diane-bloodworthThe field of sports analytics continues to grow, thanks to passionate people putting in the work and demonstrating how using data in coaching, training, athletics, and game planning is vital to adding to the win column.

We sat down with Diane Bloodworth, CEO of Competitive Sports Analysis to learn more about this exciting field.

She started her company with a simple mission in mind — to help teams win. To make this vision a reality, her team delivers a unique proprietary algorithm to make college athlete recruiting easier than ever before.

Let’s take a look at what she had to say about the growing field of sports analytics and how you can find success in your career:

The Industry — Today and Tomorrow

As the field gains more support and interest, Bloodworth celebrates how far the field has come and looks forward to future development:

Sports analytics is exploding, which is really exciting for us. I had a dream of helping teams use analytics to win, and it’s fun to accomplish that. However, it’s taking awhile for some coaches to buy into using data. We look forward to three things happening in our industry.

First of all, we want to see coaches using data and finding value in analytics. These analytics can help them on a daily basis.

The second thing we want to see a trend toward is more accessible data. There’s a lot of data now, but we need to make it easier to collect. Right now, it’s a little too fractured, but soon we will start to see more data aggregation. The closest we have currently is MaxPreps, which is owned by CBS. They focus on collecting in-game statistical data for high school sports.

The third is a little more distant, but I want to see analytics merge together to add even more value. For example, performance analytics help to develop training profiles for athletes to ensure they’re successful at gametime. But those profiles may also help to find new recruits. Then, the recruits may lead to more advanced input for game planning.  

Coaches Want to Improve

While some more traditional coaches are hesitant to change, Bloodworth is optimistic as more coaches begin understanding the benefits of using data and analytics:

You really have to prove the effectiveness and efficiency of sports analytics to coaches who adopt a more traditional approach. Data can be intimidating.

Coaches aren’t data and analytics experts, and we don’t expect them to be. That’s why companies like ours focus on making it fairly straightforward for them to use.

Fortunately, I’m seeing a group of coaches who are open to technology, innovation, and other ways to improve their processes.

The Ideal Sports Analytics Professional

Bloodworth notices a few common traits among the most successful professionals:

Overall, successful sports analytics professionals need two skills — passion and grit.

First, passion for sports is what helps you better understand how analytics can be used in this world. For example, we hired an intern who plays soccer in college and studies math and statistics, so she’s a great fit for us.

Given the competitive nature of the field, you also need to be gritty. There’s a lot of scrappy professionals who thrive. Grit really carries you through the challenges of the industry.

Opportunities Await

There are several career tracks you can take, and Bloodworth highlights the importance of a few of the most common ones:

The data analyst is a key position. They are responsible for managing the data, ensuring it’s complete and accurate, and administering all that information.

One of our data analysts has an engineering degree and a masters in analytics. He loves understanding the data, but also gets involved in the algorithm side.

Other key positions include coders, marketers, software developers and testers, subject matter experts, and algorithm analysts.

The best way to stick out and to earn these kinds of jobs is to have experience with a sports entity, like through an internship. Experience is the forerunner in appeal to hireability.

Even if you can’t get into sports, get a job working with data in another industry.

Research is another way to get noticed. Did you do research in school? Have you written any models or papers on sports analytics? That’s a huge plus.

For more experienced roles, we look for people who have a network within the world of sports. For example, we reach out to consultants to better understand what coaches need and how our product can benefit them.

One of our consultants was a trainer for the Washington Wizards, so he gets how coaches think, how athletes work, and thanks to his extensive experience, he has a lot of great contacts.

The growing field of sports analytics leaves a lot of open doors for you. With this expert insight into what you need to know to thrive in the industry and valuable tips on how to seize these opportunities, it’s time to take action.

How are you preparing for a career in sports analytics?