Analysis of the responses of coaches on the questionnaire on the use of IT solutions in professional sports
July 2, 2020
ezhankevich

We conducted a survey of professional sports coaches. The topic of the survey was the applicability of modern technology in professional sports. The survey was conducted to determine how actively coaches use IT solutions and identify those aspects of the training process that, from the coaches` viewpoint, require advanced monitoring and management using software tools. Questions were sent to coaches on LinkedIn. When sending out profiles, preference was not given to any sport or to any country. The survey involved more than 100 professional sports coaches.

I. The answers to the questions were received from coaches in the following 16 sports: alpine skiing, basketball, cricket, curling, cycling, field hockey, handball, rowing, rugby, soccer, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball and water polo.

The most active participants in the survey were basketball, rowing, rugby, swimming, and volleyball coaches.

II. The questionnaire was attended by coaches from the following 27 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Zambia.

The most active were the coaches from Ireland, Canada, Great Britain, Serbia, and the United States of America.

III. Most of those who have filled out the questionnaire holds the position of head coach. Also, assistant coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, trainers, development coaches, performance coaches, equipment managers, and biomechanics have also answered the questionnaire.

IV. The majority of coaches measure the athlete’s performance, including 50% carrying out these measurements manually and 35% doing it automatically using sensors, and excluding 15% of coaches who do not measure the athlete’s performance at all.

V. In modern professional sports, sensors are used for various purposes. With their help, 34% of coaches collect the physiological data of the athlete (calories burned, heart rate, galvanic skin reaction, etc.), 35%, as noted above, evaluate the athlete’s performance (speed, distance traveled, posture, impact, hit, movement and location), 16% use sensors to predict injuries and when recovering from injuries, and 15% of coaches do not use sensors in their practice.

VI. Coaches have demonstrated different attitudes toward the process of handling performance assessments. 45% regularly evaluate the results and store them digitally with statistics, 28% regularly evaluate the results and store them digitally without statistics, and 27% of the coaches regularly evaluate, but do not store the results.

VII. 45% of coaches follow sensor publications in the sports industry and 55% do not.

VIII. As many as 48% of coaches carry out biomechanical analysis, including 27% using custom-developed solutions and 21% using market offered solutions, and excluding 52% of coaches who do not use software solutions for the analysis of biomechanics.

The following market offered solutions for biomechanics` analysis are named in the coaches` responses:

IX. Aspects influencing the training process and mentioned by coaches as subjects to monitoring and evaluation are distributed according to their frequency of mention or the degree of importance.

X. The methods used by coaches to prevent injuries are distributed according to the frequency of their appearance in the answers and/or application in practice

XI. According to the coaches, the following issues can be solved using IT solutions (no priority considered).

XII. In the final paragraph of the questionnaire, trainers expressed their attitude to the use of information technology in professional sports in general and in certain sports in particular.

While evaluating the IT solutions currently used in professional sports, the coaches expressed the following wishes and comments:

  1. to increase the athlete’s fitness, new high-quality technologies and equipment are needed that can help evaluate the effectiveness of this training process;
  2. the proposed methods should be simpler, because the freelap timing system, algebra, and the Brauer synchronization system are too complex to use;
  3. wearable sensor technologies already exist, but no one has mastered the solution for receiving real-time data. It is necessary to develop live video analysis;
  4. the market should have systems of different levels of value, so that they can be used not only by large corporations, but not by small organizations such as local clubs;
  5. IT is a good tool, but it is only part of the process. Relying only on them should not be. The final decision is up to the coach.

To aspects of professional sports that require a special attitude from technology companies, the coaches attributed:

  1. athlete’s health, his proper nutrition (the necessary level of protein in food) and sufficient rest;
  2. monitoring results and preventing injuries;
  3. recovery after exercise so that to plan peak forms for competition, as well as analysis of sleep, psychological state and well-being;
  4. IT technologies are most often used in high performance sports. It is very important to develop the use of modern technologies at the earlier stages of preparing an athlete for professional activity;
  5. in sports for the disabled, equipment and skills should be adapted to a specific disability. Development of solutions for biochemical analysis is required.

Some coached expressed wishes regarding specific sports. The following are some of these statements.

