There is a lot to learn from the world of sports. Athletes like to try new things and find out if they are successful or not. Below I describe 3 case studies that will inspire you.

I have said it before: sports are at the forefront of innovation. For many people, sports are mere entertainment, but sports are a billion dollar business at the same time, and the incentives for innovating are huge. Athletes are becoming better and better by using new insights gained through measuring and analyzing. The case studies that I will describe below will inspire everyone, even those who don’t like sports!

Cycling: The Order of the Peloton Matters

Last year, a wind tunnel was put into use at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Using it, a complete team time trial can be tested. The cyclists of the LottoNL-Jumbo cycling team were the first ones to use the tunnel.

The following item can be measured here: when riding the peloton, which order of the cyclists requires the least energy from the group as a whole? Knowing that, the team can adjust their formation in the peloton so the best possible outcome can be achieved.

In an interview, cyclist Jos van Emden said that he was convinced of the usefulness of the test. “It really matters who rides in front of me. Half a second can determine who wins the race, and that’s why the order in which we ride can be the determining factor.”

Big Data Fights Match Fixing

Sportradar AG is a multinational corporation that collects and analyzes sports data. Clients are bookmakers, national and international sports federations, and media companies. The firm provides federations and law enforcement agencies with a system for detecting betting-related match-fixing, the so-called “Fraud Detection System.”

Sports and technology website SportTechie explains how it works:

Leveraging mountains of data, Sportradar generates mathematical and statistical models that reflect the likelihood of match results or events within those matches. When those models are compared against what is actually happening in the pre-match and live-betting markets, anomalies can be identified and then analyzed by a team of over 40 betting analysts in order to understand context.

In those cases where those anomalies are unorthodox enough, and where no legitimate explanation can be identified, match-fixing, point shaving, and illegal betting may be to blame.

Since the launch of its Fraud Detection System, Sportradar has been involved in several notable match-fixing cases such as the Nepal scandal in 2015, the Austrian case including Sanel Kuljić in 2013, and the Australian match-fixing case in 2013.

Smart Skating Suit Helps Dutch Win

During the recent Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, the Dutch team wore so-called “Samsung SmartSuits.” These intelligent suits provide data about the ideal skating position through sensors. Five sensors on the back and legs communicate with each other and continuously measure the posture.

As short-track speed-skater Sjinkie Knegt put it: “I always skated based on intuition, and I myself estimated that I was deep enough. Now my coach can see exactly if I should skate with a deeper edge for my ideal posture.”

The results in Pyongyang were great: 16 medals!

What You Can Learn From This

Many innovations in sport are small ideations that have an impact on a fraction of a second. That doesn’t sound very exciting, but small competitive advantages such as these can determine whether an athlete wins or loses. Likewise, in your day-to-day business, each small innovation will give you a little advantage in a competitive market. Be slightly smarter than your competitors every day, and very soon, they will be left far behind.