The Brisbane Broncos on Using Data to Disrupt the NRL

Brisbane Broncos' Performance Specialist shared his unique insights on how the team uses their data.

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Data has infiltrated every industry and forced its way into becoming an essential part of operating for most modern-day companies.

Sports is no exception to this rule, and in the past decade alone, research and analytics have taken on increased importance around individual player performance.

Tannath Scott, the Performance Specialist for the Brisbane Broncos, has seen all this unfold over his years in both the sports science and strength and conditioning sectors of the sports world, and shared his insights on how the Broncos utilise their data at CxO Disrupt, Brisbane.

Scott said the amount of data being collected now is bigger than ever.

One of the major changes he’s noticed is how much information the clubs collect on their players, as well as how often this data is analysed and reported back.

“From a performance point of view, the data that we utilise and collect from the players has grown a huge amount over the last few years.”

Technologies such as GPS units on the back of shirts have become commonplace, with these now able to collect information that the naked eye might miss, like how much force they’re putting on one foot as opposed to the other, for example.

All that data being collected is great, but Scott revealed that it’s tough to help some of the older players and coaches to understand the true value of the data that’s recorded.

“Data’s not always at the forefront of head coaches’ minds. The younger breed of assistant coaches knows what data is collected, how we use it and they’re probably far more into it and will ask what we’re going to do with it.”

Ultimately, he said, “it’s about getting that trust that you’re not just going to pull a guy out because the data says he might break.”

Scott emphasised that data is not the be-all and end-all, though. In a point that could be applied to many different industries, he reminded the audience that the people whose data you’re analysing are just that – people – and you have to take a holistic view.

“These are athletes, but they are humans as well who have got other things going on in their lives. We can probably get too bogged down in the data and not have real conversations with the athletes.”

He reminded the audience that the people they’re collecting data on are still human beings.

He highlighted that if you’re merely collecting data for the sake of data, and you’re not going to do anything with it, then “it’s just pointless and takes up resources.”

Revealing the importance having a defined plan for your information to use data to its full potential.

“Whatever we do, there has to be a meaningful outcome to it. Whether or not the data you’re analysing garners a positive or a negative result to what you expected, there has to be an outcome there before that.”

Clearly, data is just as important to the Brisbane Broncos as it is to an organisation operating in the FSI or retail space. The data might be collected for a different reason in the sports industry, but you still have to qualify the value of it and prove the benefits back to your company.