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Bragg Prize runner-up: AI in Sports Science

Bragg Prize AI

Congratulations to Zavier Argent for being a runner-up in the 2023 UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing

In his response to this year’s theme, how we use and benefit from AI (with a particular focus on science), Leeming Senior High School student Zavier Argent explores the application of AI in the field of sports science.

“Compelling, comprehensive essay about an interesting application of AI in the field of sports science. The writer’s passion for the topic clearly comes through in the piece,” said Donna Lu, a science writer at Guardian Australia and Bragg Prize judge.

Read Zavier’s full essay below!

AI in Sports Science

by Zavier Argent
Year 8, Leeming Senior High School, Leeming, WA

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we live our lives. AI uses machine learning to process data and make predictions humans cannot. Many industries are being impacted by AI in a significant way, including the sports science industry. It is changing the way players are recruited, with much more accurate analysis. The way fans are experiencing and engaging the game day experience is evolving and athletes’ injuries are managed using new techniques – all thanks to AI. The application of AI in the sports science industry has immense potential to revolutionise the way athletes are managed, enhance player performance and transform the fan experience.

AI is transforming the way athletes are managed before and after an injury as well as during rehabilitation. With wearable trackers, specialised AI can identify if an athlete is executing the exercise correctly. It identifies human joints and provides the user with guidance on how to accurately carry out the activity to ensure there are no injuries. This technology is already being used in weightlifting to safeguard against injuries sustained whilst carrying heavy loads. Wearable trackers are being utilised in AFL and NBA games. The trackers gather information with regard to strain and tear levels and alert coaches before an injury occurs. Using machine learning, statistics and data is gathered from sensors which then examine changes in body position that suggest fatigue or potential injuries. Cameras can be used to analyse biomechanical data to identify player movements suggesting injuries. This technology is currently being incorporated in cricket for bowling and tennis for serving to ensure damage is not done to the back whilst carrying out the activity. US basketball and the NFL are incorporating AI to design training drills that minimise the risk of injury in addition with rehabilitation programs that make the process more efficient and effective.

Player performance is being significantly enhanced due to the increased use of AI in sports science. Weight programs and training exercises are being designed for specific athletes based on body mass, muscle mass, their sport and what they do on a daily basis, as well as other factors. Diet plans can be designed which are based on when there is a match or if it’s a recovery day. This technology can identify 1200 food types suited to the athlete and tell them the amount to eat as well as produce a nutritional benefit report. This technology is used by many track athletes to get the most energy out of the food they eat. AI can analyse your team or opposition teams by watching games and identify strengths and weaknesses, which is very helpful for coaches in basketball competitions across the US and European soccer leagues. Liverpool FC use AI in the EPL to design training programs tailored to certain players based on their injury history and current fitness levels. This increases the effectiveness of drills for each individual.

Recruiting players is becoming increasingly important in sports and AI is assisting in refining decisions about drafting new players. In soccer leagues across Europe, cameras watch potential draftees and evaluate their skills. It can rank them in various categories such as speed, stamina, skill and overall ability. Special competencies can be spotted such as corner taking abilities in soccer or intercept marking in AFL. The NBA is already using this technology to find players suiting specific positions. 

Another facet of sport that has the potential to be transformed by AI is fan experience. AI could be used to improve fan engagement and provide a more interactive experience for fans. In the future fans could ask chatbots questions and get an instant response, providing an insight into teams and players.

Tennis Australia is leading the way for AI advancement. It is transforming the way tennis is officiated, making the umpire’s job much easier. An AI called Hawkeye tracks the ball to see whether it lands in or out. Ten cameras around the court track the ball and communicate with each other and the umpire. 

Courtney Lewis, a blind tennis player, enjoys watching tennis but finds it very difficult to with just the sounds of the game. An AI called Action Audio applies sound effects to tennis games. It turns ball movements into 3D sound and Courtney says knowing where it landed and how it was hit makes watching and listening to tennis much more engaging.

AI is enhancing player performance, revolutionising athlete injury prevention, advancing fan engagement and transforming recruitment techniques. Ultimately AI is changing the sports science industry for the better by providing fans with a more interactive experience, providing coaches with more insight into other teams and giving players the opportunity to be the best athletes the world has ever seen.

For the 2023 UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing we asked Australian high school students to enter 800-word essays responding to the theme how we use and benefit from AI, with a particular focus on science.

Read other winning essays:


For updates on the 2024 UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing, sign up to the Careers with STEM weekly e-newsletter.

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Love science and writing? The UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing opens for entries April 29.