Will Your Odds of Winning Improve With Better Performance Data Analysis?

Will Your Odds of Winning Improve With Better Performance Data Analysis?

In what continually amazes us, people who work in the world of sports routinely question the true value of data analysis. They know that it can help pinpoint specific facts, help show change over time, or give coaches a better understanding of who is on their team. But, despite knowing that it can help provide detailed answers to their questions, they’re still faced with doubt about whether or not better data analysis leads to a better chance at winning. In other words: does data analysis lead to victory or does it do nothing to forestall defeat?

We look at this question as the result of viewing data analysis as a black box. It’s not the result of bad experiences with data analysis, or seeing some fundamental flaw in how data analysis is done, but instead as a result of doubt stemming from misunderstanding why data analysis is so important and what its connection to victory really is.

We believe that data analysis shouldn’t be hard to understand. In fact, we think that everyone in an organisation should be able to intuitively understand the results of data analysis. Not just the analysts and coaches, but the athletes, trainers, management, and everyone from top-to-bottom should be able to understand what data analysis is, why it matters, and why there’s such an emphasis placed on it.

To have this broad understanding of data analysis you need to start with answering a few basic questions. Why does monitoring stats matter? What does winning really mean? Only after answering some basic questions are we able to bridge the gap between data analysis and complete victory.

Only after answering some basic questions are we able to bridge the gap between data analysis and complete victory. Click To Tweet

Why Monitoring Stats Matters

Let’s start with a basic understanding of why monitoring data in real-time matters. We won’t go into the details on why data should be collected — everyone should understand that knowing the heart rate of an athlete as they train is important — but instead about why monitoring and analysing stats matters.

You’ll Train Efficiently

No one is perfect at training, which is a shame since perfect practice is key to winning. If you don’t know how to improve your training, you’re going to stagnate as an athlete. But, to see the areas for improvement, you need to be able to look at the numbers of what’s happening. You need to be able to look at the data and immediately answer questions like whether or not someone’s heart rate is too high, if you need to increase or decrease the cardio portion of their training,

Monitoring data during training is incredibly important and not just because it “might come in handy one day.” It’s useful because training is when you can make adjustments that will have long-term consequences. If you only monitor data during an event, championship, or game, then you’ll be limited with how much you can change. If, on the other hand, you notice that the long-term endurance of your athletes is subpar, you can adjust months ahead of time and fix things before they become big problems.

You’ll See Reality in Black and White

Another reason monitoring stats is so important is because it lets you see the world for what it is, not what you wish it was. If you’ve become invested in a new training regimen and expect it to yield an exact set of results you’re going to want to be able to see whether or not those results are coming to fruition. Unfortunately, many people become so invested in their new ideas and strategies that they interpret any results to be success.

You can’t do that when you’re closely monitoring your stats. Data answers questions in a way that’s hard to argue with. In fact, even if you think that the data is being skewed or misinterpreted (as does happen from time to time with junior data analysts), any arguing will need to continue to be data-based. Once you start to live in a data-driven world, there’s no way to escape it.

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Next Steps Will Become Clear

The last big reason for monitoring stats is because your next steps will become clear. Having a clear picture of what’s happening in your sports organisation makes it easier to see what needs to change and what’s working (or not working). This takes a lot off of your plate, since deciding on next steps and defining new strategies is one of the most time-consuming parts of managing a sports organisation, regardless of its size, sport, or maturity.

Now, this isn’t to say that data analysis will just spit out a strategy for your after monitoring your athletes for a few weeks. No, it will never be 100% crystal clear what the next steps are, but the more transparent you can make your roadmap the better. Think of it this way: you can decide your strategy based on a murky picture of what’s really happening, or you can decide your strategy and next steps based on a crystal-clear picture of what your athletes, trainers, and organisation as a whole is working on. Which would you prefer?

Will You Win More?

Now, we have a clear idea of why monitoring stats matters. But we still have to address the key question that drives every sports organisation: will you win more? Even with the clearest picture of how your team is performing means nothing if that information can’t then, in turn, be used to increase your odds of winning.

What Defines Winning?

To know if you’ll win more, you need to start with the basic question of what winning really is. Now, you may think this is some philosophical question, but it really does matter. In an organisation of 50 people, you’re going to have 50 different opinions of what winning really is. Is it winning the next world championship? Is it having the top-performing athlete? Or, is it having the most well-rounded team? Or is it having a team that is agile enough to respond to any changes that come up?

The definition we’ve settled on is that winning is long-term success, sustained over time.

Let’s break that down. By long-term, we mean that it’s not just immediate returns. In fact, you may see immediate dips as you experiment but over months and years, you see the same good results. In the same vein, by sustained, we mean that when things in your organisation change, as new challenges appear, as the team shifts, athletes come and go, and new technologies are invented, your success continues.

Winning As An Organisation

Beyond long-term success, sustained over time, we believe that winning is an organisational activity, not an individual thing. To really win, you need to not only come in first, but you need each part of your organisation to come in first. If you have the best athletes but terrible trainers, you won’t really win in the long-run. Or, if you have amazing coaches but terrible analysis into how you’re performing, you won’t see victory often. A world class organisation moves as one, wins as one, and loses as one.

This ties back to the idea that the weakest piece in any group is what sets the level of strength. The old saying that a convoy is only as fast as its slowest ship or that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link amply describe this philosophy.

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How Does Data Analysis Improve Odds of Winning?

At the end of the day, does data analysis improve your odds of winning? We say yes, not just because we’ve seen it happen (testimonial or two) but because we know why it happens. There are two key reasons we’ve identified.

Reason #1: Know Which Athletes to Play

With data analysis, you know which athletes to play and which to bench. It’s not a gut decision, it’s a data-driven decision. With data analysis, you don’t need to make these decisions based on a loose feeling, but instead, can make these decisions with confidence and remove any controversy around them. This has a clear correlation with winning.

Reason #2: Identify Peak Performance

With data analysis, you know what peak performance looks like. This may seem small, but in fact, it’s an invaluable asset. It means you can identify when things aren’t going well and know when to shake things up. In situations from training to in-game, knowing this can be a complete game changer.



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