How do I learn about sports analytics

Hop, hop: How to find the best sport for kids

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The squeaking of sneakers, laughter and music emanate from the large gymnasium of Wiener Schmelz. The song Teenage dirtbag puts 20 children and their parents in the mood for an afternoon with sports analysts who, at the end, are supposed to reveal the right sport for each child. Many of the assembled children have a great urge to move around and pass the time until it starts with catching games and getting to know each other: "Are you a tomato?" - everyone laughs and the ice is broken.

Meanwhile, the parents are talking about their offspring. Seven-year-old Moritz likes to go running with his parents voluntarily and plays tennis regularly. "Sure, he does what we set an example for him," say his parents, who want to find out whether he is also suitable for team sports. Six-year-old Anton likes to climb and loves football. His mother wants to know whether she will spend her weekends cheering on football pitches in the future. Secretly she hopes a little bit that it will be climbing after all. It would be a welcome opportunity to brush up on your own climbing skills.

At nine stations, the five- to eleven-year-olds try out what they are good at and what not. Unlike other programs such as Sports Monkeys, where a different sport is on the program every few weeks, sports analytics is about testing individual skills.

Discover talents

The most important physical abilities such as strength, endurance, speed, coordination and flexibility are analyzed. Objective data is collected at all stations and evaluated by computer. The throwing distance in basketball says something about the strength. The flag game is an exception: the trainers judge it subjectively because the children tactically take away colored flags.

Based on the results, the children will later receive a recommendation for five sports. In the end it will show whether Moritz is actually a runner and Anton a footballer. Right at the beginning of the 30-meter sprint, the motto is: "On your marks, get started!" Trainer Anna Steinbichler makes the test look like a race and runs alongside every child. Six-year-old Leni starts sprinting. "Hopp, hopp, hopp!", Her mother cheers her on and says with a smile: "Our daughter is very active. When she was three she asked why we weren't building a gym in the apartment." The stopwatch stops at 5.9 seconds. Leni knows that she was quick and she is smiling, the trainer gives her a high five.

Joy in movement

The other parents in the audience are also cheering. "I have to post right away that my son is in the lead," says one father. It is not meant seriously, but it is a bit. The organizers emphasize that sports analysis is not a search for top athletes. "Every child is good at a sport. Only sometimes it is one that you don't think of immediately, like floorball or fencing," explains Harald Steinbichler, one of the founders of sports analysis in Austria. He knows the problem of many parents who, looking for the right sport, buy a wide variety of accessories that end up in the corner after a short time. "If children notice that they are not particularly good at a sport, they lose the fun in it," says the father of three children. Sports analytics want to counteract this and convey joy in movement.

Reserved for surprises

The three hours are over quickly, and all the children have shown their full commitment. They chased each other, stood on one leg with their eyes closed, and did acrobatic stick exercises. But the 500-meter run really exhausted her. Even the brightest stretch their legs after the endurance lap. "I'm glad I didn't put on the long trousers," says Karl, who can be seen to be how hot he is. Even Adrijan, who according to his parents has a lot of excess energy, now urgently needs carbohydrates: "Can I have a cut?"

After stretching, the children get their evaluations. The individual results are compared with 400,000 data from the global project, which is aimed at five to 16 year olds. It was presented for the first time at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and further developed by Charles University in Prague. The Czech Jakub Hajnik brought it to Austria.

Judo instead of basketball

The analyzes sometimes cause surprises: "It happens that a child is unexpectedly perfect for the shot put or an enthusiastic little basketball player for judo," said one trainer. But Moritz's father, who likes to run with his son, looks relieved: athletics is the first recommendation. "It fits!" He says. And Anton? He proudly presents the cheetah on his medal, which symbolizes speed and tactics. His recommendation: 100 percent soccer, followed by badminton and floorball. "It was clear anyway, mom," he grins and sprints through the hall again. (Marietta Adenberger, 3.2.2019)