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🎤🏀⚽ Formsense: Top Coaches/Trainers Survey Results on Tech Used During COVID-19 crisis

🎤🏀⚽ Formsense: Top Coaches/Trainers Survey Results on Tech Used During COVID-19 crisis

Do you know what your athletes are doing right now?

How professional sports teams are affected in their ability to support training regimes for their athletes in the face of COVID-19.

by @Adam Riggs-Zeigen, Director of Product, Formsense

It was apparent in early March, that the COVID-19 virus was going to hit the world of professional sports hard and quick. The first narratives around the on-going NBA season quickly dissolved into suspended games and stories of infected athletes. What has effectively become the “Great Pause” became a crisis for professional team owners, team managers, and their trainers.

WHAT WE DECIDED TO DO

As a company building products to help athletes maximize performance and reduce injury, we sought to understand specifically how COVID-19 was affecting the health and fitness professionals that work with top-tier athletes.

By acting quickly in mid-March to send out a broad survey to dozens of staff at sports teams around the world, we managed to gather insights into just how their livelihoods were being affected.

Specifically, the survey’s focus was to understand the impact of COVID-19 on staff’s ability to monitor and interact with their athletes in the face of quarantining and social distancing. Respondents represented over 20 different sports, from top teams & organizations, including the NBA, Major League Soccer, Division 1 NCAA teams, Serie A Italian Football, Olympic Sports federations, the Italian Tennis Federation and the English Premier League. Of note, The Upside helped gather responses from coaches (e.g. Italian Tennis Federation, Olympics Sports Federations..) and trainers as part of this survey. This is a follow up to our recent article gathering testimonials from Top coaches/trainers/Startups on what to do during COVID-19 crisis.

Teams were not prepared for the disruption to athlete training

WHAT BECAME IMMEDIATELY CLEAR

While the monetary losses of a paused season have certainly been an issue, for the support staff at these organizations, it became clear that the most valuable assets of high-level teams — the athletes themselves — are at risk.

Generally speaking, teams were not prepared for the disruption to athlete training and the support needed to oversee hundreds of professional athletes forced into “shelter-in” situations. Many athletes were left without access to a professional-level training facility and certainly without in-person oversight of a team trainer.

PRIMARY CONCERNS OF ELITE SPORTS STAFF

Across 19 different questions, we measured the impact to support staff looking at everything from concerns they had to tools they were using to stay in contact with their athletes.  Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the ability of staff to interact with their athletes.

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As shown in the graph above, over 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they have less awareness of what their athletes are doing on a day-to-day basis.

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In addition, as shown in the graph below, the biggest worries for staff are their ability to ensure their athletes stay in the proper shape (87%) and their ability to treat their athletes’ existing conditions (81%).

Also, as shown in the table below, the primary motivation for coaches and trainers to monitor their athletes remotely while play & practice are suspended is to ensure that athletes maintain their level of fitness, according to 49% of the trainers that participated in this study. 23% of them also said that ensuring that their athletes were complying with stated protocols were their main motivation there.

COMMUNICATION TRENDS

To help mitigate these concerns, staff are getting creative in terms of how they interact. Over 86% are utilizing text messages to stay in touch with their athletes, nearly 70% are doing some form of video chatting and only 2% aren’t doing anything.

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As shown in the table above, while over 1/3 are using some form of wearable device with their athletes today, there are few products that are delivering secure, remote monitoring of exercise protocols and success metrics. When asked about what kind of data & solutions staff would like to be able to use, the most commonly requested were Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurement, GPS tracking, Rehabilitation/Rehab tools, and Movement/Motion analysis tools.

Additionally, sports staff are clearly asking for some form of video recording of their athletes so they can assess their movement and fitness. Without the established systems that elite sports staff are used to having on-site, this area presents a clear opportunity for innovation.

HOW TEAMS RESPONDED

So far, organizations have provided varying levels of guidance to staff.

