The football season can be a long and arduous one. With a minimum of 34 games played by each side, that’s without even the prospect of a further 4 if they’re fortunate enough make the playoffs, it can really take its toll on the players. The loss of a player can completely destroy a teams entire strategy for that season. With that in mind, Houston Dynamo has linked up with Kitman Labs, the leading sports injury and performance analytics company, to aid the team in its approach, training, and treatment of players for the season. This weekend I was fortunate enough to interview founder and CEO of Kitman Labs, Stephen Smith, to talk about the announcement between the two organizations.
Long gone are the days when players would be able to eat what they liked, train as the wished and party into the early hours after game day. They’re now athletes, finely honed performers, their entire life revolving around the beautiful game. The pressure on managers to deliver is overwhelming. The financial aspect of the game is huge and the loss of their job is an implication of not winning trophies or having a poor season. A manager will spend pre-season working tirelessly on tactics and have a strategy that requires the right combination of players that is critical to their efforts for the entire campaign. A loss to one of his first-team regulars will throw that into turmoil. The need to keep these players fresh and match fit is a necessity.
Ever since Play-off chasing Houston Dynamo, linked up with Kitman Labs just before the start of the 2017 season, the club has unbelievably seen 63 percent fewer injuries and also an incredible 75 percent fewer days lost to injury. This is also combined with 88 percent reduction in the most common and costly type of injury, strains, and sprains. The data collected goes into a Profiler for each player. They can even download a fully customisable app, this enables them to quickly provide individualized wellness and psychological data to the coaching staff. All this information allows a manager to stick to his strategy with the best squad possible at his disposal for the entire season.
Stephen Smith, CEO, and founder of Kitman Labs took time out of his busy schedule to speak to us exclusively and explain how it works,
“We collect data from the clubs on individual players such as GPS, Biometric and injury data. It’s then ingested into our system to build a profile. From this, we can identify the severity of injuries or potential injuries. If a player has had a particular injury before, we see a pattern develop, if we see that same pattern developing again we can advise them to change their approach to training and preparation to a game, which in turn will help to prevent that injury from occurring”
It has been a meteoric rise for Kitman Labs in their 5-year history. But it’s easy to see why. The game now goes further than the tactics of a manager and the skill or ability of any individuals. There is a science behind it and the game is exploding with data. Before, this data was almost wasted. But now, Kitman Labs have the technology to interpret all this data into decisions. The Dynamo now join a family of over 75 teams from 5 continents in nearly 30 leagues who are using Kitman Labs. When asked whether they’d be working with more teams from the MLS, Stephen Smith told us,
“Yes absolutely! We started working with the Sounders and have done some work with LA Galaxy. The Dynamo contacted us just before the start of this season for us to work with them. The stats and numbers don’t lie, teams can see the difference we make and we’re in talks with other MLS sides to work alongside them in the near future.”