CHENNAI: Even as the hooter cut through the Incheon air to signal the start of the penalty shootout in the men’s field hockey final at the 2014 Asian Games, Aadhithya Chakravarthy was quietly confident. The lead performance analyst for the men’s senior team, Aadhithya had filmed and coded around 200 penalty sessions of the team and he knew they would win.
“When we got to the shootout against Pakistan in the Asian Games, I knew we would win,” he says. “It was strongly backed up by the data.”The reliance of data and statistics in project matches is still a grey area but Aadhithya, who works with Chennai-based SportsMechanics (Hockey India is one of their clients), has been involved in numbers for about six years.
After graduating from Sathyabama University, Aadhithya left for the UK to pursue Masters in Sports Biomechanics at Loughborough in 2008-09. There, while doing his dissertation (in association with the England and Wales Cricket Board) on the factors that affect spin bowling, he decided to become a performance analyst.
“I was giving data and information to the coaches but I didn’t actually see the athletes and how they improve,” he says. “So I wanted to move to performance analysis and see how the team/athletes improve in front of my eyes.”
He landed a job offer from SportsMechanics and got his first big break with Jaypee Punjab Warriors in 2014 and one of the coaches there referred him to the national team soon after the 2014 edition of the Hockey India League (HIL).
Working with numbers and video may not be everyone’s idea of what to do in a stadium but it is challenging to say the least. “If India is playing a game today, I will film and code not only that game but also all the other opponents as well,” says the 28-year-old, who reserves three of his four laptops for players whenever they seek information or video analysis.
Tamil Nadu may not have produced an international player in sport since Adam Sinclair but it’s safe to say there will at least be one Tamil in Rio de Janeiro, come August.