being able to analyze holographic replicas of world-famous soccer stars in 360 degree angles instead of just relying on a 2D video – that’s what motion capture technology can do. By using optical tracking, mocap footage that has tracked player’s movements is able to then recreate those players into holographs that can be used by presenters in a broadcast setting, to fully immerse the viewer into the analysis. 

Collect precise movement analysis data faster with Cortex

Cortex motion capture software is trusted by leading researchers, educators, coaches, and physical therapists around the world. It enables users to capture and track the subtle movements of sports equipment, individuals, and entire teams, improving and extending the limits of athletic performance.

Book a demo of our Cortex motion capture software today.