Reviewing recent sports news, it’s clear the more organizations digitize their information, the more they can create a data landscape that allows for continuous communication, engagement, and course-correcting in the pursuit of higher performance. Two recent stories show the advantages to be gained from digitization, in areas critically important for elite sport teams (and pretty much everyone else): sleep and saving money. For clubs in the EPL, that sum could be £45 million a season.
Sleep analytics had a hand in Brentford’s promotion
Sleep expert Anna West and Brentford’s Emiliano Marcondes set out to strengthen the midfielder’s on-field performance through sleep analytics, in short, by collecting and analyzing Marcondes’s physiological data 24 hours a day – from heart rate to number of hours slept to levels of stress.
Armed with digitized data, West and the team could spot trends and design interventions to ensure he got the best rest possible for optimal on-field performance.
Recall now that Marcondes scored the Bee’s second goal over Swansea in May’s Championship play-off final – thereby clinching Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League – and Brentford’s investment in sleep analytics starts to look like a very good idea.
But sleep is just one factor that affects an athlete’s performance. There’s much, much more to unearth through digitized data at the individual and team level.
Digitizing data enables continuous improvement
Before Brentford’s big win, Marcondes was just an elite athlete embracing a performance intelligence mindset and delving into data – his data – to better understand his own performance. As a result, he was wide awake to trends both positive and negative, thanks to the information made available by Brentford’s smart investments in tech and talent.
West, Marcondes, and Brentford proved the underlying principle that you can take data and turn it into great decisions with big impact. Now let’s imagine applying to a much broader problem-set: the enormous cost of injuries in the English Premier League.
Injuries cost EPL teams £45 million per season. Data can help.
According to a recent study, EPL teams lose an average of £45 million sterling per season due to injury-related loss of performance. The study’s authors found a “statistically significant relationship … between the number of days out due to injuries suffered by team members during a season and the place difference between their actual and expected finish in the EPL table.”
This study isn’t just capturing the sunk costs of injured players’ salaries; it’s showing the knock-on financial impacts of earnings lost from injury-related dips in on-field performance.
This is a far more complex problem than optimizing one player’s sleep cycle, but digitization of data can help here too, if clubs can get the right analytical tools. While there’s lots of different options people are trying to adopt in response, these capabilities are all missing a high-enough level of scientific rigor to understand the true multifactorial nature of injuries and what’s required to resolve them. But what if they could understand that complexity? And why hasn’t the elite sports industry provided this capability?
Elite sport analytics needs a total transformation
Beyond sleep, beyond load, clubs and their athletes need a more rigorous analytics that lets them see the totality of forces at work on their athletes. Something that let’s them stay awake to daily risk scores, but which also delivers solutions actionable at the individual level, based on their unique situations. A real solution simply can’t look at only one data source; it has to truly account for the bigger picture, embrace the complexity of not just injuries but performance across a club, across a league – and grant actionable insights that lets coaches, staff and athletes attack problems.
I’m excited to share that we’re working on something now that I believe will be a major step toward helping teams meet this challenge. We’ll be announcing it soon, but until then, I’ll be sharing thoughts on sport’s most impactful developments and news on an ongoing basis. I welcome your feedback on Twitter or at email@example.com.