What to look for in an Athlete Management System AMS

by Fusion Sport
 | 9th March, 2020

The recent shutdown due to COVID-19 has brought the concept of remote athlete monitoring to the forefront of sport and highlighted the need for performance and medical staff to:

•Access information remotely
•Share information easily
•Communicate more efficiently with athletes
•Centralize programs into an online environment


All of this can be achieved through the use of a centralized Athlete Management System (AMS). The below blog and checklists are designed to help you understand what an AMS is and review what you should be looking for to ensure you invest in the right platform.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN ATHLETE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (AMS)

First, let’s define it – what is an athlete management system?

Ultimately an AMS is a communication tool for your organization. It is a central platform for the collection and analysis of athlete monitoring and performance data. The aim of an AMS is to assist coaches and support teams to manage and enhance athlete performance and health.

An AMS should enable you to visualize all your data in one place and provide actionable information on player availability, performance and health to assist you in making more informed decisions.

What does an athlete management system do?

All athlete management systems are typically going to cover off these areas:

•Automatically collect data from your different technologies, centralizing information into one system.
•Enable you to combine different data points for analysis and visualize results in dashboard reports.
•The ability to use templated workflows for data analysis or choose to build your own so you can adjust the way you are analyzing and visualizing your data at any time.
•Enable you to create, email and print reports for coaches or front office staff.
•Manage different teams and sports (or regiments if you’re in the tactical space) under the one account.
•Enable you to collect information FROM your athletes as well as deliver information TO your athletes. This could be via an app, online portal, texts or alerts – or preferably, all of the above.


If an AMS does not allow you to do the above – that’s a good place to start cutting down your list right there!

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD YOU BE ASKING?

1. CAN I CONNECT TO ALL MY TECHNOLOGIES?

All AMS systems should allow you to collect data from various tools and technologies. What you are looking for, however, is a real connection like an API connector which will connect to technologies and automatically pull the data from them into your AMS.

This is critical, as one of the key roles of an AMS is to save you time in gathering and making sense of your data.

AMS CHECKLIST:

•Look for real integrations through direct APIs
•Ask how much the integration will cost or if it’s included in your rates
•If they don’t connect to your technologies directly, make sure they have a pain-free way for you to upload data via csv, cml and the ability to add data as image and video files.
•Can you export data OUT as easily as you can upload and import it in?

If you’re a College or University, check out our new in 2020 College Offer here.

2. CAN I BUILD OUT MY OWN DATA ANALYTICS WORKFLOWS?

As mentioned above, templated workflows* are a great place to start when setting up your athlete management system.

*By workflow we mean the process of pulling data points into the system, combining them in specific ways to make meaning from the data, then visualizing them in dashboards and reports.

All AMS systems should allow you to this, and many will be set up with templated workflows that do all the work for you. The downside of many of these systems though is that they are based on only one way to analyze the data, with no room to edit and adjust the workflow to suit the specific requirements of your athletes and your sport or organization. So it’s important to make sure you are not constrained by hard coded workflows – can you evolve over time and build out your own workflows quickly and efficiently?

Some key workflows and data analytics areas:

Player Availability: The ability to document the availability status of an athlete on any given day and share notes across departments where applicable.

Profiling: Combining data points like training load, sleep, RPE, injury and health into view to better inform if a player is available to participate on any given day.

Workload Monitoring: Monitoring the volume and intensity of your players to determine their ‘workload’ – this is going to be different for every sport and activity (field vs. gym) so be mindful of that when looking at templated workflows.

Strength & Conditioning: Creating training plans and programs for your athletes, operators or performers with the ability to save certain plans and use them again later.

Training logs & Wellness Questionnaires: One of the cheapest, efficient, and commonly used ways to capture the internal response and workload of your athletes is through self reported questionnaires. Make sure your AMS has a mobile app, kiosk for use in common areas or online portal to help you gather information directly from the athletes themselves, instead of manually collecting it via pen and paper still then entering it into the system later.

Anthropometry & Performance testing: Reviewing anthro information and performance testing results is vital to scouting and ongoing player development. Again, you will want the ability to adjust what information is collected and how it is presented as this would be different depending on the sport and organization.

Injury Risk Assessments: This is where your data analytics can certainly get more complicated however there are many simple ways to monitor high injury risk scenarios with basic rules and heuristics. Additionally a big plus is the ability to evolve your workflows and analysis over time as you gather more historical data and intel around what may be impacting injuries for your organization.

