How AI and Big Data serves Olympic champion Carolina Marín

Madrid, Dec 3 (EFE).- Every acceleration, every lunge and every return that Carolina Marín makes on the court is the result of rigorous physical and mental preparation, but the badminton champion also relies on a secret tactic based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.

The objective? To transpose Marín’s movements, and those of her rivals, into data to optimize performance, capitalize on opponents’ weaknesses, predict the trajectory of a game and to tailor training exercises.

“Everything is an ingredient brought together in a dish that is quite complicated to cook,” Fernando Rivas, Marín’s trainer and a key figure in the success of the Olympic gold medal winner, tells Efe in an interview.

The coach, who arrived at the Spanish Badminton Federation in 2004, has learned how to adapt these new technologies to enhance the kind of specialized training programs needed for an elite athlete like Marín.

“Big Data and AI is actually a key point for our development in order to try and find new ways to model the training. In our opinion, it is very important to have control of the percentage of accelerations we have on court,” he adds.

”We also use AI to predict better patterns to play against different players, so using algorithms applied to performance is actually our goal in our analysis area.”

The so-called Rivas method has helped Marín lay claim to the sport’s highest accolades, including Olympic gold in Rio, three World Championships and five European Championships.

To transform information into performance development programs, Marín’s coaching staff use a program that Rivas himself designed.

“Data analysis has evolved enormously throughout my career, particularly with Carolina. Now we are looking for more predictive metrics,” he tells Efe.

“Not only will it optimize our performance for each hit point, but it will help us train the young players of the future.”

Their objective now is to keep winning titles with Marín and help the sport to continue growing.

Now on her way back from an injury that ruled her out of Tokyo 2020, Marín and her team have their sights set on the next major competition, Paris 2024.

Rivas elaborates on what sets the Spanish badminton player apart from the rest.

“What makes Carolina different from the rest of the players, is that she is a very proactive player, very fast and when she hits the shuttle, it goes really fast. That creates a large amount of opportunities for the coming strokes and puts pressure on the opponents.

“This kind of playing style results in a lot of unforced errors, but mostly in opportunities to get winners and mistakes from the opponents due to the amount of pressure they have to cope with,” he adds.EFE


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