Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the world of sports. From training smarter athletes to engaging millions of fans, sports organizations are embracing AI to unlock new potential. But what lies ahead for brands?
In this blog, we'll explore the key impacts AI is already having in sport, examine real-world examples and ponder the future possibilities.
Enhancing Training and Preventing Injuries
AI is being applied to give athletes an edge in their training, whereby sensors and wearable devices gather biomechanical data and track physiology. Machine learning analyses this wealth of data to design optimal and personalized training programs, helping athletes avoid injury while continuously improving performance and thus results.
In training, WHOOP bands give athletes 24/7 biometric tracking, and then machine-learning will analyse this data to optimise training programmes for the individual. Moreover, athletes are using AI for biomechanical analysis, tracking elements such as stride length and frequency. These systems can also detect overexertion and prescribe needed rest, an approach that helps athletes train harder while avoiding burnout or injury.
Elevating Coaching and Gameplay Decisions
Coaches can utilise AI analytics to make better real-time decisions during gameplay. The result is higher quality training and coaching that unlocks the maximum potential in athletes. Analytics firm Second Spectrum is working with the NBA to track live game data, with their machine-learning models processing data such as player positions, passing, shots and more to generate real-time insights for coaches. This empowers coaches to adjust lineups, substitution patterns and plays based on hard data-driven recommendations. German football club Hoffenheim leverages AI visual recognition tech from Anthropic to auto-tag game footage and accelerates video analysis for sharper coaching insights, critically also eliminating the emotional decision-making element.
Revolutionising Media Broadcasts
For broadcasting networks and streaming platforms, AI-automated production tools are creating more dynamic and engaging sports coverage. Machine learning can auto-generate video highlights, and overlay informative graphics, bringing greater speed and efficiency to producing sports media coverage and can help attract a new audience.
Amazon Web Services help TV networks including FOX to auto-generate highlight packages, automating tasks that previously required extensive human editing work and increasing efficiency. Brands like Intel and Liberty Media use AI to simplify announcing and live translations. Graphics overlays powered by real-time stats and predictions also give fans more live in-game insights.
Optimising Fan Experiences and Recruitment
For fans, AI powers recommendations on what games and players to follow based on their individual interests and past behaviours. It also enables interactive experiences like chatbots that can discuss the latest sports news and stats. For instance, FC Barcelona developed an AI-powered app called Barca Innovation Hub for fans, which app acts as a virtual assistant to deliver customized news, health insights and real-time training advice tailored to the individual user.
In scouting new talent, AI allows teams to analyse huge datasets across leagues, competitions and training situations to identify athletes with the highest potential. In the UK Premier League, clubs like Chelsea and Burnley utilise platforms like aiScout run by AI.io to identify, assess and recruit new talent. Operationally, AI also offers new capabilities for simulating scenarios, predicting outcomes, optimizing decision-making, and extracting insights from data to improve management.
The Future of AI in Sports
As the technology develops, virtually every aspect of sports could be optimized by AI, from drafting predictive fantasy leagues to generating personalized workout recommendations. We may even see games contested between human and AI players. The possibilities are endless, but responsible oversight will remain key.
AI is poised to be an immensely disruptive force in the world of sports, especially when you consider the progress that has been made in under a year. From analytics to automation, it promises to revolutionize the capabilities of teams, leagues, brands and platforms. Already, AI is transforming athletes' training, coaches' decisions, media broadcasts, talent recruitment and fan experiences. However, establishing ethical frameworks will be essential as this transformational technology moves forward.
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