Sports ignite peoples’ passion like nothing else. Standout athletes become legends through their performance on the field. But what sets them apart often comes down to decisions made off the field, such as diet, mental and physical preparation and the frequency or intensity of practice. The difference between a win or a loss can be decided by an extra five minutes of wind sprints, levels of hydration or getting to bed 30 minutes earlier the night before.
At Microsoft, we believe sports provide a tremendous opportunity to use technology to transform how individual athletes and teams push the limits and gain the edge they’re looking for in the most challenging of circumstances. Imagine making clutch decisions that are based on insight, rather than gut. And what if coaches could prevent an injury and extend an athlete’s career by correcting her technique or making a small tweak to her training program?
That is Microsoft’s vision, and today at Hashtag Sports we announced our Sports Performance Platform, a Microsoft Garage project – a customized, sports analytics solution that will help both athletes and sports teams make better, faster and more data-driven decisions. Teams such as the Seattle Reign FC, Real Sociedad, Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Cricket Australia are already using Sports Performance Platform’s predictive outcome modeling and analytics capabilities to track and improve player performance. Microsoft’s goal is to make those technologies accessible to all levels of sport – professional, academy, high school, individual athletes and coaches.
To help gain a competitive edge, teams have spent the past few years digitizing their historical data and improving their data management skills. But a gap still exists between collecting and organizing data and actually seeing and predicting trends and patterns that enable better, faster decision-making.
Built on Power BI, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Surface devices, Sports Performance Platform helps athletes and teams close that gap by giving them access to advances in cloud computing, data aggregation, machine learning and predictive analytics. Combined, these solutions can transform how they play based on new data-driven decisions made on the sidelines, in the locker room and in the sports performance lab.
Coaches can create an aggregate view of insights on an athlete’s performance, recovery and readiness, enabling them to run predictive modeling for injury prevention, make clutch-time decisions on a player’s game-day availability and design practice regimens that keep each athlete playing at the optimum level. Microsoft partners Akvelon, Fair Play and POP are helping customers deploy and customize Sports Performance Platform.
The Seattle Reign FC is one of the first teams to use Sports Performance Platform. Laura Harvey, head coach for the Seattle Reign FC, and Nick Leman, director of high performance, use GPS data from Catapult and the Fit For 90 monitoring platform to track data about factors such as a player’s heart rate, speed, acceleration and deceleration. Sports Performance Platform aggregates data from these disparate sources into one centralized view.
Sports Performance Platform leverages Power BI to provide live dashboards that offer a view into player readiness, training and soreness, among other factors. This dashboard is showing each player’s speed and distance on any given day. This data is then used to validate the design and efficacy of each day’s training plan.
Following each match, Leman can review the GPS and Fit for 90 data in one centralized view within the platform. If the players sprinted more than normal, then they might experience more muscle soreness, and if the temperature on game day was especially hot, then they might have experienced more cardiovascular fatigue. Having this data can help Leman give informed recommendations to Harvey on how many days of recovery to give each player, and how hard to train her during her first session back.
Reign coaches and performance staff can also track athlete performance over a season, or multiple seasons, more easily and look for players with the speed, agility and explosiveness that are vital for excelling at the professional level. The team is also planning to extend Sports Performance Platform to its Reign Academy, which provides coaching and training for up-and-coming female soccer players in the Pacific Northwest.
The field of sports science has evolved dramatically from its beginnings in the ’60s, when pencil, paper and clipboard were state of the art. Today, nearly a dozen different platforms offer services to help athletes and teams by tracking their historical data.
What sets Sports Performance Platform from Microsoft apart is the availability of machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to help predict likely outcomes, and use those insights to make better coaching decisions. Sports Performance Platform builds on our history of working with sporting organizations like NASCAR and the PGA TOUR. Together with our technology partners, we’re creating customized solutions that will deliver the next generation of sports performance for athletes and teams everywhere.
Learn more by visiting the Microsoft Garage site here. Additionally, sports organizations interested in receiving the latest updates and availability can sign up to receive our regular communications here.
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