Welsh Scientists Set to Create Revolution in Sports Coaching; 3-D COMPUTER ANIMATION FIGHTS 'ANALYSIS PARALYSIS'

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBIN TURNER

WELSH scientists have teamed up with former world snooker champion Terry Griffiths to help create the computerised coaching systems of the future, the Western Mail can reveal today.

Experts from Swansea University's computer science and sports science departments have been putting in the hours at Griffiths' Matchroom snooker hall in Llanelli.

They have been using highspeed 3D cameras to capture players in action as they try to pot balls in various pockets.

The video visualisation technology being used by the Swansea team then converts the hours of snooker action into an easy-to-understand 3D computer animation.

Dr Iwan W Griffiths, who is leading the project, said the data-visualisation is expected to deliver a quantum leap in sports analysis and coaching across a wide variety of sports including rugby and football.

He said today's professional sports matches were becoming so heavily examined by scientists, coaches were faced with "analysis paralysis".

"In sports like soccer and rugby we now have teams of specialists inputting relevant data into analysis software," he said. "All events, such as line outs, scrums, turnovers, tries, penalties, etc are coded so particular events can be called up and scrutinised in detail.

"But assimilating the copious amounts of data produced in bar or pie charts can be a very daunting task and sometimes difficult to understand.

"However, the work we are undertaking will help the analysis team to display their data in easy-to-comprehend visual displays of what the players have been doing."

He added: "The work on snooker is being undertaken first as the game is played in a relatively controlled environment.

"What we do for instance is to distil hours of video of a player trying to pot a ball into a particular pocket into one 3D visualisation which shows the variance to left or right the ball takes when the player misses. Coaches like Terry Griffiths can look at this visualisation and tell straight away where the player is going wrong.

"The idea is that using this software, someone like Terry could coach a player in say, Hong Kong or Malaysia, from his base in Llanelli.

"As the technology improves we hope to transfer the visualisation techniques to things like penalty taking in football or rugby. Eventually we hope it will transfer to open play in rugby and soccer but the rough and tumble on the pitch means the software will have to become particularly sophisticated."

The video visualisation technology developed at the university is being shown off today in a seminar entitled A Revolution in Video: Advances in Analysis in Sports Science and Coaching. …