Big Data - Really?

I saw this last year and liked it a lot so I figured it was probably a good idea to share it with you!

It seems that at the moment you can't work in sport without being hit over the head by 'big data'. It's currently very much 'on trend' with anyone plying their trade in performance sport. It would seem that if you're an S&C coach and you don't have a post graduate certificate in excel spreadsheets and the ability to calculate and track SMVL for every exercise you programme then you may as well pack up your bags and go home!

The truth is that there are lots of numbers are being crunched and there are a lot of people that have a ton of data but no idea what to do with it! There are a bunch of people that will tell you they can predict the future based on the numbers they have crunched, but they've stopped talking to athletes and forgotten that they are coaches! Their time could arguably be better spent staring intently at their belly buttons to see how much fluff has collected there (it's possibly a more productive use of time!).

Now, I'm not a philistine, I understand that what we do as coaches has to be backed by science and 'big data' can go a long way to informing our coaching practice. We need to be able to work with data, I get it! My word of caution is this, don't get so caught up chasing the Holy Grail in data collection and predictive data analytics that you actually forget to do the job that you are paid for, COACHING!

Sport has come a long way from purely subjective evaluations of performances and that is a good thing but if we are not careful we could enter a period of massive overreaction where decisions are based purely on "computer says no!"

Clearly the best coaches and performance experts sit in the middle and draw on experience and expertise to interpret the objective data whilst still coaching!

Elizabeth O'Brien, sports marketing manager for IBM, said "Data is data until you put it in context and unlock it for people."