Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football

The use of Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football is one of the many is one of the applications that has been developing this last years to take advantage of this powerful tool.

Firstly, and in order to clarify in an easy way what it is about, we can summarize it saying that Big Data are all this data that have been recollected which because of their size and their complexity are difficult to process in a traditional way. Its importance is not its size rather is the treatment made with this information.

How is the data treated and related to search for indicators

The combinations of big data with a powerful and advanced analysis are what will allow us to take useful conclusions and, here, is where the biostatistics figure is born and empowered. A Sport and Statistics Science professional will be the one using Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football.

The United States and Australia have been betting for a long time for this kind of professionals, as the inversion, specially from clubs and elite academies, looks highly profitable.

Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football

The Australian magazine Injury Prevention published a study (Casals y Finch, 2017) in which they already mentioned the utility of recollecting all this data, “from performance measures, fatigue, accelerations, deaccelerations, distances travelled, clinical measures and epidemiological ones, among others”.

Big Data tools to prevent injuries

In Spain, LaLiga counts with a platform that recollects and analyses in real time all this data which collects through intensive monitoring to athletes during matches and trainings to know their physical performance.

In some cases, this data is collected thanks to a GPS which the football player puts in his own body but, in other cases, laser cameras are used to track this monitoring in an individual way 25 times per second.

To access this data, a software called Mediacoach Live has been developed, for tablets and Mediacoach Mobile for smartphones. This apps allow coaches and their assistants in the technic staff, access in real time to the numbers each player is making.

One of their utilities is to configurate some determinate alerts as when the footballer runs a certain distance or makes sprints x times. Like this, the coach knows what performance is making and anticipate the risks.

How Big Data is used to prevent injuries

The use of Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football has supposed a discipline breakthrough, keeping in mind that preventing an injury one hundred per cent is impossible.

Considering the limitations, it can be anticipated, understanding that an overload is near of a muscular problem if the correct measures are not used. For example, a player that accumulates too many minutes, between match and trainings, can reach a tiredness level which leads him to an injury, something that will affect the team put especially the player.

Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football

Avoiding overload is, in the end, an absolute priority to guaranty both performance and active life of the player. In the case of the younger ones, is even more important teaching them in terms of prevention as it can suppose an irreversible damage. So, the prevention and anticipation in this case are crucial.

This is where the new tools come, as thanks to them, physical trainers can analyse the data and take the opportune decisions in every case.

Ricardo Resta, head of the Sportive Area and Mediacoach, explains it like this: “It is not about the capacity of preventing injuries, as this would be completely impossible, is about detecting the ranges of overload from which a player enters the risky area. Because, after, there are players that get injured without overpassing this ranges and others that don’t get injured even if they overpass them. Stress and competitive tension generated by the match have also a big impact although it can’t be measured. We talk about identifying the risk as a preventive measure.”

The continuous recording of football player’s movements has also allowed a deep study of how to combine the articulations, which means, how the kinetic chain works, which supposes an inestimable support in injuries diagnosis. Seeing the exact moment in which the injury has been made and from different angles, the injury can be recreated, and all this will facilitate the study, both for its treatment and recovery as well as to improve future prevention.

Tracking, injuries and breaks to football players

As we have seen above, tracking is the monitorization of each player trough a device, so we can know in real time what is their performance. The data observation the device conveys will allow the technical staff and even the player himself, know his trajectory during the game and his physical status tendency.

The idea of using Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football finds a great ally as, like this, breaks can be programmed, dosing its presence in the matches.

Big Data to prevent injuries and diseases in football

Catapult is a European company that studies and elaborates reports about athlete’s performances. Some of their conclusions, extracted from the obtained data, are quite concrete. We can find some as the Premier League football players multiply by four their probability of getting a hamstring injury between December and January, in comparison with the rest of the season or also that between those months almost 90% of the teams will have an injured player, an alarming number and if we compare it with the 15%, which is what it is managed the rest of the season.

Contemplating this information, it is not weird that clubs and players are getting more and more familiarized with the advantages this new technologies offer them, as we can already see in Qatar 2022, in which for the first time in a World Cup, the players can see their data and their performance just right after the match. And it is that there is a lot at stake: health, prestige and money


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