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The Role of Performance Analysis in Sport - Dr Susan Giblin

"There has been an interesting trend in the sports industry over the past decade. An upsurge in technology has led to data being collected and analysed pervasive, starting with sabermetrics in Baseball and the draft combines in NFL assessment - analysis is now becoming the focus of identifying and selecting top performers in sport. 

The GAA is no exception, the introduction of data analysis in the form of video performance analysis and GPS monitoring in training and competition has changed the orientation of spectator discussion and coach review. Unfortunately however, the introduction of technology and data analysis has not lead to any tangible changes in either performance enhancement or injury reduction. Largely this is due to the technology leading the sports scientists and not vice versa.  

Sports support professionals have been at the mercy of the technology trend with pressure being put on to use the latest and greatest sports kit, often regardless of the relevance to performance enhancement or injury prevention.  The real value in performance enhancement or injury prevention will come when this trend can be reversed, with sports scientists, psychologists, coaches, rehabilitation specialists (i.e. the domain experts) informing the data analysts and sports tech industry what matters and what should be measured.  

In July 2018, we secured validation from London Metropolitan University to award a BSc at level 8 that is designed to develop the next generation of sports scientists. This degree was developed in response to the evolving demands of the sport science and technology industry. Sports technology is a rapidly growing market with many of the top international sports technology companies having their headquarters in Ireland. There is a real demand for skilled graduates to meet the demands of this growing sector in Ireland. Our programme  provides a very applied focus on developing the skills and experience working with and implementing interventions based on biomechanical analysis, performance analysis and GPS data analysis. 

I believe practical skills are an essential part of becoming a competent applied practitioner. To continue to promote practitioner competency development within our students, we have invested in our sports facility. with BlkBox Fitness working with us to construct our new sports facilities. BlkBox Fitness are renowned for their gym facility construction and equipment provision. BlkBox Fitness have kitted out many of Ireland’s top facilities, including the gym at Santry Sports Surgery, Dublin GAA, as well as facilities throughout the UK (e.g. Everton Football Club). Throughout 2018 our students have continued to collaborate on research projects with DCU MedEx programme, researching the use of exercise intervention and prescription for cancer survivors. In addition, our degree programme students avail of the Human Performance Lab facilities to complete their physiology lab work components. This collaboration has provided students access to a state of the art human performance physiology lab and experience in completing laboratory based testing and reporting procedures for VO2 max testing, phlebotomy and cardiorespiratory testing that forms an important part of both clinical exercise physiology for working with elite level sports performers. 

I have extensive experience working in this field and I conducted the industry consultations with the leading sports technology companies during the development process of this degree. The feedback was unanimous - sports scientists with a comprehensive understanding of all areas of performance analysis and can practically implement that knowledge - they will be highly sought after and immediately employable.

The content of this degree is at the cutting edge of sports science. It is aimed to develop the sports scientist for today and tomorrow who can take advantage of technology to enhance elite performance. In my opinion, it is the practical skills our students acquire together with the specific focus on performance analysis that sets them apart from other sports science graduates" 

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