Some have been specific, instructing staff to use “home workouts + fitness programs via email with contact through WhatsApp”, while others have been vague, with guidelines like “Stay in contact with athletes remotely” or “Continue as best as possible”.

What was particularly surprising though was that, as shown in the table below, over 53% of respondents shared that they did not receive any guidance on how to remain in contact with their athletes. This highlights a clear opportunity for organizations to step up and provide staff with clear, specific guidance on how to handle this situation.

MORE REMOTE MONITORING METHODS NEEDED

One of the most meaningful data points to come out of the survey was how open staff, and likely athletes, are to using remote tools. While it was no surprise that training staff would be open to additional tools, what did surprise us is how dramatic that reported interest was!

As shown in the graph below, nearly 70% of respondents stated they are now more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past and over 60% of respondents felt that athletes are more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past.

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Even when the impact of COVID-19 lessens, staff overwhelmingly agree (82%) that remote measurement will still be important.

Now, more than ever, elite sports staff need tools to better keep track of their athletes and ensure they stay healthy, fit and connected.

As shown in the table below, 58% of the coaches who participated in this survey belong to pro teams, vs 21% from college sports teams.

As shown in the table below, 58% of the coaches who participated in this survey belong to a soccer/football team, vs 13% worked for a basketball team.

CONCLUSION

Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the ability of staff to interact with their athletes. Over 90% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they have less awareness of what their athletes are doing on a day-to-day basis.

The biggest worries for staff are their ability to ensure their athletes stay in the proper shape (87%) and their ability to treat their athletes existing conditions (81%)

Organizations have been slow to provide guidance to staff with over 53% of respondents sharing they did not receive any guidance on how to remain in contact with their athletes

There is more acceptance of remote monitoring:

•69% of respondents are more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past

•62% of respondents feel athletes are more open to remote monitoring tools than in the past

Even when the impact of COVID-19 has lessened, staff overwhelmingly feel (82%) that remote measurement will still be important

This research was conducted by formsense, a San Diego-based startup making smart apparel that delivers real-time, remotely monitored biomechanical insights. Today, we’re focused on our mission to maximize performance, accelerate recovery, and reduce injuries for professional sports teams and their athletes. Tomorrow, formsense technology will be available to the millions whose daily lives are affected by problems with their form — with applications in physical therapy, at-home fitness, and amateur sports.

Visit us at formsense.com to request a demo of our technology.

🎤 ⚽ 🏀 Upside: Athletic Trainers 2020 Sports Tech Budget Survey Results & Impact from COVID-19 Crisis

🎤 ⚽ 🏀 Upside: Athletic Trainers 2020 Sports Tech Budget Survey Results & Impact from COVID-19 Crisis

How much of an impact has the COVID-19 crisis had on sports teams’ 2020 sports tech budget? When do sports teams plan to invest again in sports tech?

These are the types of questions that we asked to 31 sports teams, as part of our new Upside survey. In this article we summarized the key results of our survey.

Picture: Sports Tech Advisors, The Upside, 2020

It was apparent that in the past few weeks because of the COVID-19 crisis many sports teams, many of the teams and leagues that we work with, have been impacted financially. One of the most critical areas is sports technology.

As a result of the COVID-19 many sports teams had to revise their 2020 sports tech budget and plan to invest in technologies (GPS, wearables, HR monitor..) in 2020 and beyond.

WHAT WE DECIDED TO DO

In a quick turnaround, over the past 2 weeks we sent out a survey to athletic staff members of a large number of sports teams around the world.

The goal was to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the sports teams’ 2020 sports tech budget, which areas of sports were financially impacted, when they were now planning to invest in sports technologies, and in which types of emerging sports technologies they were planning to invest.

