By Guest Journalists: Thariq Kara & Whitney Stowell
The sports tech industry continues to grow at a tremendous pace, anticipated to be at least a $4 billion market by just next year according to a recent Deloitte study, fueled by an increased appetite for performance data to make data-driven decisions. With razor-thin margins between winning and losing, teams have realized the advantage that data analytics provides. GPS devices, video coding, biometrics, and more provide a plethora of options for teams to gather data about the athlete and team performance. Rugby has been no exception in the race to increase data and tech to assist team performance.
Whilst many teams have embraced the specific solutions noted above, few have embraced the concept of data management – a somewhat foreign concept in many industries, not just sport. Data Management principals focus on centralizing data and joining the data sources across multiple point solutions to analyze it holistically. Good data management principles lead to well-organized, secure data sets – versus many of the current trends in the sporting world where analysts walk off the job with all team’s GPS data on their laptop, or, more commonly, there is zero return on investment for the sports tech that has been purchased: coach still relies on his gut, and not the data.
Athstat, a sports data management and analytics start-up based in Leesburg, VA, has started to look more closely at the data management concepts throughout the sports industry and aims to help teams get more from their data and solve the issue of analysis paralysis.
Athstat & Premier Rugby Sevens
One of the core concepts around robust data management includes the ability to share data accurately and efficiently. A strong use case for Athstat to prove their data management principles occurred this summer when they partnered with Premier Rugby Sevens (PR 7s) for their 2022 season. Athstat covered all 3 tournaments (San Jose, Washington, DC, and Championship in Austin) providing game-day stats and analysis for the competition. Data was shared across multiple stations including the following:
- Competition Management Officials
- Digital / Social Media
- Coaching Staff
- Sports Betting Operators
Much of the game-day data was provided in real-time and available on the PR 7s website (https://prsevens.com/results-2022/) for journalists and fans. It was also provided via Analytical Programming Interface (API), for machine-to-machine consumption. Data was pulled from analysts at the tournaments watching the matches and actively incorporated into the overall Athstat platform. From a tackle to a pass to a line break, the analysts, with a simple click of a button on the platform, could input critical information to the Athstat platform to lock in what happened and provide a breakdown of the review match, and share it across different consumers.
Match by match and week by week, you were able to see trends and analysis of how players performed, gaps and highlights that occurred, and the development of a leaderboard across several core elements (as noted above). The platform was customizable to what the league wanted, and what PR 7s wanted to track, and the team could respond quickly to any changes in schedule. Additionally, for the DC leg, Athstat was able to ingest and analyze GPS data provided by McLloyd.
Aside from pro clubs wanting to manage their data resources, how can clubs and college teams use a data platform such as Athstat for their organization moving forward? With matches every weekend for 15s (and 7s over the summer here in the USA), how often is your club tracking basic scores and play-by-play? Are you making substitutions at the right time? Do you have tackling or passing issues that need to be addressed? How are you preparing for the upcoming season? At a more basic level, are you still using pen and paper or even excel to track data, and can you do a better job of sharing data with your players, front office, and fans?
Benefits of a data platform like Athstat include:
- Central Depository – Review all the data after every match from one location, share with players and coaches to see where the gaps are, and organize more effective practices, discussions watching films, and so on.
- Save Time – Clubs usually only practice several days a week, you want to maximize your time with each other, so having a player and match information at your fingertips is critical
- Command & Control – Set what metrics you want to see and track what you want
- Visualization – See where, when, who, player analysis, and modeling of matches to best structure your game plan in preparation for your next match – you can do this using basic data points
- Video Data – Get a basic analysis done on the platform – breakdown matches to generate heatmaps of team performance
- Time Series – even basic stats like scores or conversions over time can help a team make decisions based on trends and patterns
From partnering with PR 7s. to the 2022 USA Club 7s National Champions NAV Sevens to the South Florida Rugby Club to Zimbabwe’s National Rugby Union team ‘The Sables’ to others, Athstat is working with other professional clubs and amateur organizations to integrate data more and more into their coaching set up to make decisions.
Growing off the pitch is incredibly important to help clubs win on the pitch. We look to help organizations with their data analysis and data management needs, to make data-driven decisions to improve their overall goals. We believe that relying on well-curated data is essential to helping teams grow and crush their goals. Get a full 360 view of all your data, to make the most of your season, tournament, and players.