Sports Analytics, Injury and IBM
Analytics is becoming a critical asset for professional sports teams, as sports increasingly becomes a technical and scientific business. Like any commercial organization, Leicester Tigers, the nine times champion of English rugby union’s Premiership and two times European champion, is faced with challenges around growing and retaining talent, measuring performance, optimizing tactics and detecting risk.
The Leicester Tigers are the most successful English rugby union club of the past 25 years, winning the Premiership title a record nine times and twice capturing the European championship. Later this month, they’ll play in their eighth consecutive league final. In an effort to maintain that impressive success, the club is working with IBM to use statistical analysis software in assessing the likelihood of injury.
One of the world’s leading rugby teams is about to learn whether the sport, once described as “a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen,” can benefit from the genteel field of science. Players wear equipment during training that captures statistics like heart rate as well as the forces absorbed by rugby’s frequent jarring hits. Data are uploaded to the team’s database, where IBM’s modeling software looks for patterns. Additional info is drawn from player questionnaires that could provide insight into their stress levels and injury history.
The analytics system will be used right down to the Tigers’ under-19 level, to refine the selection process and assess who are the best players to move onto the next level and potentially to the first team. “Sport is no longer just a game, it’s becoming more and more a scientific undertaking which is driven by data and numbers,” commented Jeremy Shaw, business analytics lead for media and entertainment at IBM.
Predictive analytics has become an integral part of the sports world. The project between the Leicester Tigers and IBM is part of a growing trend among all types of organizations to uncover hidden patterns in data in order to predict or prevent outcomes for competitive advantage. Advances in analytics now offer powerful insight and enhanced decision making to organizations across various industries, from healthcare and energy conservation to retailing and public safety.