Conclusions and Comments

The use of modern IT technologies is relevant for all sports.

The survey involved coaches in 16 sports. All coaches confirmed the relevance of IT technology.

The use of modern IT technologies in sports is relevant for coaches in all countries.

The survey involved coaches from 27 countries. The demand for IT technology in professional sports hasn`t shown any territorial dependency.

IT solutions are applicable to almost every aspect of the training process.

The survey involved representatives of the coaching team who are responsible for quite all aspects of the training process.

In the curricula of sports departments of the universities dealing with the training of professional coaches, a corresponding course on the implementation of modern technologies in the training process should be introduced or improved.

About a little more than a third of coaches use sensors to record the athlete`s performance. Most coaches (65%) do not use sensors or simply do not measure the athlete`s performance at all.

Minority of coaches (45%) follow sensor publications in the sports industry and 55% of them ignore it.

IT service providers can rely on the relevance of modern methods in the training process and actively develop interaction with professional sports.

The survey results have shown that a significant number of coaches (15%) currently do not use modern technology in the training process. But they will be forced to turn to IT service providers as soon as they realize that some of their functionality can be effectively assigned to the appropriate soft and hardware. The growth of competitors’ results is another factor pushing these coaches towards digital techniques.

At the same time, the vast majority of coaches (85%) understand the importance of applying modern technologies to the training process, use sensors and are most probable ready to introduce more advanced IT solutions in their practice.

Techniques for data gathering, processing and storing should be simple enough so that as many coaches as possible can use them.

Less than half of the coaches (45%) regularly evaluate the athlete`s performance and store data digitally with statistics.

About half of coaches (slightly less) who have participated in the survey use any solutions to analyze biomechanics. About the same number of coaches (a little more) do not use software solutions for these purposes.

The number of potential users of software solutions for the analysis of biomechanics will constantly grow as per the increase of competition and as a result of deeper understanding of the effectiveness of programming solutions.

In the near future, the implementation of IT methods with sensors to assess and increase the athlete’s stress resistance should receive active growth.

The guidance of an experienced professional coach allows almost all top athletes to train and take part in competitions on the limit of the human body’s capabilities. Among other aspects different from fatigue that determine the success of an athlete and that should be monitored and evaluated, coaches especially highlighted the psychological condition or stress resistance (23%).

Injury prevention is a topic of close attention for all coaches.

All actions intended to prevent injuries can be divided into two groups depending on how it is close to the moment at which injury can occur.

The first group is the actions closest in time to the period during which the athlete is exposed to physical activity and the threat of injury. These are warming up and stretching, managing the load depending on the athlete’s condition and proprioception.

The second group is the preventive measures indicated by the coaches when indicating injury prevention including but not limited to control of physiotherapist, recommendations of S&C coach, specific exercises to prevent injuries, etc.

IT can help coaches analyze the causes of injuries and prepare activities to reduce them.

The use of modern technologies contributes to the growth of sports achievements and as well as to the protection of athletes from professional risks associated with physical and psychological stress.

There is a need to process data arising in various aspects of the training in professional sports. Indicated propositions are only a part of the real needs for technological support that exist among practicing coaches.

The coaches have expressed their full support for the increasingly active service of professional sports by information technologies and pointed out those parts of the training that require improvement in the first turn.

In its content, this final part or the questionnaire is close to the previous one, as it contains recommendations regarding the automation of those aspects that may most effectively contribute to the improvement of the training in professional sports.

Afterword

The results of the survey of coaches confirm our confidence that IT solutions are the means that shall be used to monitor and control the athlete`s performance, protect them from physical and psychological overload, and thereby make professional sports more attractive for young people.

Our company has significant experience in resolving various issues in professional sports through the use of modern IT solutions, including working out a remote training, that is very relevant in the current circumstances.

We are ready to consider any problems of the training process, apply the most modern methods of data gathering, processing, and storing via sensors in any sport. Coaches, sports clubs, training centers, and all interested in expanding the capabilities of professional sports coaches by a data-driven approach are invited.

We will be glad to have your comments, suggestions and wishes in connection with the above survey sent to ggaiko@stone-las.com and/or info@stone-labs.by.