Whether you are in the stadium or watching the World Cup at home on the sofa, the HockeyTracker app for mobile phones allows you to check how fast the ball has been travelling during shots at goal. This is the first major hockey tournament where the speed of penalty corners and hits within the circle has been registered digitally. The innovative step forward has been made by HockeyTracker, an alliance between the KNHB, research institute TNO Delft, IT company SAP, The Hague’s hbo college and various other partners.
The system is simple. It uses radar technology behind the goals to measure movement within a radius of 27 metres. This information is then converted into speeds – producing interesting and useful facts which are transmitted to television commentators so they can use them as well. SAP has developed an app for general use so that supporters can follow exactly how hard the ball has been hit or pushed. The app also maintains a ranking of the fastest speeds throughout the tournament. On Saturday, Germany’s Christopher Wesley topped the listing with a hit measuring a punishing 140 km/h. The device also shows that Dutch player Eva de Goede manages to drag flick the ball harder than Maartje Paumen. She can reach 95 km/h compared with Paumen’s 79 km/h.
“This information also allows you to analyse penalty corners really well,” says developer Cor Krüter, who used to play at Dutch club Oranje Zwart. “We can measure everything. The speed the ball is delivered at, the speed of the runner and the speed the ball needs to reach so the keeper’s reflex is useless. A properly placed corner of 110 km/h is pretty impossible to stop. You saw it with Van der Weerden’s drag flick against Germany. The only reason it was not a goal was that it was saved by the post man.”
Krüter says even more information can be gleaned from the tracker. “If a corner is run out, then the ball was not delivered quickly enough. If you know what the ideal speed is, you can train for it. You can also determine the best position for the corner specialist. Using the tracker is a really interesting way to look at hockey. We’re even happy if Oranje’s opponents get a corner.”
You can download the app free of charge via www.hockeytracker.nl.