Calendars and schedules: Can you build out a schedule for your athletes for training, appointments, games? Whilst most teams already use communication tools for this, it is certainly helpful to start centralizing all your information in one place and know you have the ability to develop this in your system.

Electronic Medical Records: There are many strengths and advantages of housing your athlete performance information in the same system as your medical records. For one thing, your performance team will have access to real time information on athlete health from medical staff to assist them in choosing teams based on availability. An EMR does introduce the need for another layer of privacy and security, however a robust AMS should have the relevant permissions and security set up to support this.

AMS CHECKLIST:

•Provides templated and efficient workflow solutions that cover the specific areas you’re looking for
•Gives you the ability to edit your workflows and data calculations quickly, without needing a developer or coding experience
•Ensures you have the flexibility to build your own workflows and calculations

If you’re a College or University, check out our new in 2020 College Offer here.

3. CAN I EASILY VISUALIZE AND REPORT ON MY DATA IN THE SYSTEM?

It’s one thing to track performance, collect data and then get all your data into one place, but how are you actually USING it?

A key benefit of having an AMS system is the ability to turn your data into usable information, that is easy to understand and digest in the least amount of time possible. Your workflows should be set up to identify the data that is important to your athletes, your goals and strategies, then feed that information into visual reports for coaches, athletes and performance staff.

These reports are essentially the output of all your hard work in setting up the system and tracking all your data.

Your reports should be:

•Appropriate for the audience. For example a Coach will digest information differently to a sports scientist or front office team.
•Interactive. To allow you to dig deeper into the reporting as you see fit.
•Best Practice. Follow data visualization best practices to ensure the information is interpreted correctly and is easy to digest.

When choosing an AMS you will need to make sure the visualizationa and reporting component provides you with a solution that will support the above points, and easily build out your reports as needed without needing to learn code or use a developer.

An example of a data visualization tool is the Smartabase dashboard builder, enabling teams to build out their own reports and visualizations as needed without the help of developers.

Some examples of interactive dashboard reports built in the Smartabase Athlete Management System using the dashboard builder.

Athlete Summary Cards

Coach: A central card for each athlete with all my critical information, customized to show what I choose. Simple, informative and interactive.

Availability & Availability flags

Coach: These dashboards allow me to see the current status of all my athletes, click through to more details and highlight any flags to allow for proactive conversations with my medical and performance staff.

Workload Tracking

S&C Coach: When reviewing the workload of my players I need to quickly identify any notable trends with the squad. I can see as a collective my squads’ workload is increasing here and below that I can see a quick snapshot of any flagged athletes

Anthropometry Testing

S&C Coach: Setting anthropometric and body composition goals allows me to motivate my athletes. This report can provide a quick snapshot of where my athletes are at and where I need them to be

Injury Surveillance

Athletic Trainer: Auditing injuries can be extremely valuable. Here I can quickly identify any body areas of focus and assist in planning additional preventive/prehab exercises with coaching staff and trainers.

A FINAL NOTE ON SUPPORT


You should also be thinking outside of just what the system enables you to do, to other important areas like:

Support: What kind of support are they offering with the system? Will you be guided by Sports Scientists or is it simply up to you? Will they train you?

Security: Cybersecurity and data compliance is critical when storing athlete/operator information and data. Be sure that your AMS provider is compliant with relevant laws and measures up to high security standards (more details here on exactly what to look for).

Scalability: Starting simple is great, but is this AMS going to cater for your needs in 12 months, 24 months, 5 years? Start small but think big and make sure your AMS is future proof.

Speed: This is often overlooked but you should definitely be asking for a live demonstration of the software so you can review speed and ask what is going to impact the speed of your system in future.

Proven track record: How many clients have they lost in the past and why? What is their client retention rate? For reference, the Fusion Sport client retention rate is 98%.

We hope this blog has been helpful in assisting you to find the athlete data management solution that is right for your athletes and your organization.

Essentially an AMS should be whatever YOU need it to be but should always come back to a few central benefits:
1. Saving you time
2. Centralizing your data and processes
3. Assisting your departments to communicate, share information and become more aligned.

For more information on the Smartabase Athlete Management System contact our team here, or explore some of our client examples here.

If you’re a College or University, check out our new in 2020 College Offer here.