Top German Professional (Team) Handball League Revamped By Player Tracking
The LIQUI MOLY Handball-Bundesliga (HBL) and KINEXON have worked together closely since the 2019 – 20 season. Christian Günther, KINEXON expert for strategic partnerships, explains how adding player tracking and ball tracker technology has players, coaches, and fans seeing team handball in a completely different light.
Author: Christian Günther
When the LIQUI MOLY HBL and KINEXON joined forces, they created something entirely new. For the first time, a big sports league implemented sensor-based tracking of the ball and players into its gaming operations to make the data available to all teams, as well as advertising and media partners.
On the one hand, the league was looking for new solutions for load management, training conception, and tactical analysis. At the same time, it aimed to make handball more accessible — the driving force: creating a more appealing media product while attracting new fans and potential partners.
Every arena of the LIQUI MOLY HBL received its KINEXON system that provides every player’s real-time movement data. Ball tracking followed step by step. The challenge there: in the beginning, the balls by SELECT were the only ones compatible with KINEXON’s technology.
Thanks to strenuous efforts, all of the HBL’s ball partners joined over time – – and during the 2021 – 22 season, ball tracking, for the first time, was being used during every game.
“The collaboration and the data network strengthen the HBL’s reputation as one of the most innovative and progressive sports leagues.”
Revolutionizing The Team Handball Experience
Acceleration. Jumps. Shot speed. Shot charts. The combination of player and ball-tracking data provides never-before-seen insights. In the end, clubs, fans, media, and advertising partners received over 180 metrics and were full of praise.
For clubs, the data paved the way for new marketing opportunities. Today, more than half of the HBL’s teams use KINEXON’s tracking data for marketing purposes and to generate new sources of income.
The league’s data sponsor, DKB, created an entirely new and innovative experience: during several games, fans could follow metrics such as shot and sprint speed on the HBL’s LED advertising panels around the court. Plus, there was HPI, a data-based performance index for players. That way, fans gained deeper insights, and facts underpinned what they had seen.
The HBL, KINEXON and other partners worked together closely to achieve all this. As equals, all parties continuously pushed for new ideas and kept developing the digitalization of the world’s strongest handball league – even during the challenging pandemic period.
HBL Clubs Benefit From Sports Analytics
At the same time, the collaboration’s initial period provided valuable insights.
KINEXON managed to inspire several teams to use its player and ball tracking solutions around their training facilities. Some of the teams include:
- THW Kiel, MT Melsungen
- SC DHfK Leipzig
- FRISCH AUF! Göppingen
- HC Erlangen
However, there remains unused potential for the sports performance software’s widespread distribution among the entire league.
“Our clubs have realized that the use of data makes the handball system stronger and more competitive. Those who have recognized this are also willing to make additional investments in personnel and training systems.”
The more clubs can bring together match an and sports performance data, the more they will benefit from the advantages player and ball tracking provides, including load management and injury prevention.
Helping players peak at the right moment can perfect one’s strategy. Metrics can contribute to numerous aspects. Especially considering the HBL’s tight schedule.
“We must also enable clubs to use the data in their training facilities. We have to clearly highlight the benefits, especially for a club’s coaching staff and front office. At the same time, we need to explain how coaching staffs can use the metrics clearly.”
Player and Ball Tracking: Sports Data Creates Context for Coaches
Context is crucial, as a single metric never leads to new insights. Neither for clubs, coaches, and players nor for fans. Hence, it is vital to provide the data with context. That is the only way they can tell a story and make handball more accessible.
For example, using metrics, it is possible to single out a player’s passing chart and put it into certain in-game situations’ contexts. It helps coaches to answer questions like:
- How does the player react under pressure?
- How many opponents were between him and his successful pass’s addressee?
- Is the player still at full strength?
Using proper context, those metrics can tell a player’s story while explaining his importance to his team.
“Together we can unlock the power of data storytelling with game-changing technology — bridging the gap between information and emotion.”
That offers added value, especially for editorial teams and media partners: metrics can lay the groundwork for real “data stories” to complement the TV broadcast and streams, particularly since there exists data from day one of the collaboration between the HBL and KINEXON.
Using tangible metrics, we can trace handball’s development over the years. Therefore, if all goes according to plan, phase one of the partnership between the HBL and KINEXON creates the base for a never-seen-before team handball and media product.
Any questions? Please contact one of our player or ball tracking experts.
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