This is a review of the STEM sports science research conducted by John F. Drazan, Amy K. Loya, Benjamin D. Horne, and Ron Eglash.
Sports analytics give us a tool that can be used to reach out and help youth people gain skills through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education that will help them throughout their lives. It is possible to introduce data gathering and statistical analysis to students while they work to improve their own skills in sports through STEM sports science. Many young people have a dream of playing professional sports, however, statistics show that only a very few will attain this dream. It is possible to harness this desire to improve their ability in sports to teach them other skills that prove useful in other more attainable job opportunities.
Analysts have been working to make NBA statistics easier for people to understand. One method is graphical representations, specifically shooting and defensive efficiency maps. Basic stats such as shooting percentage and scoring efficiency can be gathered the old-fashioned way, writing it down and working out the basic arithmetic. This can then be combined with heat maps, which show the students how they need to improve their shooting skills, where they should be shooting from, and how they can become players that are more effective.
The players involved in the study took part in a shooting clinic. The leaders introduced basic statistics and then the students practiced taking shots from various positions on the court and recording their results as to how many baskets they made from each location. The data from their results was entered into a shooting analytics program to build individual heat maps
Two separate heat maps were developed for each player. The first showed baskets made per location. Coloured dots represented the percentage of baskets made at each location. This gave the students a visual representation of where they were strongest in their shooting ability and where they needed more practice.
The second map showed point efficiency. The coloured dots indicated the point value of the shooting percentage at each location. Players could see from which position they were able to score the most points and use that information to their advantage in their games. Coaches could use this to discuss offensive and defensive strategies based on the players’ strengths and weaknesses. They could also use this type of map to evaluate the strengths and weakness of their players and build programs specifically designed to help each player improve in their weaker areas.
The participants completed a survey prior to the shooting exercise and again after the discussions regarding the heat maps. The survey indicated that students had a positive response to the study and an improved perception of science topics. The participants also gained confidence in their knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, and a greater understanding of how their shot performance varied, depending on where they stood on the court.
This approach would be a valuable tool for coaches of younger players. It provides a visual representation, which would be easier for the players to understand. This understanding could lead to a greater willingness to practice in order to improve their weaknesses and continue to build up their strengths.
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