Singapore Sports Institute is a statutory board of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). The board has a single mission: to inspire and transform Singapore through innovative, fun and meaningful sporting experiences. With its Vision 2030 master plan, SSI hopes to create greater sporting opportunities for Singaporeans and support the development of professional capabilities and standards in coaching.
Learning from professional and amateur sporting organisations across the globe to identify and sharpen details in training regimes using data, the government established the Singapore Sports Institute in 2009, a group that supports the development of Team Singapore athletes as well as the country's sports medicine and sports science industry.
Performing at the very top level in athletics boils down to the minute details in the preparation and planning stages. As such, to predict favourable outcomes for the games, SSI collects high performance sports data from the national athletes.
Benoit Ammann, Deputy Director of SSI, explains: “Analysing sports data is both an art and a science. The science is in analysing the data collected, and the art is in the application of this data to each athlete’s training plans.”
However, before a business intelligence solution was implemented, data analysis at SSI was far from standard protocol.
Different stakeholders like coaches, sports scientists, physiologists, and nutritionists kept their own records of individual athletes, and would manually key and analyse data on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. This resulted in a high degree of variation and inaccuracies, as each party had different ways of gathering, interpreting and using data.
“The data is not really very powerful unless you share it,” says Mr Ammann. He explains that, despite adopting the correct approach and direction to support the athletes, these stakeholders often overlook the correlation between their individual decisions and the desired overall outcome.
“If you change something in an athlete’s diet, for example, how does that impact their psychology, their sleeping patterns, or their peak performance?” Mr Ammann describes that changes in any of these variables, along with data inconsistencies, can make it challenging to effect quick and informed decisions on athletes' training plans.
Performance data from SSI is critical in SSI’s selection of the athletes who represent the nation at major sport events, such as the Olympics. Prior to establishing such a system, the process of selecting athletes for Team Singapore was time-consuming and prone to errors. It was based on manual calculations of multiple variables, without necessarily giving more weight to certain variables that have a statistically significant impact on peak performance.