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Exploring the New Horizons

Envisioning the Future Impact of Science and Technology on Australian Sports.

This blog explores the profound impact of technology on shaping sports participation in Australia, from grassroots to elite levels.

Australia, commonly known as the "sporting nation," boasts a rich culture deeply intertwined with various sports. Ranging from cricket to rugby, surfing to Australian Rules Football, sports hold a prominent place in the hearts and lives of Australians. However, in recent years, the landscape of sports participation has been evolving, largely influenced by advancements in technology.

As per the “The Future of Australian Sport” Report December 2022, there are six megatrends that will shape the Australian sports sector over the coming decade and beyond as shown in the

Figure 1.

Figure 1. Six megatrends in shaping the Future of Sports in Australia

From these megatrends, we will narrow down our focus to New horizons, particularly in how Science and Technology are reshaping the sports landscape in Australia.

A key horizon involves offering athletes Personalised training support using cutting-edge technologies to optimise their performance and overall well-being which includes:

Personalised Training Support:

Technological advancements, including wearable devices, computer science, and artificial intelligence, are continually offering fresh insights into sports and human performance. Today training, monitoring, and coaching methods are evolving towards greater individualisation, precision, and customisation to address each athlete's specific performance development requirements. 

Athletes today are turning to an individualised approach assisted by training apps and easier access to new technologies. For Example: Innovations in biometric measurement provide sports scientists with valuable insights into individual variations in biochemistries, muscle fiber types, microbiomes, biomechanics, and responses to training, stress, nutrition, and psychology of an athlete.  This leads to the adoption of individualised training approaches in Australian high-performance sports, considering the diverse physiological responses of athletes.

This also includes a deeper understanding of how athletes uniquely respond to training stress and their specific recovery requirements for optimal performance. Especially for athlete-specific women, the Female Performance and Health Initiative was taken to improve their knowledge and health.

Sensors and Wearables: 

Motion sensors, 3D analysis, high-speed video analysis, electromyography (EMG), force plate analysis, and scanning technologies have long been utilised to enhance the techniques and performances of elite athletes. These methods are crucial for improving biomechanical and physiological performance, particularly in activities like jumping, swimming, throwing, vaulting, walking, or running. Traditional technologies are now complemented by a new generation of wearable and embedded sensors, which can monitor bodily processes and dynamics in real time. These sensors can be integrated into sports clothing, applied directly onto the skin, or implanted in the body, expanding the range of performance monitoring methods available. 

Virtual World:

Additionally, the integration of Augmented and Virtual reality (AR/VR) applications further enhances coaching techniques by providing athletes and trainers with immersive environments to visualise and improve performance.  AR applications also revolutionise Fan engagement by offering immersive interactions with favorite teams and players. Fans can access player stats instantly by pointing their smartphones at them during a game, enhancing the viewing experience.

Use of AI in Sports AI techniques in sports utilise statistical learning, game theory, and advanced computer vision to provide deeper insights into player and team performances. For example, in Grand Slam tennis, AI is employed by players to analyse opponent weaknesses, enabling adjustments in pre-match training to focus on these areas and leading to higher match success rates. Similar AI applications are seen in football, basketball, cricket, and baseball. Moreover, data analytics and AI are now applied across various sports areas, including talent identification, organisational management, athlete management, customer inquiries, media and fan experiences, sponsorship, officiating, and sports betting.

Use of Data Analytics

Sports teams have long utilised data analytics and statistical analysis to enhance their performance, but the past two decades have witnessed a surge in their effective implementation. Increasingly advanced data analytics are now prevalent across various aspects of sports, including talent identification, athlete selection, training, game analysis, organisational management, and audience engagement. Numerous sports associations and companies, such as the US National Basketball Association (NBA), Spanish Football Federation, and German Football Association, have adopted data analytics for player selection and team training. Presently, most elite teams utilise player performance metrics alongside GPS, semi-automatic cameras, or radio-frequency systems, either individually or in combination, to monitor training and match performance. Conclusion

Technology plays a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of sports participation, from enhancing athletic performance to improving fan engagement and accessibility. As advancements in technology continue to push the boundaries of what's possible, we can expect to see even more innovative solutions emerge, further enriching the world of sports for athletes and fans alike. Whether it's through virtual reality training simulations, wearable biometric sensors, or adaptive sports equipment, technology will continue to empower individuals to push their limits and achieve new heights in sports participation.

In Australia, technology is profoundly shaping sports participation, from grassroots to elite levels. The focus is on personalized training support, enabled by advancements like wearable devices, AI, and data analytics. These technologies provide insights into individual athlete physiology and performance, leading to tailored training programs. Sensors and wearables enhance biomechanical analysis, while AR/VR applications offer immersive coaching environments and fan engagement experiences. AI is utilized for opponent analysis in various sports, and data analytics drive decision-making across talent identification, training, and fan experiences. As technology continues to advance, it promises to further enrich sports participation, empowering athletes and fans alike.

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