Respondents represented 31 different sports, from pro teams & organizations, including the MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, Division 1 NCAA teams, European soccer teams and leagues (English Premier League), South American soccer leagues (Brazilian First division..), as well as healthcare organizations. Of note, we would like to thank all the teams and coaches that participated in this survey. We also like to acknowledge Innovate AT for its contribution to this survey as a tech partner. We would also like to personally thank Daniel Hayes (LA Dodgers), Skylar Richards (Orlando City FC/MLS), Derek Lawrance (SJ Earthquakes/MLS), Brian Lee (LA Children’s hospital), Leonard Zaichkowsky, and Manoel Coutinho (Botafogo FR) for their help making this survey a success. This is a follow up to our recent article gathering testimonials from Top coaches/trainers/Startups on what to do during COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 impacted Teams’ 2020 Sports tech budget

97% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS AGREED THAT COVID-19 IMPACTED THEIR 2020 SPORTS TECH BUDGET

Over the past few weeks, many sports teams cut salaries of players and staff members sometimes by up to 50% in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 on their top line and bottom line.

With that in mind, it was not a surprise to see that 97% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the COVID-19 crisis impacted their 2020 sports tech budget. Only 3% of the respondents said that the COVID-19 crisis had no impact on their 2020 sports tech budget.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

So the next question became: To what extend was your 2020 sports tech budget impacted?

37% OF COACHES’ 2020 SPORTS TECH BUDGET GOT CUT BY 20-50%.

As shown in the graph below, 37% of the athletic trainers surveyed reported a 20-50% cut on their 2020 sports tech budget. In addition, 13% of athletic trainers indicated a 50-70% budget cut, 20% of them reported a 10%-20% cut, and 27% of the them reported a 70% budget cut. With that in mind it is fair to say that for most teams their 2020 sports tech budget got impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

COVID-19 impact on Teams’ 2020 Sports tech budget By Technology

GPS SYSTEMS AND HR MONITORING SYSTEMS GOT MOST IMPACTED BY COVID-19 CRISIS

Budgets allocated towards GPS and HR monitors were the most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, as shown in the chart below, 56% of athletic trainers indicated that their budget allocated towards GPS systems got impacted while 48% reported that budget for HR monitors got impacted by the crisis. This makes sense as GPS and HR monitors are among the most popular types of technologies currently used by sports teams.

Other types of technologies that got impacted by COVID-19 were video analysis systems (36%), sleep trackers (32%), neurotech & mental health devices (32%), temperature screening & sensing solutions (20%), connected fitness equipments and solutions (16%), hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions (12%), and esport equipments and solutions (4%).

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

86% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS PLAN TO INVEST AGAIN IN NEW SPORTS TECHNOLOGIES IN 1Q21

As shown in the graph below, given the low visibility on the future outlook, it was not surprising to see that 86% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that they planned to invest in new sports technologies not until 1Q21. That being said, on the bright side, 10% of the athletic trainers said that they planned to invest in new tech in 4Q20. 3% of the even indicated that they planned to buy new technologies as early as 3Q20.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

Teams’ 2020 Sports tech Plan to Invest in New Technologies

48% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS PLAN TO INVEST IN SLEEP TRACKERS VS 44% IN GPS VS 44% IN NEUROTECH & MENTAL HEALTH

As shown in the graph below, 48% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that they plan to invest in sleep trackers in the future. GPS systems remained a top priority moving forward with 44% of the athletic trainers planning to invest in GPS systems while 44% of them planned to invest in neurotech & mental health devices. This does not come as a surprise as being on quarantine likely affected some players mentally and trainers want to make sure that they can address any mental issues moving forward. 32% of them also planned to invest in HR monitors and video analysis systems. 32% of the athletic trainers also planned to invest in temperature sensing & screening solutions. This makes sense as many sports leagues plan to do temperature screening of players before each games when the competition resumes.

Hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions also gathered a lot of interest with 24% of the respondents indicating their plan to buy hydration/electrolyte monitoring solutions. Lastly, 16% of athletic trainers also indicated their plan to invest in connected fitness (Peloton, Tonal..) in the future.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

57% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS’ SPORTS TECH BUDGET WAS <$50K VS 27% IN THE $50K-$100K RANGE

Over the years, through the Sports Tech Advisors and Upside we have worked with many sports tech startups whose most common question is: “What is the sports teams’ sports tech budget? How much do they plan to spend in a given year?

