Microsoft to 'transform analytics' with new platform

Seattle Reign are already using the Platform

Seattle Reign are already using the Platform

MICROSOFT has launched a new Sports Performance Platform which it says could enable teams to predict injuries and prolong players’ careers.

The Platform is a “customised sports analytics solution that will help both athletes and sports teams make better, faster and more data-driven decisions,” and is already being used by Seattle Reign, Real Sociedad, Benfica and Cricket Australia.

“What sets Sports Performance Platform 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,” Microsoft said.

The Platform is built on Power BI, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Surface devices and gives access to advances in cloud computing, data aggregation, machine learning and predictive analytics. Coaches are able to “create an aggregate view of insights on an athlete’s performance, recovery and readiness, enabling them to run predictive modelling 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 teams to “deploy and customise” the platform and the likes of Benfica have been digitising their historical data and improving the way they manage it in recent years.

There are four main steps involved in using the platform:

  1. Gathering: 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.
  2. Aggregation: The Platform aggregates data from these sources into one centralised view.
  3. Display: Power BI is used to provide live dashboards that offer a view into player readiness, training and soreness, among other factors. This dashboard shows each player’s speed and distance on a given day. This data is then used by coaches to plan an individual’s training and recovery programme.
  4. Decisions: The data should help the coach make informed decisions: on how many days of recovery to give each player, on how hard to train them, and so on. Performance can be tracked over a season, or multiple seasons.

“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,” the company said.

“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?

“Microsoft’s goal is to make those technologies accessible to all levels of sport – professional, academy, high school, individual athletes and coaches. A gap still exists between collecting and organising data and actually seeing and predicting trends and patterns that enable better, faster decision-making.”

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