Artificial intelligence (AI) in sports is quickly changing the face of our favorite sporting pastimes. From unlocking the secrets of athletic success to transforming coaching tactics, preventing injury, and even allowing fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite sports stars’ performances, the $1.6 billion AI in sports industry is all the rage right now.
But how did we go from stopwatches and chalkboards to predictive algorithms and machine learning so quickly? As technology evolved and processing power boomed, programmers were hard at work developing algorithms to introduce sports into this new generation in computing. Add in new-age tech like wearables and athlete tracking systems, and AI has the potential to turn a simple piece of equipment into a multifunctional tool. One that’s capable of interpreting data in real-time and predicting performance gains and losses with incredible accuracy.
We look at how AI is reshaping our understanding of sports and allowing athletes and coaches to take advantage of this next age of information to transform the global sports industry.
Top benefits of AI in sports
The introduction of AI into the sporting arena represents a big leap forward in how we measure and understand the massive amounts of data available to us. The ability of AI to process and interpret sporting data at incredible speeds and with spectacular accuracy means that we’re finally able to dig into minute detail and use it to optimize and perfect our performances.
The benefits of AI in sports are both unmistakable and far-reaching. Besides the more obvious advantages that athletes can gain from learning more about their abilities and limitations than ever before, coaches can now make data-informed decisions about training and performances, while fans can finally be a part of the behind-the-scenes action too.
For athletes and coaches
- Advanced personalized training
AI-powered athlete tracking systems can do more than simply measure on-field performance. They’re able to keep track of everything happening off it too. Wearables and other tech can measure everything from stress loads to distances covered, while AI supplements off-season training schedules and recovery performance. This allows doctors, physios, coaches, and the athletes themselves to manage their workloads better. As a result, they’re able to develop customized training programs that optimize exercise returns and reduce the risk of or even prevent injury altogether.
- Improved team analytics
Coaches can now use AI to make data-driven, unclouded decisions about individuals, team performances, and even skill levels. AI is able to spot things most coaches would overlook while making accurate, real-time information available to them.
- Real-time and retrospective analytics – including those of competing athletes
Coaches and athletes can now track their performances in real-time, making decisions on the move without having to wait for results after the game has ended. This means strategies and plays can be tweaked live, while the opposition’s tactics can also be tracked and responded to on the move.
For fans and everyone else
- Stronger loyalties and following
When we have a better understanding of our sports stars and their careers, we tend to love them more since we feel like we’re a part of their journey. AI sports developments allow current and potential fans to gain a better view of athletic performances, trends, injury updates, and overall form, leading to a more committed following.
- Better predictability
AI’s core strength is its ability to take massive amounts of data, process it and apply algorithms to predict what’s most likely to happen next – with impressive accuracy. While AI can’t tell the future, it can tell us what the most likely outcome of a race, match or competition may be. This spices up the sports betting and fantasy league scenes, and makes for a more exciting overall experience.
These are just a few of the incredible benefits that AI offers sports, and the trend is already leading to massive gains in athlete capabilities and training returns. This inevitably leads to more success on the field and a better return on investments – for athletes, their coaches and the fans alike.
Read also: Benefits of AI in business
How is AI used in the sports market?
Okay, we’ve already covered how athletes, coaches and fans benefit from AI in sports, but what about the practical applications and uses that AI has for sports in general? AI can be put to work in several areas in sports, both directly and indirectly. But, how much can we trust AI, and how important is it to be as accurate as possible? Let’s take a look.
AI in coaching
AI is proving invaluable to professional, college and amateur coaches. It allows them to make important, strategic decisions backed by irrefutable data about their teams or individual players. AI-linked cameras, sensors and trackers also enable access to data before, during and following a game, giving coaches the power to make informed choices in the interests of their players. AI also assists in developing coaching tactics and methods based on the data collected during competition or even through the course of an entire season.
AI in sports training and performance improvement
Training is key to improving performance. The latest developments in AI in sports mean that players can take advantage of apps like HomeCourt which use computer vision and machine learning to assess skills and give accurate feedback.
This allows athletes to identify areas where they can improve, focus on them during training, and measure their progress. Simple but effective.
AI in sports analytics and results predictions
Nothing beats AI when it comes to sports analytics. Powered by advanced programming and backed by potent learning capacity, AI in sports analytics can be put to practical use in a couple of ways.
- Athlete results analysis – While keeping track of on-field action is important, understanding training results and progress can often be the key to success. There are a number of software solutions on the market that help gain an understanding of sports performance. For example, Svexa, a training platform that tracks and analyzes athlete movement, uses a deep understanding of tech and molecular profiling to produce tailor-made exercise and training recommendations. Sparta Science is another popular solution, used by the NFL’s scouting program to evaluate and identify top college players by tracking the real-life movement of each candidate.
