Fee Beyer on Sport Technology Use in the Bundesliga

Fusion Sport Business Partner in Germany and highly regarded Sports Technology Consultant Fee Beyer was interviewed recently by Football Business Inside. Fusion Sport received permission to reprint the interview here.

Interview by Thomas Maurer

For the second time after 2017 Fee Beyer did a study about the usage of sportstech in the German Bundesliga. In this INSIDER Interview she talks about the findings.

Thomas: Recently you have published your second Sportstech Bundesliga study “The German Bundesliga in the 21st century: A look at working methods and technologies in the coaching staffs”. An update and extension of the first study from 2017. Can you briefly explain what exactly you have highlighted?

Fee: In this year’s edition we wanted to take a look at all technologies – not only in the field of athletics, but in the entire coaching staff: Athletics, rehabilitation, medicine, physiotherapy, match analysis and scouting. I think we have created an unprecedented insight into the working methods of the German Soccer League. Through the transparency that we are creating, we want to contribute to better knowledge transfer in the industry and make technology knowledge accessable.

With this research, we show that technologies are becoming an increasingly indispensable part of the daily work in all areas of the coaching staff. Technologies create data evidence and, as an additional source of objective data, help to make better decisions and improve work flows.

“Money tends to be spent on Transfers and less on Technology”– Fee Beyer

What is the conclusion of the new study?

Technologies are here to stay and will further shape the way we work and make decisions. Technologies contribute to sporting success.  At the same time the potential of existing offers is still too little used. Thus, teams that embrace technology secure competitive advantages now and in the future. But it’s also crucial for teams to ask the right questions like what KPI’s matter to us and make structured decisions on how, when and why technologies are being purchased and used.

What are the differences to the last study from 2017?

The main difference lies in the extension of the research by the areas of match analysis and scouting. Comparing the results of the 2017 research with those of the 2020 research, we notice on the one hand that similar problems still exist, but on the other hand that further developments are taking place. One example is the growing number of data analysts employed by clubs. Athlete Management Systems (AMS) are now also being used throughout the clubs. And, of course, what is new this year are questions and measures around Covid-19.

What is the situation regarding data protection and the rights to use player data? Are there any current developments around this topic?

This is undoubtedly a very important issue. Teams make sure that the data they collect from athletes are protected. It is also noticeable that the privacy of the athletes is respected and accordingly topics such as sleep monitoring are implemented only very cautiously and hesitantly.

You conducted most of the surveys during the “Corona period”. What impact does Covid-19 have on the topic of sports technology in football?

Covid-19 is a completely new phenomenon that we have all been confronted with. Especially the lack of planning is a big challenge. However, solutions had to be created quickly to ensure hygiene measures, regular testing and thus the monitoring of potential infections.

Click here for information on COVID-19 screening and illness surveillance in Smartabase.

How important are technologies in football today and how big are the differences between the clubs?

As mentioned earlier, technologies are playing an increasingly important role in everyday training today and in the future. What is exciting about the results is that the spectrum with regard to the use of technologies in the league is wide. This means that on the one hand we see clubs that already use a lot of technologies, but on the other hand we also have clubs that are very reluctant and hesitant to use technologies and have actually very few technologies in use. Of course, this is also related to overall club budget. Nevertheless, money tends to be spent on transfers and less on technology.

What role does the training of cognitive skills play at the moment and has this changed compared to 2017?

Cognitive training or “above-the-neck-training” is one of the most exciting areas for me. Compared to physical training there is still a lot of unused potential for performance optimization. We see a similarly broad spectrum in the league in terms of the use of technologies here. In addition, I also expect many further developments from technology manufacturers. I think that “above-the-neck-training” is still in its infancy.

What are the biggest challenges that clubs are currently trying to solve through technology?

Athlete monitoring as a major area has still a lot of unsolved problems, like harmonizing data from different sources or finding the right data set to gain insights that really matter. Also, many clubs start to experiment with artificial intelligence or even start to develop own algorithms.

And vice versa, where do you think the greatest potential for technology in football lies?

I believe that we will find new ways to decode the game itself further. We will also be able to train our athletes more individually and intelligently with the help of technology. Players will be able to use technology to extend their careers and intelligent systems will help reduce injuries. This also requires a mind-shift and a conscious approach to technology in team culture.

Fee Beyer is a Sports Technology and Smartabase Consultant based in Germany. For more information on Smartabase and how we can assist with your performance data and reporting needs please contact us here.

For further information or to get in touch with Fee Beyer directly you can visit her website here.

For further information on Football Business Inside click here.

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