Predicting Pro Players

Normally I write about what I know.  Today I’m writing about what I wonder.

In case you haven’t already noticed from previous posts, I’m really passionate about sport.  Born and raised in Melbourne, the home of Australian Sport, it really isn’t a surprise.  Which is why I’m so interested in how analytics is being used to transform the world of sport.

In previous posts I’ve talked about how analytics is helping the Leicester Tigers better predict and prevent injury in players, and how social media is determining a whole new dimension of “winner” in the Grand Slam Tennis tournaments.

But I wonder, can analytics help us to identify junior and amateur players that have the greatest potential to turn pro?

In Australia, over 60% of children participate in some form of organised sport through local clubs and organisations. Every weekend they don their swimmers and pick up their rackets (hopefully not at the same time) and run, kick, jump, swim their way to a healthier lifestyle.

It’s this group of sport enthusiasts that interest me.

The same way that organisations such as Medway Youth Trust use predictive analytics to identify children “at risk“, can sporting organisations use predictive analytics to identify children that show similar characteristics and behaviours that were demonstrated by professional athletes in their youth, and use those hidden patterns and trends to identify children “with greatest potential” to turn pro?

What are the leading indicators of someone who has the physical, mental and emotional skills to excel at the elite sporting level?  Does height determine sporting success?  Does competitive spirit indicate the dedication required to succeed as a professional athlete?

Unfortunately I have more questions than answers, but if we could find a way to harness the value of information captured about our future sporting stars, identify those most likely to succeed as professional athletes, target them with specific sporting grants and campaigns, we’d have our next generation of Olympic Athletes and Grand Slam winners.  The technology exists today, it’s just a matter of using it to ensure Australia dominates the world of sport.

I wonder…