The Moneyball revolution completely transformed the sport of baseball, turning it from a game built on intuition and heuristics into a data-driven sport for spreadsheet gurus. The idea was simple: by analysing player data coaches and managers could spot players who are undervalued. These players might be as good as the superstars, but without the celebrity status, small teams could snap them up for cheap and make huge progress.
Slowly, this data-driven approach has been tried in other sports and today Bath Rugby has announced a new deal with a sports-science company that it says will take this same data-driven approach, but apply it not to player selections, but to the challenge of tackling player injuries.
Allan Ryan, High Performance Manager at Bath Rugby, said: "We collect a huge amount of player data, and Kitman Labs has made that data much more powerful, actionable and efficient. Time our staff used to spend trawling through numbers is now spent working with the players. Our coaches say they’ve saved about 30 minutes a day using Kitman."
Apparently each player can be tracked through a customised profile, that will enable backroom teams to gain "actionable insights" from the training data fed into the system. It could conceivably enable staff to step in before damage occurs, meaning that players won't be prevented from playing for so long.
Bath Rugby isn't the first club to sign on: Kitman has apparently already signed up all four professional Irish clubs, the Ireland national rugby team, as well as Everton football club, the LA Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays.
It'll be interesting to see how much an impact the new system makes.