Data was never so important in sports as it is today. Clubs in all professional sports hire data analysts, data scouts and their opinion is gaining importance. But it’s one thing to generate data, it’s another to do something useful with it. And here is an open field that we want to cover.
Clubs, coaches and federations have a lot of data which is misused or even unused. They are collected from manual input and from a wide range of individual data collectors. Some of them are even stored on paper (yup, in 2018). Performance data is not plotted with medical data, scouting data is not linked with performance data and go on. This is finally changing in all sports.
Top players in cycling (Team Sky) and football (Manchester City) influence other teams. Team Sky has proven that science can help them find the marginal gains on their opponents. Players at Manchester City are continuously monitored by their science team with the help of blood and saliva tests. Every decision is backed by stats & figures and used by the performance management department
“The modern player wants to know what he is doing, both in terms of his physical performance as well as his technical performance, so they come to us for information. Our job is to feed the information into the coaching staff and the manager to help with their planning.” Dr Sam Erith — Manchester City FC.
The wearable market in sports is still in an early phase but exciting things are coming. Sensors in soles, shirts are promising but still face a big problem. While all wearables can be used in training, using them during an actual game is not common. Legislation is one problem, technical issues are second.
Smart shirts are not flexible and soft so they can injure an opponent. Using the wearable data realtime looks simple but common technologies like WIFI or Bluetooth are simply failing in a stadium filled with 70 000 spectators (and smartphones). This will all change in the near future. The industry is growing and technology is becoming smaller and better.
USE CASE: REAL TIME PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN CYCLING
For cycling we developed In The Race. It is a HIGH-TECH, technology-driven REALTIME PERFORMANCE MONITORING PLATFORM for cyclists. It registers and monitors in REAL TIME athlete’s data and output — such as position in the race, power, speed, fatigue and lactic acid build-up. The system collects and interprets all data and provides a 100% RELIABLE BASE for training- and race strategies.
Our starting point was the coverage of Formula 1 which uses a lot of data to enrich the viewers experience. Another reason is the incident during the final kilometers of the World Championships in Bergen. Suddenly there were network issues and nobody in the world was able to follow the latest events. With In The Race fans and journalists would have been able to at least see who’s in front and who’s chasing.
Of course we took a look at some previous experiments with expensive helicopters and data trucks but that didn’t look sustainable for us. That’s why we did it differently by using a tracker device that is using data connection to transfer its data. Every second data from every ANT+ sensor the rider or his bike is equipped with is transferred. The idea is that the linear tv coverage can be broken and a fan can follow his favourite rider all the time. Linking the GPS location of the rider and the location of TV cameras enables a fan to see passings of his favourite rider while seeing its data realtime.
With our partner Sniper Cycling Team we worked on using In The Race for realtime performance management. The course of the Belgian Championships was plotted with power and heart rate data so they could see in which parts of the course their riders were losing too much energy. On a dashboard they were able to see the performance of their riders realtime and change their race strategy immediately. And this is only the beginning, we are working on comparing lab tests with realtime data so energy levels can be calculated for all members of the team.
This blogpost is inspired by our cooperation with Cronos Sports Tech.