How Big Data Can Help Prevent Sports Injuries

Injuries can be predicted. It seems like something out of science fiction, but the reality is not something straight out of Hollywood like a sports version of Minority Report.

Instead, it is happening now and is all due to Big Data and the Internet of Things.

A few years ago, the New York Yankees baseball team had lost a number of their pitchers to injuries during the season. Could it have been simple coincidence? They had a new athletic trainer so it became obvious that he was the weak link.

If that had happened now, those injuries would not have happened as the trainers would have seen it coming ahead of time. With the wealth of data teams now have while training and even during the game, they can spot the signs of problems before they happen.

In this article, I will go over some of the ways this data can be used to help prevent injuries and illnesses among athletes.

All about wearables

There are RFID devices that can be worn during training and even during games. They can be placed on helmets to measure speed and distance. Or on the clothing to look more deeply at certain metrics.

Athlete performance analysis software combined with these wearables can spot things like an athlete favoring one side or another, or how much pressure is exerted when performing a function.

This can paint a picture that experts can use to clearly see signs that an injury will occur soon. If a player is leaning to one side consistently, then they may fear that knees will be getting too much pressure. This pressure can end up causing an injury requiring joint replacement.

Create training plans

Data is only as good as what it is used for. It can’t tell you what to do, it only tells you enough to make good decisions after.

One decision that is important to make based on the data is how to schedule certain workouts and routines. Fatigue is one of the biggest factors in injuries so when the data shows that it is setting in, then coaches know it’s time for a break.


One of the most dramatic ways that this software can be used is to help with the spate of concussions over the last few years in the NFL.

When a wearable attached to a helmet can measure the transfer of energy to a player’s head, then it is clear when the line has been crossed into concussion territory. If a trainer sees a certain number, then they know that the player needs evaluation.

Even a seemingly innocuous hit can reveal a much higher transfer than could be guessed at. A player might shake it off and nobody is the wiser. Yet, when a wearable is used then everybody can see that is was more than an ordinary hit to the helmet.

There is no smoking gun yet for concussions and AI and Big Data can’t tell the whole story. Armed with the right data, however and these injuries can be minimized.