Leicester Tigers Rugby Team Deploys Predictive Analytics from IBM to Reduce Injury Number and Severity

London, United Kingdom - 27 Apr 2012: (NYSE:IBM) - Analytics is becoming a critical asset for professional sports teams, as sports increasingly becomes a technical and scientific business. Like any commercial organization, Leicester Tigers, the nine times champion of English rugby union’s Premiership and two times European champion, is faced with challenges around growing and retaining talent, measuring performance, optimizing tactics and detecting risk.

Tackling Rugby Injuries with Analytics Infographic

Tigers v Ulster

The Leicester Tigers rugby players prepare for a scrum during one of their games.

The rugby team today announced that it is using IBM predictive analytics software to assess the likelihood of injury to players and then use this insight to deliver personalized training programs for players at risk. The ultimate aim for Leicester Tigers is to apply analytics in order to keep the team injury free for longer, because in the modern game, losing key players can negatively impact the team's performance and potentially spectator attendance. 

Unlike spreadsheet-based statistical solutions, IBM predictive analytics is designed to enable Leicester Tigers to broaden and deepen the analysis of both objective and subjective raw data, such as fatigue and game intensity levels. Hence, Leicester Tigers can rapidly analyze such physical and biological information for all 45 rugby players in its squad in order to detect and predict patterns or anomalies.  

Using IBM predictive analytics, Leicester Tigers aims to get more insight into which data is important to predict injuries on an individual basis and when an individual is likely to reach that threshold so appropriate action can be taken. For example, if a player has a statistically significant change in one or more of his fatigue parameters and the current intensity of training is likely to be high, the analytics software may show that this player is likely to become injured in the near future. Thus, Leicester Tigers would implement strategies to reduce fatigue or alter his training accordingly. 

“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,” said Andrew Shelton, Head of Sports Science for Leicester Tigers. “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 predictive analytics also allows Leicester Tigers to analyze psychological player data, to reveal other key factors which may affect performance. For instance, away games could 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. Leicester Tigers believes that investing in adequate training programs, tailored according to players’ physical and psychological stress, will be more cost effective and display a better duty of care to team members.  

“Sport is no longer just a game, it’s becoming more and more a scientific undertaking which is driven by data and numbers,” said Jeremy Shaw, Director, IBM Business Analytics for Media and Entertainment, United Kingdom. “Gone are the days of relying on raw talent and gut instinct alone to succeed. We are delighted that Leicester Tigers has chosen IBM to help protect the health of its players and improve the team’s performance to stay ahead of the competition.” 

Nurturing talent will always be an important aspect of team success, and as such, Leicester Tigers is using IBM predictive analytics solutions at the very early stages of each player’s career to ensure it has the best selection of rugby talent. The software will be applied across Leicester Tigers’ under-19 Academy players to create a more refined selection process and to ensure a higher percentage of young talent is brought into the first team.  

Predictive analytics has become an integral part of the sports world. The project between the Leicester Tigers and IBM is part of a growing trend among all types of organizations to uncover hidden patterns in data in order to predict or prevent outcomes for competitive advantage. Advances in analytics now offer powerful insight and enhanced decision making to organizations across various industries, from healthcare and energy conservation to retailing and public safety. 

IBM has established the world’s deepest portfolio of analytics solutions, business and industry expertise. This includes almost 9,000 dedicated business analytics and optimization consultants and 400 researchers. IBM secures hundreds of patents a year in analytics, and continues to expand its ecosystem, which consists of more than 27,000 IBM business partners. It has also created eight global analytics solution centers in Berlin, Beijing, Dallas, London, New York, Tokyo, Washington and Zurich.  

For more information about Leicester Tigers, please visit: www.leicestertigers.com

For more information about IBM and Analytics, please visit: www.ibm.com/analytics or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/ibmbusinessanalytics/videos.  

To read more about the Leicester Tigers and IBM analytics project, visit the IBM Smarter Planet blog http://asmarterplanet.com/?p=16881.

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