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Making everyone’s job easier. How do data scientists fit as a critical member of integrated support teams?
  1. Johann Windt1,2,
  2. David Taylor3,4,5,
  3. Dean Little6,
  4. Ben C Sporer2,7
  1. 1 Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia School of Kinesiology, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3 Sports Medicine, United States Olymic Committee, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  4. 4 US Coalition for Prevention of Illness and Injury in Sport, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  5. 5 Golden State Warriors, San Francisco, CA, USA
  6. 6 New York Mets, Queens, NY, USA
  7. 7 Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Johann Windt, Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia School of Kinesiology, Vancouver, Canada; johannwindt{at}

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As technological advances abound and a tidal wave of data hits the sporting world’s shore, the demand for organisations to hire professionals who can reliably collect, integrate and analyse these data continues to rise.1 Sports biostatisticians have recently been promoted as integral members within sport science and sport medicine teams.1 Although data-focused professionals may work as a ‘sports biostatistician’, ‘data analyst’, ‘sport scientist’, ‘performance analyst’ or more,1 2 we will use ‘data scientist’ for consistency. Regardless of their specific title, common responsibilities for these professionals may include applying data management and analysis skillsets to athlete monitoring, building efficient data collection tools, analysing data for scouting/recruitment, performance analysis, epidemiological reporting and more.1 As a foundation, data scientists may build or maintain a data infrastructure to support these processes. As an end-product, they provide decision-support systems that inform and audit decisions made across departments.3–5 The benefits that such decision-support systems provide and their ability to outperform single humans’ decision-making in many realms has been reviewed elsewhere,4 5 underscoring the value of data scientists within sport. What remains to be clearly outlined in the literature is how these individuals fit within integrated support teams.

Maximising the effect of a data scientist in an integrated support team

No universally accepted integrated support team structure exists. Sporting demands, organisational resources and other contextual factors all dictate the number, role and responsibilities of physicians, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, coaching staff, athletic trainers exist within a given integrated support team. However, most integrated support teams are athlete-centred, with complementary disciplines providing support for athletes’ performance and health-related needs.6

Each discipline brings its respective skillset to the table and ideally enables a collaborative conversation to guide health and performance-related decisions.7 Logically, a well-structured, collaborative and multidisciplinary integrated support team would be improved if one adds a data scientist as another voice …

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  • Twitter @JohannWindt, @Ben_Sporer

  • Contributors JW compiled the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the paper concept and manuscript and editing the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.