Thursday 19 May 2022 03:25 PM How a Silicon Valley algorithm could change the world of sports forever trends now

Thursday 19 May 2022 03:25 PM How a Silicon Valley algorithm could change the world of sports forever trends now
Thursday 19 May 2022 03:25 PM How a Silicon Valley algorithm could change the world of sports forever trends now

Thursday 19 May 2022 03:25 PM How a Silicon Valley algorithm could change the world of sports forever trends now

Popularised in the Brad Pitt film Moneyball, groundbreaking analytics almost saw the Oakland A's crowned the kings of baseball back in 2002.

General manager Billy Beane's evidence-based, sabermetric approach allowed the small-market franchise to compete against teams with much bigger budgets by finding undervalued players through revolutionary statistical analysis.

The concept sparked the adoption of more data-driven principles across a myriad of sports – with teams and coaches all trying to gain a competitive advantage – but the latest innovation may be the biggest game-changer of the lot.

Invented by artificial intelligence company Zone7, the new Silicon Valley algorithm is being used by teams in the NBA, NFL and Premier League as a way to detect injury risk and recommend pre-emptive action.

One of those clubs, Liverpool FC, has deployed it to great success this season in their hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, cutting the number of days players have lost to injury to 1,008 from more than 1,500 in 2020/21.

More impressive still is the days lost to 'substantial injuries' – those lasting more than nine days – as this has almost halved from 1,409 to 841.

Cutting edge: AI company Zone7 has an algorithm being used by teams in the NBA, NFL and Premier League as a way to detect injury risk and recommend pre-emptive action

Cutting edge: AI company Zone7 has an algorithm being used by teams in the NBA, NFL and Premier League as a way to detect injury risk and recommend pre-emptive action

One of those clubs, Liverpool, have deployed it to great success this season in their hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, cutting the number of days players have lost to injury to 1,008 from more than 1,500 in 2020/21

One of those clubs, Liverpool, have deployed it to great success this season in their hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, cutting the number of days players have lost to injury to 1,008 from more than 1,500 in 2020/21

More than 50 sports clubs across the world now use Zone7's AI programme, although many wish to remain anonymous in an effort to protect any competitive advantage that the tool may provide. This graphic shows the injury detection rates of the AI tool in Italian football's Serie A, Portugal's Primeira Liga, Spain's La Liga and Major League Soccer in the US, as well as English football's Championship and the Scottish Professional Football League

More than 50 sports clubs across the world now use Zone7's AI programme, although many wish to remain anonymous in an effort to protect any competitive advantage that the tool may provide. This graphic shows the injury detection rates of the AI tool in Italian football's Serie A, Portugal's Primeira Liga, Spain's La Liga and Major League Soccer in the US, as well as English football's Championship and the Scottish Professional Football League

HOW DOES THE AI TOOL PREDICT WHEN INJURIES MAY OCCUR?

There is a lot of secrecy about Zone7's artificial intelligence algorithm, with many of the sports teams using the Silicon Valley company not wishing to make it public.

The firm's system uses thousands of parameters from wearable devices including GPS vests, plus in-game sprint statistics, sleep metrics and biomarkers to forecast injury risk.

Zone7 claims it can accurately detect 70 per cent of injuries seven days before they happen using algorithms based on the data it collects.

Teams send their training and match data to Zone7 for analysis.

They then receive daily emails from the AI company with information about players who may be straying close to the so-called 'danger zone'.

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More than 50 sports clubs across the world now use Zone7's AI programme, although many wish to remain anonymous in an effort to protect any competitive advantage that the tool may provide.

Zone7 said it had teamed up with Major League Baseball teams to model pitchers' workload and kinematic profiles to preemptively detect injury risk patterns. 

The California-based company also uses machine learning modelling to analyse the relationships between workload and recovery in NBA players, as well as creating processes for American football teams around injury risk and performance trade-offs.

It has partnered with three unnamed NFL teams, as well as a trio of Pro14 and English Premiership rugby clubs.

Outside of sports, Zone7 has also applied its human performance technology to support hospital staff working under intense conditions brought on by the Covid pandemic and rising patient populations. 

In the football world its experts have been working with Spanish side Getafe 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 per cent reduction in the number of muscle injuries sustained and, in the 2018-19 season, had the lowest number of injuries resulting in missed matches of the 20 La Liga clubs. 

Zone7's system uses thousands of parameters from wearable devices including GPS vests, plus in-game sprint statistics, sleep metrics and biomarkers to forecast injury risk. 

The company claims it can accurately detect 70 per cent of injuries seven days before they happen using algorithms based on the data it collects. 

Zone7 collects data from wearable devices including GPS vests, as well as biomarkers and screening, which is then plugged into its algorithm. It then emails teams about players' injury risk and what can be done to preempt this

Zone7 collects data from wearable devices including GPS vests, as well as biomarkers and screening, which is then plugged into its algorithm. It then emails teams about players' injury risk and what can be done to preempt this 

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