First application of artificial intelligence in Belgian hockey

Red Panthers partnering with PwC for in-depth data analysis to improve their performance during the upcoming European Championships.

13 August 2019 - On the eve of the EuroHockey Nations Championship taking place in Antwerp from 16 to 25 August, the Belgian Red Panthers are in their final stages of preparation. In addition to intensive training, our national women's hockey team now also relies on artificial intelligence. The Red Panthers partnered with PwC Belgium to strengthen their performance based on in-depth data analysis, a first in Belgian hockey.


Top performance on the field thanks to data analysis expertise

The Red Panthers just entered the top 10 of the world ranking in June, after a successful Pro League demonstrating that in professional sports, small, but significant differences decide about winning or losing.

In order to maximize the results of our national women's hockey team at the next European Championship, PwC's Data & Analytics team, in collaboration with the Royal Belgian Hockey Association, has deployed its extensive expertise in the field of data analysis to improve the performance of our hockey players and has developed a unique algorithmic system to measure player performance.

The analysis of the data of the hockey players goes much deeper than the 'traditional' analysis of post-match statistics. Parameters such as the total distance covered, top speeds and rest times of the hockey players are recorded and analysed in a specially designed dashboard. The Red Panthers thus maximise their performance in two ways. First, the analysis determines the ideal 'play to rest ratio', allowing individual players to play at the right moments in the game. Secondly, the strengths of the team can be optimized with insights into physical parameters such as the 'workrate sweet spot' (the amount of meters ran per minute on the field).

Floris Ampe, Partner at PwC Belgium: "Hockey is a very explosive sport with unique rules, notably the unlimited player changes. Using algorithms, we can predict the performance of our Belgian hockey team and expose patterns and correlations that were previously unknown.

Adam Commens, High Performance Director at the Royal Belgian Hockey Association: ​ “It’s fantastic to have our Red Panthers involved in such an innovative project. As usual, hockey is one of the more innovative sports in using data to shape the way a team trains and performs. This collaboration with our partner PwC aims to keep the Belgian Hockey teams ahead of the curve in terms of how we prepare and perform at major international events such as the European Championship.”


A winning team: PwC and the Belgian Red Panthers

PwC Belgium is a proud partner of our national hockey teams and is very pleased to be able to support them in the stands, but also in their tactics

Floris Ampe, Partner at PwC Belgium: PwC has many commonalities with hockey: values such as diversity, teamwork and passion are of paramount importance in both sports and consulting. With the help of these analyses, we are convinced that our proud national hockey team is ready for the exciting European Championship and beyond.”

In this respect, the use of data analysis is a first in Belgium. By collaborating on this project, PwC has progressively identified other ideas and possibilities. Like our national hockey teams, PwC Belgium teams constantly use technology to improve their customers' processes.

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