My name is John Young. I’m currently studying my PhD at La Trobe University in Melbourne. My focus area of my research is based on deep learning in high-performance sport. I consult for teams both here in Australia and overseas, particularly in America, looking both at analyzing data for those teams and also trying to create metrics for them as well, to evaluate their players and their coaches. A scientist by its nature is research and creating something new, and the sports data scientist is no different. They’re trying to create something new and tangible and valuable to any team. It’s about our ability to quickly process gigabytes of data from each game, creatively collect data on the other teams and mine that data for insights for the coaching staff, based on data and sports science best practice. Previously when I worked for the Central Coast Mariners I evaluated the gameplay at the end of each week so then they can gain an understanding of who they were playing against, what type of competition that we’re going to do, what was common, what were the common features about that team, where were the strengths and weaknesses. A sports data analyst can see things in the data that others cannot. In the NFL you can have up to 180 million bytes of data for a game, like heart rate, skin temperature, perspiration, information about the players gait, etc. to give coaches information specific to about each player and their position. That has the potential to reduce injuries, improve performance and extend athletes’ careers. In swimming and triathlon, I’m constantly using data all the time in their training and setting their training up for raceday. The data is collected in in many different ways. It can be visually collected through cameras, GPS.
Tracking system is a big one, biometrically now, by satellites or radio frequency tags during the game. I’m constantly carrying around hard drives. Teams, for example, need sports data analysts to quickly use the vast amount of data produced from each game and come up with data-driven insights to take their coaching way beyond watching video playback, to inform strategy to improve not only the team’s performance but individual performance and the opportunity to win. We’re only limited by our imaginations and then we’re only limited by the questions that the coaching staff or the players are asking us as well. But we need to be prepared. It’s gaining that edge.