A review of vision-based motion analysis in sport

Sian Barris, Chris Button
Sports Medicine 2008, 38 (12): 1025-43
Efforts at player motion tracking have traditionally involved a range of data collection techniques from live observation to post-event video analysis where player movement patterns are manually recorded and categorized to determine performance effectiveness. Due to the considerable time required to manually collect and analyse such data, research has tended to focus only on small numbers of players within predefined playing areas. Whilst notational analysis is a convenient, practical and typically inexpensive technique, the validity and reliability of the process can vary depending on a number of factors, including how many observers are used, their experience, and the quality of their viewing perspective. Undoubtedly the application of automated tracking technology to team sports has been hampered because of inadequate video and computational facilities available at sports venues. However, the complex nature of movement inherent to many physical activities also represents a significant hurdle to overcome. Athletes tend to exhibit quick and agile movements, with many unpredictable changes in direction and also frequent collisions with other players. Each of these characteristics of player behaviour violate the assumptions of smooth movement on which computer tracking algorithms are typically based. Systems such as TRAKUS, SoccerMan, TRAKPERFORMANCE, Pfinder and Prozone all provide extrinsic feedback information to coaches and athletes. However, commercial tracking systems still require a fair amount of operator intervention to process the data after capture and are often limited by the restricted capture environments that can be used and the necessity for individuals to wear tracking devices. Whilst some online tracking systems alleviate the requirements of manual tracking, to our knowledge a completely automated system suitable for sports performance is not yet commercially available. Automatic motion tracking has been used successfully in other domains outside of elite sport performance, notably for surveillance in the military and security industry where automatic recognition of moving objects is achievable because identification of the objects is not necessary. The current challenge is to obtain appropriate video sequences that can robustly identify and label people over time, in a cluttered environment containing multiple interacting people. This problem is often compounded by the quality of video capture, the relative size and occlusion frequency of people, and also changes in illumination. Potential applications of an automated motion detection system are offered, such as: planning tactics and strategies; measuring team organisation; providing meaningful kinematic feedback; and objective measures of intervention effectiveness in team sports, which could benefit coaches, players, and sports scientists.

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