Sport Ireland packs winning punches with SAS

Use of Visual Analytics supports coaches with innovative training methods and tactics

Ireland’s elite boxing team based at the Sport Ireland Institute is looking to build on its Olympic success in Tokyo at the AIBA World Championships which have just got underway. To do this, it will again be using data analytics provided by SAS to drive innovative coaching techniques. The software provides coaches with deeper insight to help boxers achieve their full potential and also identifies potential flaws in opponents.

Following the success of in-competition analytics used by the Irish Swimming Team, Sport Ireland Institute introduced the technology to the boxing ring.  Both sports are challenging to track and extrapolate data, to give coaches a deeper understanding of how to adapt training methods and even deliver insight during competition. SAS Visual Analytics collects data from video feeds to facilitate analysis and performance enhancement in almost real-time.

Alan Swanton, Lead Performance Analyst at the Sport Ireland Institute has directly seen the advantage of data analytics adoption in sport. Alan said: “Success in combat sport has been largely based on the subjective views of the coach and athlete. SAS Visual Analytics helps to assess the effectiveness of an athlete’s tactical plan, which can provide coaches with an added level of confidence as they advise boxers on the best strategy to take in their next fight.”

Live data can be gathered during competitive events, allowing coaches to track techniques and positions such as punches landed and conceded, the stance held for landed punches, the type of punch and other variables. These are then used to help assess the effectiveness of the athletes’ tactical plan. The technology is also able to compare a boxer’s performance against the different styles of their opponents.

Speaking about the partnership Scott Comber, Senior Director of Consulting and Professional Services, SAS UK & Ireland, said: “Applying analytics across high-performance sport is quite literally a gamechanger, with limitless potential to help athletes and teams get more value from data and bring improvements to training and performance at every level. Visual analytics presents a fantastic opportunity to drive innovation in boxing that helps athletes and their coaches adapt training methods and inform tactics between competitive bouts. We’re delighted to work with Sport Ireland to expand the capability of performance analysis for boxing and to play a part in giving athletes every possible chance of success in elite competition.”

Zaur Antia, Head Coach of the Irish Olympic boxing team, said: “This tool gives us insight into the tactics used by upcoming opponents.  When we analyse their previous bouts we get a better understanding of how they change their tactics against different styles and types of opponents.  This information is a critical element in how we prepare effectively for upcoming bouts in competition.”

Performance analytics are ultimately created with the athlete in mind. The technology cannot replace the hard work of coaches or athletes, but boxers can rest assured that their coaches have the key insights it takes to push them towards personal success. 

Kellie Harrington, Olympic Champion at the Tokyo Olympics in the 60Kg weight category, said of her coaches: “They spend hours reviewing video and analysis in the days ahead of upcoming contests, using bout analysis created by the analyst to assist their decisions and development of the tactical plan.  This gives me confidence, knowing that coaches are prepared; then l feel fully ready to execute the game plan which they have put together for me.” 

In addition to providing top-level analysis of a boxer’s performance during competitive events, Sport Ireland Institute is also using SAS Visual Analytics to dive deeper into an athlete’s performance - valuable data that coaches use during post-match analyses and to compare Irish athletes against other world-class performers.

Find out more about Sport Ireland Institute’s use of analytics in boxing

About Sport Ireland Institute

Sport Ireland Institute is a unit of Sport Ireland with responsibility for high performance support delivery to elite athletes.

The Sport Ireland Institute was established to create an environment which influences, supports and ensures that talented Irish athletes will achieve sustained levels of excellence in elite sport. The Sport Ireland Institute coordinates a network of highly experienced, quality assured service providers to help support this high-performance environment ensuring that sports have access to the sports science and medicine supports that they need.

The Sport Ireland Institute works directly with NGBs in developing sports specific science and medical support networks so that each sport has the support it needs to impact on performance. The Sport Ireland Institute also works closely with service providers in developing systems, structures and protocols to ensure that athletes and sports receive the best support possible.

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