- Predicting match results – We’ve all wondered: can AI predict sports results? Well, not yet, but it can get pretty close to doing so. The very nature of sports means that anything can happen on the day, and upsets are inevitable, but AI is already getting good at predicting those too. Whenever there are large amounts of sporting data available, ML models can often predict the result while the action is happening on-field.
Cricket’s IPL, for example, saw students using AI techniques to accurately predict the outcome of a match while it was still in progress! This model demonstrated that AI could be used by teams during a game to make changes to their performance and improve their chances of winning.
Read also: How to create a bulletproof fitness marketing strategy?
AI in sports journalism
Sports journalism is ideally suited to AI sports. With more and more teams competing each day and so many statistics and facts available, automated reporting is becoming extremely popular. Pre-defined templates and writing styles, along with advanced predictive models, mean that journalists can now cover far more sports, leagues, and matches than they used to.
- Data-driven stories
Tools like Wordsmith are now able to take hard data or metrics and use natural language generation to transform numbers, statistics and results into narratives. Sports journalism is only just beginning to take advantage of this new power, with AP already having increased its reporting capacity to cover 13 leagues and 14 MLB-affiliated teams.
- Match reporting
AI bots are now able to track ongoing matches in real-time, reporting live on key events, scores, and statistics as they happen. Followers are often surprised to learn that the reporter is really an AI-powered program, capable of reporting the ebb and flow of the game as it happens, complete with excitement and emotion.
- Faster and more affordable
Sports journalism organizations like AP’s sports division are quickly learning that an AI-powered reporter is far cheaper and more capable than human scribes. Able to track multiple events and use structured data to generate compelling content means that sports journalism backed by AI is getting faster, less biased, and more accurate than ever before.
Sports journalism AI solutions are gaining popularity in some of the biggest sports on Earth. Tennis, soccer, baseball, and basketball are already using AI to manage live reporting, and journalists are scrambling to keep up. In fact, some of the US’s leading natural language generation tech companies, Automated Insights and Narrative Science, started as attempts to generate game recaps automatically.
AI in broadcasting & streaming
As the streaming industry continues to boom, AI in broadcasting and streaming services is playing a pivotal role in understanding audiences, giving them exactly what they want, and in result boosting ratings. The same goes for sports streaming. Already, around 30% of sports fans stream live sports content on mobile devices, while highlights are becoming more interactive, accessible, and engaging – all thanks to AI.
- A better AI sports streaming experience
The live sporting experience has also become more interactive, taking audiences into the heart of the action, with on-demand replays, camera angle selection, and different commentary language options enriching the overall experience.
- Willingness to pay for it
Providers are taking advantage of peoples’ willingness to pay more for sports streaming services by offering paid-for advertising opportunities and leveraging location-specific features.
- Using existing technology
Streaming is perfectly primed for AI sports opportunities because the hardware technology is already there. The capabilities of AI sports streaming make it an effective tool for automating legacy video streaming and broadcasting platforms. Using AI in sports allows us to create advanced, scalable, robust networking solutions that function according to specific user needs.
AI in the sports industry – use cases with practical examples
While AI can be integrated into almost any sporting code, some are already using it to good effect. These sports industries are experiencing lucrative returns from their AI in sports industry investments, with the likes of basketball, football, and horse racing seeing great results.
Artificial intelligence in basketball
Basketball is a high-paced, high-impact, action sport, and it can be tough to keep up with the amount of data available. AI is already having a significant impact on how coaches and players manage their training programs, as well as influencing how game strategies develop. According to a Georgetown University and Washington Institute for Health Sciences study report in 2021, AI also has the potential to prevent sports injuries and improve the overall enjoyment of basketball games.
Despite these positive results, however, the artificial intelligence basketball realm is still poorly understood and studied outside of professional basketball team setups. This is sure to change soon, though, as the undeniable artificial intelligence basketball benefits start to show more mainstream practical applications, especially in the AI in sports industry.
So, how is AI used in basketball exactly? Let’s take a look at some examples.
Advanced AI-powered tracking devices used in the NBA
Second Spectrum – NBA tracking technology provider since 2017
Tracking players in the NBA is a tried-and-tested technique used to keep coaches and fans apprised of different athlete performances and form trends. Lately, however, AI has allowed tracking devices to do much more than simply measure distance and speed. They’re now able to understand when specific plays are underway and can examine which actions worked out and which ones didn’t.
With this information at their disposal, coaches can now use the data to eliminate bad plays altogether and to get the most out of their top players. The NBA’s tracking technology provider, Second Spectrum, believes that the possibilities of this revolution in tech can present endless opportunities.
