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Applying analytics to reduce rugby injuries

The Leicester Tigers, a professional rugby team in the United Kingdom, is applying predictive analytics technology from IBM to reduce player injuries.

The team will examine such factors as fatigue and threshold and game intensity levels to determine hidden patterns or anomalies, so coaches and trainers can gain more insight to prevent injuries. For example, analytics data might reveal that a player has an 80 percent likelihood of becoming injured if he has a significant change in one or more of his fatigue parameters and if the intensity level of training is likely to be high. With that information, the team could deploy strategies to reduce fatigue or change that player’s training.

Andrew Shelton, head of sports science for the Leicester Tigers, says, “Our team has always been proud of challenging at the top of national and European rugby competitions, but it gets more competitive every year, and our focus must be on helping our players stay injury free for longer. There is a tremendous value to be gained by retaining experienced players within the squad, and we are confident that by adopting IBM predictive analytics, our team will be able to leverage data about the physical condition of players for the first time and considerably enhance our performance.”

IBM says its predictive analytics also enables the Leicester Tigers to analyze psychological player data to reveal other key factors that might affect performance. For instance, away games might cause higher stress levels than home games, and social or environmental stress could significantly change the way players perform during a match, or predispose a player to injury.

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