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The Seasonal Sports Grind and Managing a Path to Greatness

Find the competitive edge amid the drama.


Stephen Smith


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This past week we watched with great pride and interest as the drama of sports played out on both sides of the Atlantic. We saw the explosion of joy as Luton F.C. (in dramatic fashion) and Burnley F.C. moved up to the Premier League next season, while one of the darlings of previous years, Leicester City, fell off the table and back to The Championship as relegation and promotion took its place in the U.K.

On the other side of the pond, we have the drama of the unexpected in both the NHL and the NBA, with a Stanley Cup Final set between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers (two markets which NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman pointed out at the Sports Business Journal Sports Business awards last week, didn’t even exist when he took the helm leading the league), while the Miami Heat, a team seeing a significant resurgence of history, and the Denver Nuggets, made it to the NBA Finals – pairings which few could have predicted just a few weeks, let alone months ago.

Then we have the constant and steady shifts in leadership and head coaching positions that occur at this time of year…in Europe, as the football season winds down, we have already seen shifts at elite clubs like FC Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Leeds United, while in the NBA and the NHL the coaching and front office carousel has included changes even at recent championship teams like the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks…as teams with multi-billion dollar valuations try and figure out the best ways to extract success on and off the field from their organizations.

Exploiting technology and actionable intelligence to succeed.

It is all a reminder that the drama, the passion and the interest in professional team sports never ceases, and the pressure to succeed has never been greater. Now there is no doubt that when you get past the passion of the fans, the performance side can be anything but sexy. Whether it is Serie A, the Danish Super League (where we recently announced expansive partnerships), the NBA, MLS (where we are learning and growing with our Columbus Crew partnership), the NCAA or the NWSL, the season is a high pressure grind where everyone involved is searching for an edge to success, or a best practice to manage the challenges faced on a day-to-day basis.

That’s where we continue to expand our reach and our level of expertise, using data, technology and a deep level of learning with a growing number of partners to help those teams and clubs manage the path to greatness and find solutions in training, strategy and performance that provide a proprietary edge. It’s also why we recently announced an expanded partnership with the Falk School at Syracuse University to look much deeper at areas that perplex the modern club and its leadership…ones related to load management, back-to-back games, travel, and other areas of health and wellness that were just accepted as part of the grind. The days of just “sucking it up” are long past. The stakes are too high to just accept, and to not find solutions, and we thrive in solving the puzzles and challenges presented in global sport performance.

So, while we all watch and enjoy the championships in North America in the coming weeks as fans, and look to see how things literally play out across Europe in soccer, it is really “go time” for us more than at any other time of the year. We revel in the success our partners have and in the part we can play helping them nuance perfection, while we dig deeper with clubs that fell during the grind as we problem solve and help them perform to aspiring higher in the future.

While fans can revel or despair with wins and losses of the clubs they support, from a business side we are always focused on the win…the wins in health and fitness improvement, in better use of data, the wins in successful and effective talent acquisition, the wins in avoiding and managing injury…all with minimal drama. That’s what we revel in, steady and solid improvement behind the scenes, which can add up to success on the biggest stages around the world.

For those still playing after a long grind, best of luck. For those retooling for what comes next, we are here working through the challenges with you. We understand the high stakes, and are providing the solutions.

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I share my thoughts on sport’s most impactful developments and news on an ongoing basis. I welcome your feedback on Twitter or at



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  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen is Kitman Labs’ CEO and founder. He was previously Senior Injury Rehabilitation & Conditioning Coach at Leinster Rugby Club. Stephen holds a BSc in Sport & Exercise Rehab and MSc in Football Rehab from Edgehill University.

    View all posts CEO & Founder of Kitman Labs


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