Typically sports tech budgets vary depending on the sports league and teams that coaches, trainers and athletic trainers work for. Generally speaking, pro teams (NBA, NFL NHL, EPL..) tend to have bigger sports tech budget than college teams (NCAA).

As shown in the graph below, 57% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that their 2020 sports tech budget was less than $50K. However, 27% of the athletic trainers reported that their 2020 sports tech budget was within the $50K-$100K range. And 17% of them reported a 2020 sports tech budget above $200K.

This is critical for tech vendors to know as typically a GPS system like Catapult will cost teams about $40K per year. So if a team plan to invest in a GPS system as well as a sleep tracking system and only has $50K in budget to invest in new sports technologies, it quickly become problematic especially in the challenging macro environment we are currently living in.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

77% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS SURVEYED WORKED FOR NORTH AMERICAN TEAMS

As shown in the table below, 77% of the athletic trainers who participated in this survey worked for teams and organizations in North America, vs 13% in South America, vs 6% in Europe and 3% in Asia.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

61% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS SURVEYED WORKED FOR PROFESSIONAL TEAMS

As shown in the table below, 61% of the athletic trainers who were part of this survey worked for professional teams, vs 19% for college sports teams. 8% of respondents also worked or healthcare companies while 8% of them worked for private practices and 3% of them worked for sports leagues.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

33% OF ATHLETIC TRAINERS SURVEYED WORKED FOR SOCCER TEAMS

As shown in the table below, 33% of the athletic trainers who participated in this survey worked for soccer teams, vs 18% for baseball teams, vs 11% for American Football teams and 9% for basketball teams.

Source: Upside 2020 Top Coaches Sports Tech Budget Survey Results, April 2020.

BOTTOM LINE

Not surprisingly the COVID-19 crisis has impacted most sports teams, leagues and healthcare organizations. 97% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the COVID-19 crisis impacted their 2020 sports tech budget.

Here are the other key takeaways:

  • Teams experienced budget cut anywhere from 20-50% all the way up to 70%: 37% of the athletic trainers surveyed reported a 20-50% cut on their 2020 sports tech budget. In addition, 13% of athletic trainers indicated a 50-70% budget cut and 27% of the them reported a 70% budget cut. Lastly 20% of them reported a 10%-20% budget cut.
  • Budgets allocated towards GPS and HR monitors were so most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis: 56% of athletic trainers indicated that their budget allocated towards GPS systems got impacted while 48% reported that budget towards HR monitors got impacted by the crisis.
  • 86% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that they plan to invest in new sports technologies not until 1Q21. That being said, on the bright side, 10% of the athletic trainers reported their plan to invest in new tech in 4Q20.3% of the even indicated that they planned to invest in new technologies as early as 3Q20.
  • 48% of the athletic trainers we surveyed indicated that they plan to invest in sleep trackers in the future. GPS systems also remained a top priority moving forward with 44% of the athletic trainers planning to invest in GPS systems while 44% of them planned to invest in neurotech & mental health devices.
  • 57% of athletic trainers’ 2020 sports tech budget was <$50K Vs 27% in the $50k-$100k range: Of note, only 17% of them indicated that their budget was above the $200K.

On the bright side it is worth pointing out that some of the teams who participated in our survey indicated that their 2020 sports tech budget was not impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In our opinion, coaches have handled the COVID-19 crisis very well and adapted their training technics to make sure that their players remain in shape physically and mentally. This is where sports technologies (wearables, fitness equipments, neurotech, sleep tech..) remain vital to keep track of players’ health (physically and mentally), prevent any potential health issues and enable players to be in control of their own health. At the end of the day, the future of the sports tech industry is bright and we are coming across new innovative technologies every day. So there is a lot to look forward to.

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