Popularized in Brad Pitt’s Moneyball, the concept has triggered the adoption of data-driven principles in a variety of sports – with teams and coaches trying to gain a competitive advantage. But the latest innovation may be the biggest change in the game: this is how artificial intelligence will change the world of sports.
Invented by the artificial intelligence company Zone7, the new algorithm in Silicon Valley is used by NBA, NFL and Premier League teams as a way to detect the risk of injury and recommend preventive action. One of these clubs, Liverpool FC, has played with great success this season in search of an unprecedented quadruple, reducing the number of days players have lost due to injury to 1,008 from over 1,500 in 2020/21.
The world of sports will change with the help of AI
Even more impressive are the days lost due to “substantial injuries” – those lasting more than nine days – as they have been reduced by almost half, from 1,409 to 841.
More than 50 sports clubs around the world now use Zone7’s AI program, although many want to remain anonymous in an effort to protect any competitive advantage the instrument can offer. Zone7 said it has teamed up with Major League Baseball teams to model the pitchers’ workload and kinematic profiles to prevent injury risk patterns.
The California-based company also uses machine learning modeling to analyze the relationship between workload and recovery in NBA players, as well as to create lawsuits for football teams around the risk of injury and performance compromises.
In addition to sports, Zone7 has also applied human performance technology to support hospital staff working in intense conditions caused by the Covid pandemic.
In the world of football, his experts have worked with the Spanish Getafe team for the past five years, breaking down performance data and predicting when players are at risk of injury. From 2017 to 2020, the club had a 70% reduction in the number of muscle injuries suffered and, in the 2018-19 season, had the lowest number of injuries, resulting in missed matches of the 20 clubs in La Liga.
The Zone7 system uses thousands of parameters from portable devices, including GPS news, plus in-game sprint statistics, sleep values, and biomarkers to predict the risk of injury. The company claims that it can accurately detect 70% of wounds seven days before they appear, using algorithms based on the data it collects.