The NFL is one of the biggest sporting organizations on the planet. The combination of strength, skill, speed, agility and strategical mastery has enthralled American and international sports fans for decades. Star quarterbacks of the past and present, such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino, have all caught the attention of the public because of their dazzling performances on the grid. The NFL also works hard to promote itself by forming partnerships with TV stations, maintaining a heavy presence on social media and elsewhere on the web, and engaging with communities through its philanthropical work. All of this has led to an organization and sporting league that fans can’t get enough of.
Of course, the NFL and its teams, just like many other organizations and in other walks of life, make use of technology to perform their best. Below is a discussion of the technology used in sports betting on the NFL props markets and of the technology teams use to deliver their best on the grid.
Betting on the NFL
Sports betting is now legal in the USA, and one sport punters like to wager on is the NFL. The industry offers all kinds of markets, including NFL player props markets, which makes sports betting highly engaging.
Sports bettors can access a variety of odds, depending on their choice of sportsbook. Thanks to advances in technology, sportsbooks can set odds using sports betting software or by working with companies that employ special algorithms to help them to compile reliable odds for punters. Long gone are the days of analyzing lots of different data and compiling odds manually.
Enhancing performance with tech
Not only sportsbooks are capitalizing on tech to perform their duties better. The NFL and its teams are also harnessing the benefits of tech. Here are some of the ways they’re making it happen.
Video to analyze (and predict) player movements on plays
Today, teams aren’t just watching footage of games to see where they went wrong. Some are analyzing player movements in detail to anticipate play calls and train their players to react to certain formations. Players may display telltale signs of an impending running or passing play, vital information that defenses, if they spot the signs, can use to defend against the opposing team.
Computer vision to study player movements for improvement
Visual study isn’t just about predicting what a player’s next move might be in a play. Some teams are employing computer vision to study players’ movements so they can improve their speed, reduce unnecessary steps and, generally, improve their performance.
Machine learning to make training and playing safer
The grueling nature of the sport means that players can suffer an injury quite easily, but the NFL is working hard to reduce the risk of injury. By working with tech companies to build “digital athletes,” the organization creates virtual representations of players and, using NFL data, the digital athletes run simulations that assess the impact of equipment choices, weather, fatigue, field strategies, game rules and lots of other factors that affect players’ safety. These digital athletes can help to prevent injury and predict potential injuries.
Some teams are not just using machine learning to protect against injury, but also so they can provide players with the right coaching. They’re using it to detect patterns and understand performance issues. They can then apply this insight to develop specific, targeted advice without increasing the risk of injury to the player in question.
Mobile virtual players to practice tackling safely
American football is a tough sport, and the tackling aspect of the game can induce real wear and tear on players. Some teams are now using mobile virtual players (MVPs). These remote-controlled pieces of equipment act as moving, robotic dummies so that players can work on their tackling skills without getting hurt (and also on their movement around opposition players). As soon as a player tackles them, the dummies bring themselves back upright. This removes the need for live players for tackling practice and reduces the risk of injury.
Footballs with sensors to reduce fumbles
Under pressure, players can fumble the ball easily, so some NFL teams are working on this by using an Internet of Things-related football that encourages players to hold the ball tightly. If the player doesn’t hold the ball properly and tightly to the body, the ball releases a sound. This trains players to fumble less.
Tech is playing an important role in helping teams raise their game so they can perform their very best. Other uses of tech for this purpose in the NFL include the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags placed in players’ shoulder pads to record data that will help teams devise strategy and analyze players’ health; and tablets so that coaches can share updates, strategy and other important team information with the players during the week. Tablets aren’t allowed on the sidelines before or during the game.