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Squash to monetise players’ physiological data to attract more eyeballs (indianexpress.com)
50 points by mhb 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 30 comments





I used to wear a fitbit when playing squash but after a while heart rate data says the same boring stuff and doesnt help much.

Unsure if the tech is there but id be more interested if they tracked the players movements in detail using some form of motion capture. Squash is confined in a small room so its probably easier to do this than other sports. Have a fully digitised replay available for each game.

Then we could start analysing the data to show to amateurs how they should have moved and reacted within their own games compared to how the top players have reacted in similar situations.


This is a neat idea. PSA currently shows a movement heat map over the course of each game but it isn’t interesting either - they are all just very similar looking blobs.

I would love to see slow-motion breakdowns, but that might only be interesting to fans who play seriously. Then again, maybe that’s most fans since it is a more obscure sport?

I’m just glad they finally figured out that dark blue courts and a white ball is the only combination that gives people a hope of seeing the ball on TV. High def viewing helps too, of course, but the old color schemes used before 8-10 years ago made it impossible to see the ball.


Yeah, the blue/white combo has indeed revolutionized the TV viewing experience. We need more characters in the commentary box too though. Joey Barrington is good at what he does, but others are "Meh" so far.

A spot in the summer olympics would go a long way to improve everything, of course.


What is the deal with the commentators emphasizing when the players “fist pump” and pronouncing it strangely? Such a silly gimmick.

Considered carefully, heart rate data measures your tiredness (probably even better: how quickly it returns to baseline).

For pro athletes, comparing heart rate data to the player's typical patterns could tell you how hard they are being pushed and potentially give a very good indicator of who was going to win.


You could sell the data to gamblers, as well.

Not sure if squash is popular in the same markets as sports gambling, but there's at least some opportunity there.


There's a bunch of apps now sort of like this for golf: swing, posture, ball flight, etc.

Given something like this old post about tensorflow[1], you'd think this isn't even the worst hobby project if you can get some footage that a model likes. I've never really thought to try running NBA clips through it...

[1]https://medium.com/tensorflow/real-time-human-pose-estimatio...


PSA has done this in terms of heatmaps with sportsdatalabs. Personally I would invest into a video AI for let/no let system, as well as better camera systems for out of bounds calls ( like in tennis ). Also, switch to a lime ball on a blue or even black glass surface would make for even better watchability imo.

An AI system that makes let calls would revolutionise the sport!!

Accelerometers on the wrists, ankles, hips, and ... back of the head? And that would be enough to pretty much fully reconstruct the player's movements.

As an avid fan, I would be more interested in a)- how modern squash players train b)- if they can give me feedback on my game via video.

I once trained with a former World 80, he was a nephew of a former world-champion. His coaching and feedback on the game was 100 times better/different than the club's coach. Training with him for 15 days, I think, had 10x times more ROI than training with club coach.

These professional players / coaches are miles ahead. His feedback on my game, racket skill, movement, and even on warm-up was so different. I had never warmed-up like that before and his prescribed exercises was so different and effective.


Imagine the marketable aspect of this "openess". You watch a football (aka soccer) game, the score is 1-1, the game is in its first 20mins (70 left to play) and you see that team A has an average heartrate of 100, and team B has an average heartrate of 130. You can then place your (live) bet accordingly having this stress/fatigue/stamina factor (or whatever other metrics may be available).

I mean this with the utmost respect, but why is squash so damn popular with wealthy middle aged tech dudes?

The other replies make some good points about why people like squash, but here's more:

1) You only need one other person to get a high-intensity workout. This is much easier than reliably mustering 22 men for a soccer game, or 10 for basketball.

2) It's a medium-impact, mostly-non-contact sport that doesn't involve jumping, but does involve a lot of lunging motions. This means it causes waaaaay fewer injuries than e.g. basketball (esp. serious knee injuries), and also promotes flexibility in the hips and knees. That flexibility turns out to be important for general well-being and mobility as you get older.

3) You don't need a lot of gear, just the gym shoes and gym clothes you already have, plus a racquet and a 2 dollar ball. You can get a 20 dollar racquet or a 800 dollar racquet, depending on if you're a cheapskate or a gear nerd, or anything in between.

4) You can play it indoors, with or without the cooperation of the weather.


I have played squash and my wife is an orthopaedic surgeon. Per her, and from my experience, I can say that any serious squash is not easy on the joints (knees, ankles, thighs, hamstring, etc). I have done swimming, field-hockey, cricket and table-tennis (though not as a pro) and I can say this with a lot of confidence that Squash was the most intense even its in amateur/basic form.

But if you're in it for fun e.g. play it 3 times a week for like 20 mins then maybe yes, but definitely check this with your doctor.


Please buy goggles too!

Its still pretty bad sport re long term health, joints don't like this kind of stress, plus tripping/hitting walls. Its cheap on equipment, that's true. Its pretty engaging, but I would still recommend to anybody bouldering (no partner needed) or gym/rock climbing. From my personal experience, better in every possible way

It is a very "efficient" sport in terms of calories burned per unit time. And great fun too. This makes it popular with busy people - tech, finance - who are likely to pick a sport based on an excel sheet analysis :)

But I wish that the squash courts in US are not located within expensive athletic clubs, like in UK or Pakistan. That would've popularized the amazing sport more here in US.


It's efficient space-wise as well - a city-centre gym can fit squash courts more easily than tennis/volleyball/basketball.

I didn't believe this about basketball, since it accommodates 5x as many players, but it's true: a squash court is 62 sqm and a basketball court is 420 sqm. OK, you can't tile squash courts with no wasted space between, but you normally need some space out of bounds of the basketball court too.

It's a class-segregated sport in the US (not sure about elsewhere). This is called out in the tongue-in-cheek-but-mostly-accurate Official Preppy Handbook. For some reason it is "higher class" than racquetball, and, sure enough, racquetball courts are much easier to find in non-rich areas. Perhaps this is a case where the general principal from the same book holds true: the smaller the ball, the more Prep the sport (squash balls are smaller than those for racquetball).

Yeah, it's a problem. It just reflects the people who are where the playing courts are in the US. If there were courts anywhere but at wealthy coastal universities, more people might be into it. It's lots of fun.

When I was in England, it was so much more a common sport. I joined a club where there was even a bar serving food and booze in the middle of the squash court wings. I guess drinking is part of sport over there.


My interpretation is that the sport had a huge peak of interest in the 70s and that generation of players dominate the dwindling number of new players

I think it was the Economist who described squash as "chess at 100 miles-an-hour". If I had to guess techies like the speed and thinking that goes into it, and the intense cardio helps focus at work.

It's a logistically simple ubiquitous sport that is weather-independent. What else would they play, if they want a sport? The only thing simpler is running.

Because you typically play with one other person (unless you're doing doubles), it can be another way of casual networking.

It is? I thought it an old fashion thing? My partner was massively into it and even played competitively back in the 00s.

It's easy and fun plus a fantastic workout.

Until you get hit in the eye with a ball. (Yes, I foolishly used to play without eye protection)


With the Tour de France on at the moment, you have to wonder if live tracking and publishing cyclists physiological data could help with detection of doping, which has been endemic in the sport throughout the years.

But how? Investigating riders putting up higher watts than usual?

The already implemented biological passport makes more sense to me.




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