Malinga and Pieterson could have regaled the crowds in the IPL

Jun 02, 2016

Mumbai Indians were in for a shock when they discovered that Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan fast bowler, was ruled out of the IPL. He had been battling a persistent knee injury. Ditto Kevin Pieterson, who left his fans disappointed due to a calf injury—breaking the hearts of millions of his supporters. The damage is most seriously inflicted on teams, who lose out on the match-winning and crowd-pulling factor of their star players and are forced to re-strategize. It is a financial setback for sponsors too who paid tons of money to sign the player.
According to a survey conducted by Deskera, a Cloud-based Analytics company, players lose between 20 and 35 percent of their salaries due to injuries, with 10% of these injuries being serious, causing long-term harm.

Long ride into the sunset

And it is not only the big league players who fall prey to the vicissitudes of physical competition. Mushtaque Ahmad, a budding pacer from Patna, represented his university in 2009. He quickly became a local hero, drawing comparisons with the likes of Botham and Imran Khan. Mushtaque quickly climbed the ladder and was in the reckoning for representing his state in 2009. Things were indeed bright for the young fellow until disaster struck in the form of knee injury.

How Big Data Analytics can help prevent injuries

Could all this have been avoided? This is the question that a lot of technology buffs are trying to answer. A combination of latest technologies such as Big Data Analytics, Cloud and Internet of Things promises to help sports management teams avoid such setbacks by reducing the risk of injuries.
Players are made to wear a non-obtrusive vest equipped with sensors; thus, all vital parameters are recorded and analyzed. Not only that, actionable data is also collected from various others sources as well such as video, text, and historical structured and unstructured data. All that produces real-time analytics that a physio or physical trainer would find useful in managing the well-being of a player.

Generally, there are several factors that can result in sports injuries—exhaustion during training, hydration levels, weather, age of the player, and technique. Data is compiled from different sources such as trainings, physical fitness tests, matches, demographics, and location.

A statistical formula is applied to derive the risk of injury. The risk of each kind of injury for a player is considered and presented with simple representations to the team coaches and physiotherapists. They are also given the possible reasons for the risk, so that suitable remedial measures can be taken. The simulation capability enables trainers and physiotherapists to comprehend problematic areas.

The new Cloud-based Big Data tool Improves efficiency in player treatment with an injury catalog, which helps in managing injury and treatment and registers the data of each player to help physiotherapists track critical health parameters. Sports organizations can help identify weaknesses or changes in performance early on, maximize player availability, and consequently prevent injury. The technology provides sports organizations greater visibility into players‘ health parameters, including emerging trends and growing risks. Big Data Analytics predicts, monitors, and helps implement relevant intervention programs by analyzing huge quantities of available data together with live data to help compute the possible risk of injury to yield personalized management of players’ well-being.

Customized health recovery programs for players

The career of a fast bowler is limited to only a few prime years to excel. Injuries have the potential to destroy the career of a player. Many of these injuries are non-accidental in nature and they can be prevented if the risk is detected early. The new technology identifies the risks and on the basis of that Analytics, players can be placed in customized health and training programs to prevent injuries. It also extrapolates patterns, with mathematical predictive models forecasting possibilities of injury. Unlimited number of factors can be analyzed and patterns and relations culled from the data. This capability will help team physiotherapists to identify problem areas for the player and the factors adding to the risk of injury. A key feature of the solution is also the ability to generate custom risk profiles for each athlete and define tailored personal intervention programs.

“In terms of evaluating bowlers when they come into the laboratory, we give them a comprehensive analysis of their alignment of their shoulders and their hips during delivery. It’s a 3D analysis,” said Sydney University cricket biomechanics researcher Dr Eduard Rene Ferdinands in a news article about the Big Data technology, and who specializes in motion analysis and dynamics modeling.

“We map the kinematics of the entire body and develop a performance profile including injury risk areas. Then sit down with the player and after evaluating their previous history of injury, work out whether any technical interventions are necessary,” he added.

Aussie pacer Shaun Tait, who had to retire early from international cricket due to a history of injuries, said:

“I wish this had happened 13 years ago. Technology like this is proof that sometimes you need to rest for a couple of days. You can manage players through a series or a season. This is the best technology I’ve seen for fast bowlers.”

With the advent of this new technology, it is hoped that the Mushtaques of India don’t have to warm the benches and miss out on the action on the ground.

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