Post-game and live game analytics
CourtVision – used by the LA Clippers to enhance broadcasting
If you’ve ever watched an LA Clippers home game, you’ll have enjoyed the experience offered by Courtvision. This artificial intelligence basketball tool uses machine learning, specialized data visualization, and augmented reality to take the broadcast to another level.
By offering a range of varied camera angles and audio commentary options, managed and run by CourtVision’s AI, fans can enjoy everything from watching the game with in-arena sound enhancements to replicating the live atmosphere in your own home, from the comfort of the sofa.
Fans can select from multiple different CourtVision modes:
- Player – taking you into the thick of the action, providing live player tracking stats.
- Coach – giving you access to play charts and info that coaches need.
- Mascot – unlocking graphics features that allow you to get the most out of the entertainment experience.
CourtVision also provides a wealth of information on probabilities and statistics, giving punters an edge over their fellow betters during the game itself by integrating ongoing post-game analysis-style stats with the selected players.
Football artificial intelligence
Football, or soccer, is the world’s biggest and most followed sport. With more than 3.5 billion global fans and over 130,000 professional players, this AI in sports industry is bigger than many others. Football artificial intelligence has been around for a while, but it is only lately that the most impressive strides have been made.
So, how is AI used in football exactly? The AI tools and techniques in football artificial intelligence are being used to power various applications to evaluate and enhance overall sports performances by leveraging some innovative strategies:
- The apps use sensors featuring biomechanical technology to capture and represent player movements as they happen
- The AI features automatically analyze the playing strategy by providing accurate real-time feedback to coaches
- This allows them to advise players when to boost performance outputs and how to apply different decision-making strategies while playing
- 3D visualizations of game information show how players play in their own style instead of simply ranking them.
This football artificial intelligence capacity means that coaches and players can go beyond just looking at shots taken or comparative player performance statistics, by developing customized strategies based on individual players’ specific strengths.
SciSports – deep learning AI solutions in football
A great example of a football artificial intelligence tool is SciSports. The organization offers AI-driven player tracking performance solutions that understand the players’ movements and decision-making trends. The company uses machine learning capabilities and advanced analytics to provide intelligence data to professional football teams and lower-level ones too. This information can be used for scouting purposes, team strategies, and player analysis on an ongoing basis.
With a capacity to track over half a million players around the world, SciSports represents the perfect example of how football artificial intelligence can be used for more than just performance tracking and monitoring. Its results can be expanded to supplement talent acquisition, assist in recruiting and ensure responsible investing.
AI in horse racing
Horse racing has always been synonymous with big spending, science, and pure entertainment. So it’s no wonder AI technology is already finding its way into the horse racing industry. While experienced followers have spent years developing a sense of which horse to bet on, new or more casual punters often find it tough to bet right.
But as AI gets smarter and more capable of predicting the outcome of events, tech startups and companies have been using horse racing data collected over decades. They’re working to develop advanced machine learning-powered capabilities able to predict the outcomes of races with surprising regularity.
Advanced analysis to predict winners
Programs such as Beth Bet have been using AI to develop advanced algorithms to predict the outcome of horse races for some time. By using a varied range of available data, Beth Bet is able to understand which horses are likely to do well and which ones aren’t. Algorithms break down pedigree, form, weather, and even the makeup of the turf, among other factors, to determine which horses will come out on top.
Neural networking to narrow the field
The data engineers at Vermont-based tech startup AI Certain Inc. have taken an innovative approach to their AI sports solutions by using groundbreaking AI technology. Using their deep learning neural network system, they applied predictive algorithm-based programming to narrow the field down from 20 horses to just two potential winners. They were then able to correctly predict the Kentucky Derby’s winner by choosing the odds-on candidate who held a 1% lead over the next best horse. Who said you can’t make your own luck?
AI in sports – summary
AI in sports is growing faster than ever before. With wearables and athlete tracking systems now the order of the day and machine learning on the rise, AI development services are taking center stage in the tech and information technology world.
The enormous potential for AI extends far beyond the benefits it holds for athletes and their coaches, with fans, sports management agencies, professional recruiters, and AI sports representatives all taking advantage of the surging popularity of this revolutionary advancement in data processing.
As artificial intelligence in fitness grows and evolves alongside AI in sports, the industry is set for remarkable expansion, both for professional athletic entities and the general public alike. As the world gets smarter and more connected, AI in sports is paving the way for the likes of artificial intelligence basketball gains and football artificial intelligence advances quicker than we can keep up.
So if you’re thinking about joining the AI in sports revolution, now is a good time to invest. You won’t be disappointed.
Watch interviews with AI and Machine Learning experts. Learn how artificial intelligence can support your business and how to implement AI-powered solutions successfully.