GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring were two of the first technologies to go mainstream in elite sports. Since then, a whole host of new systems have sprung up that promise to monitor internal and external load, track practice and game stats, evaluate wellbeing, and more. As the number and sophistication of options has grown, so too has the scope of the challenge for teams looking to gain a competitive edge through data analysis. To help you and your fellow human performance professionals make sense of this fast-changing landscape, we’ve expanded our educational tools with a deck of Human Performance Optimization (HPO) Battle Cards for sports.  


Why Create Battle Cards?

Since 2003, Smartabase has helped elite sporting organizations get the most from their technology investments and supported HPO initiatives by bringing every athlete data stream together in a single, versatile platform so it can be analyzed, visualized, and interpreted. We’ve witnessed the growth of the sports tech industry firsthand and helped professional teams, Olympic committees, national governing bodies, colleges, and academies create automated workflows that turn information and data into knowledge and wisdom that improves performance, health, and wellness outcomes.

To make these insights actionable, we looked for a simple way to represent how the world’s leading sports organizations tackle complicated problems with the help of HP analytics. This is where Battle Cards – a tool used effectively in sales and marketing – came into play. They’ve allowed us to distill complicated, multifaceted approaches into a series of defined, repeatable, and easy to follow steps. These cards show how people, processes, and technology come together.  


Supporting Athlete-Centric Decision-Making

From availability and readiness to team practice planning to individual athlete development and beyond, data analytics can enhance, expedite, and optimize every element of human performance, with the focus firmly on the athletes you serve. To fulfill this potential and make accurate, data-informed decisions, you need a logical, step-by-step approach that replaces complexity with simplicity. That’s why we designed each card with four stages that your team will go through as you outline, execute, and evaluate every HPO use case. These are:

HPO Battle Cards

Data required focuses on the sources that will be used to gather all the information needed to better inform your solution to an HPO problem.

Insights uncovered put data into context by collating and visualizing it in customizable dashboards to compare current and historical information and alert staff when athlete performance or health moves out of predefined ranges.

Actions to take come into play when insights are used to inform changes and interventions that positively impact athletes’ training, recovery, and overall wellbeing.

Outcomes to expect are how you define if an HPO project is successful or not and determine which factors you’re impacting. These could be objective targets and performance KPIs or more subjective results like improved mental health.


Outlining HPO Use Cases for Relevant Roles

The bigger a sports organization is, the more moving parts it has and the harder it is to get everyone on the same page around human performance initiatives. That’s why it’s vital to put consistent athlete data capture, management, and reporting in place that delivers the right insights to the right people at the right time. With the HPO Battle Cards, we looked at common data-related challenges from the perspective of four key roles and outlined use cases that are typical across our global base of elite sports clients.

One of the main challenges presented by managing athlete data with separate systems is that it reinforces a siloed approach that keeps information and people apart. A comprehensive HPO platform like Smartabase unites disparate data sources to break down silo walls and bring practitioners, coaches, athletes, and front office staff together around a single source of truth. The HPO Battle Cards can help enhance this collaboration by showing how data analytics informs each stage, system, and stakeholder involved in human performance programs.   

Here’s the full list of use cases broken down by role on the cards:


  • Engage & Educate Athletes
  • Remote Training
  • Athlete Communications
  • Lifecycle Management


Performance & Medical Staff

  • Increase Availability
  • Optimize Performance
  • Increase & Extend Impact
  • Demonstrate ROI


Coaching Staff

  • Talent Identification
  • Athlete Development
  • Team Strategy Optimization


Front Office

  • Build Winning Team


How to Utilize and Enhance the HPO Battle Cards

To get started with the HPO Battle Cards, you can flip to the use cases that match your role. From there, you might be interested in those that relate to a current process or one that your organization is intending to implement. Another benefit is the template we included on several cards at the end of the deck. This enables you to apply our framework to any use case we missed, advance your strategic planning for future initiatives, or map out a logical approach to adopting a new technology.   

Here’s how to use the HPO Battle Card template:

  1. Define the main problem you’re trying to solve or opportunity you’re trying to exploit. This is the title/subtitle of your card.
  2. Specify the data you need to collect.
  3. Identify the analysis to complete or the insights to uncover.
  4. Determine the actions you’d take or decisions that would be informed based on the data.
  5. Define the outcomes you expect to realize. These should clearly tie back to any key metrics you or your group are measured against.


If you get stuck, or as a way to validate your logic, it can be helpful to start with #1 (the problem), then skip to #5 (the outcomes), and work back to #2 (the data).

We welcome your help in improving the Battle Cards so that the performance community can continue getting maximum value from them. If you’d like to share comments, feedback, or your own use cases, please contact us at

To download your free copy of the HPO Battle Cards for sports, visit You’ll also find the deck we created specifically for the military here.

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