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To say that sport is getting more tactical and technical would certainly be an understatement. To say that technology, analysis and predictive analytics are helping to improve sport, sportspeople and their health would be hitting the nail on the head.

There are increasing examples of sport and technology intertwining. Major statistic companies; Optastats, Prozone and Infostrata have cropped up to analyse and evaluate players movements, touches, decisions, heart rates and general fatigue levels.

There are also examples like Moneyball – the fairytale story of the 2002 World Series Winners – Oakland Athletic – – a team exclusively picked on statistics to form and make a team.

IBM have taken this one step further, with their predictive analytics software tools; in particular SSPS – In this instance, IBM have teamed up with Leicester Tigers; the most successful Rugby Union team in the UK to develop and create a series of reports and analytical statistics to help with player and team development, performance, preparation and recovery.

Key comments within the article explain how the IBM predictive analytics are designed to help the Tigers ‘broaden and deepen the analysis of both objective and subjective raw data, such as fatigue levels and game intensity levels.’

Furthermore, with these analytics the Tigers are able to analyse psychological player data, to reveal other potentially key performance affective factors. For instance, away games may cause higher stress levels than home games and social or environmental stress could significantly change the way players perform during a match or predispose a player to injury.

The Tigers will use the IBM analytics system right down to Under 19 level; to refine the selection process and assess who are the best players for any given occasion and future career progression. As Jeremy Shaw, business analytics lead for media and entertainment at IBM says, ‘sport is no longer just a game, it’s become more and more a scientific undertaking which is driven by data and numbers. Gone are the days of relying on raw talent and gut instinct to succeed.’

It’s become that much more integral due to the cash involved in the game. Nowadays, the simple fact is that there is direct correlation between the relationship of on-field performance and financial gain through sponsorship, ticket money, TV deals and hospitality.

One thing is for sure. Technology and science is here to stay in the world of sport.


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