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Expert View: 'I Don’t Think All Teams Are All In On Analytics'

We sat down with Eric Renaghan, Strength and Conditioning Coach at St. Louis Blues

27Jul

As sports analytics exploded, teams and sporting bodies were keen to apply it to every area of their businesses. From athlete training to merchandise stocking, there is nowhere that intelligent use of numbers can't have a major impact in sports management. As it has developed, though, two key areas have emerged as departments in which analytics can have the most pronounced effect: talent identification and injury avoidance. 

Where scouting for young talent was once more of an art form than a science, clubs are now increasingly relying on data to inform their talent identification. An athlete's progression can be carefully mapped, and slowly but surely the process of identifying what makes a promising soccer player, for example, is being demystified. In the physio room, data is being used to predict when an athlete may be at risk of injury - based on historical records, training routines, the player's biometrics, etc - which then allows medical teams to take action before any injury occurs. This is invaluable to teams, with athlete injury a leading cause of performance downturn in almost all team sports. 

Eric Renaghan is Strength and Conditioning Coach at St. Louis Blues. Eric’s exposure to different methods of training around the world solidified his decision to pursue a passion for coaching athletes. Driven to find more ways to improve the performance of athletes, he studied and then incorporated the many facets of recovery into his coaching technique. With the knowledge that recovery and regeneration are key to improving an athletes' performance both during and after competition, he has developed his skills in Trigger Point and Active Release Techniques. 

What, in your view, have been the key developments in sports analytics in the past few years?

The key development, in my opinion, has been the ease in which technology can be implemented daily by a performance coach or athletic therapist during training without the need for a sports scientist.

What do you think are the key areas in which sports analytics can help sports teams and organizations?

I think the area where technology and analytics can help sports teams the most is in the area of Injury reconditioning and talent identification.

Have we now hit the point where all top-level sports teams and organizations are all in on analytics? If not, how can we achieve greater buy-in?

I don’t think all teams are all in on analytics, I think there is a need for continued education particularly for decision makers. I do believe there is a desire to use analytics but sport and team culture are still a very big barrier for its acceptance and ultimate adoption.

Other than buy-in and engagement, what are the key challenges for sports analytics professionals going forward?

The biggest challenge going forward is to determine whether or not analytics and new technologies will make my job more efficient and ultimately a better experience for the athletes that I coach.

What can audiences expect from your presentation at the summit?

They can expect a very detailed storyline on how we have gotten to where we are with the use of performance technology and what lies ahead for where we would like to continue to go with analytics and technology.

You can hear more from Eric, along with other leading sports analytics practitioners, at the Sports Analytics Innovation Summit in San Francisco on July 24 & 25. To see the full schedule, click here.

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