Last Friday a great mini workshop was available for some of the attendees. This was sort of in project mode as it was formal enough to advertise but it’s going to need a few iterations to fully harness the power of those attending. Most presentations or clinics focus on one way learning, but this collaborative approach was something I think is going to be more popular. What was interesting was the different attendees that showed up, such as a high profile consultant who works with future hall of famers, a data architect that works with several professional teams, and a few therapists that fix other therapists mistakes. Several pro coaches in sports medicine and sports performance were there as well. Here is what I learned and what I think will be changing next year.Four years ago a few world class physiotherapists started a small private seminar, only about a dozen were invited. To appreciate the scope of this, most were flown in private jet because they were that important! The reason? The information was that important, and collectively over the years more and more information and now formulas and algorithms were being developed to help the sponsor, a software company that appreciated their experience. Fast forward today, another software company sponsored the BSMPG workshop and this was a milestone. Moneyball is often talked about, but who is really doing it? Lead by Clinton Bonner, the first 15-20 minutes seemed over everyone’s head or a disconnect was made. What was TopCoder and why where they at BSMPG?
The reason was simple. Topcoder, who’s clients range from Google and Facebook to ESPN, understands the power of open innovation, collaboration, big data, platforms, and the QS market. As I stated before, coaches are starting to understand that as many of the presenters in the following days had little hints of the direction we are going to. Art Horne mention ROI on therapy interventions, Bruce Williams talked about crowd sourcing data, Craig Liebenson talked about sensor technology to get activity, and Jose Fernandez talked about data and visualizing it. This was very hard to swallow for many who are more right brained, but like it or not teams are getting hijacked by this very rapidly. GMs are getting direct bombardments from outside consultants and this is being shoved down many coaches throats because a quantum leap has occurred over the last few years. Like it or not this is the direction, and without evidence to back up claims, we will find a musical chairs scenario with jobs at high places.
Technology is growing with coaching and therapy. Vendors such as Optosource will talk about cloud benefits, and therapists will talk about evidence based therapy, usually because of research. Where are we going with leveraging technology? Does this matter? TopCoder’s Clinton Bonner really said something only a few in the audience can appreciate, but in a few years, if not next year, teams will appreciate the vision that they have. A few years ago BSMPG didn’t really talk about gait. Last year one presenter talked about it. This year it was arguably the theme with several speakers going into the subject matter including Art Horne’s landmark presentation on interventions and improving function objectively with technology.
Big Data– Coaches are getting more and more data streams and are having major bottle necks collecting data. Currently right now our friends from Nebraska (who were the first to really put some technology in appraising performance) have developed some intriguing equipment. While I think it’s a good direction, I need to experience something like that for a year before I can give any advice. As someone who has worked with a paperless environment I should warn everyone that Technology is designed by people and is far from perfect. The movie Jurassic Park is a great example of an analogy to what we experience in real life with team sport and even olympic sport. Expect some problems. Some athletes are drinking alcohol before baseline testing for concussions, in order to allow them to get back on the field faster, even after all the dangers and suicides in he media. Big data is big problems because getting it is hard, analyzing isn’t easy, and explaining the value in cultures that don’t objective accountability is still impossible.
Collaboration or Crowd sourcing- Without collecting data, how does one make an opinion? I will likely never know what truly is working, but I will have a clue to what things may help. Unfortunately we don’t do enough sharing openly we only seem to share what we want share. If more coaches and therapists could openly share what they do in an organization as well as with other groups, we can get internal solutions much faster than waiting for research. Research is the cornerstone, but we need to put the labs and processes in place with our own facilities. My concern was the collaboration is hard to do with sensitive medical data, and this may need some creative workarounds because some injuries really mark who is having problems. Nobody want’s to be under the microscope. So many minds can work together, and round table discussion or even debates are healthy if it drives change. I hope next year they bring in opposing points of view directly, like they do with many conferences.
Algorithms- Lot’s of coaches using this now buzz word, and I too need to work on making sure I nail the true meaning here. Data doesn’t need algorithms if it’s clear, but sometimes empowering organizations with a true algorithm expert that understands the field a bit will help in year two or three. In order to quantify and express the true value of complex and multivariate data, it’s wise to get someone who really understands applied statistics. If one is at the level of an algorithm without lying to themselves, one can get rapid isight and make better decisions. We will start seeing better decision trees when this is mapped out in detail and isn’t trapped in a few big brains and done intuitively. When everyone has the information, progress via predictive analytics will change sports medicine and training. Unfortunately we a see a lot of pretenders and need to remove the curtain with the Wizards of Oz.
In Part 2 I will go over What I learned about assessing athletes and some of the discussion that the attendees had.