Literature Review (Chapter 2)

Critical Evaluation of Informatics to enhance sporting performance


2.1. Abstract

2.2. Introduction

2.3. Sport Informatics

2.3.1. Scientific approach

2.3.2. Professional sport devices

2.3.3. Sensors

2.4. Users’ behaviour

2.4.1. Behaviour theories

2.4.2. Motivation in sports

2.4.3. Analysis of applications for mobile devices

2.5. Conclusion


2.1. Abstract

Good mental preparedness as well as physical condition are essential for achieving notable sports results. Several PC applications are used for measuring and analysing performance. Some systems are evolved for special laboratory use but a lot of applications are made for home users. Among applications, some of them have been developed for helping athletes’ mental preparations as well as many of them support athletes to increase their physical condition. No application can be identified which deal with the above mentioned two important aspects and easily accessible to everyone. This project will undertake to fill this gap. It is expedient to use applications of the two fields for this suppletory application, and their combination can create an efficient system.

2.2. Introduction

In our modern technologized world, computer solutions cover all areas of life. One of the first conferences was held in Graz, Austria in 1975 when information technology was in its infancy. Sports science and information technology are two different disciplines. Sport Informatics utilises these disciplines’ inventions to achieve its goals. Reviewing the history and main features of this field is essential to be able to acquire knowledge about the theme.

The third chapter will introduce the history of related scientific fields. It will also give an insight of the aims of scientists dealing with this field and of absence of this discipline and it will show how scientists try to cooperate to achieve common goals. Then it presents testing and measuring equipment of professional laboratories. Sensors used for measuring will also be discussed.

Broad applicability is one of the main features of a successful application. Group of users and their habits and opportunities are necessary to be examined to be able to achieve these aspects. This research devotes one chapter to examine users’ habits and need, and tries to get to as many group of user as it is possible. Our target group does not only consist of professional athletes. We would like to provide amateur athletes and fitness lovers with the opportunity to achieve better results thank to our intended application. These aspects will be discussed in the fourth chapter.

The main features of this project is the assessment and measurement of mental and physical condition, analysis of data and advices for improvement. Review of literature and relevant systems are required for the right information and measurement so the research need to be expanded into these aspects, too, and credibility of the application can be proved by existing systems. The method of collection of data of mental condition and the structure of exercises for measuring physical condition are important factors.

We assume that experience gained during the review of the above mentioned four topics will help us to complete the project professionally.


2.3. Sport Informatics

Every academic publication related to sport is essential to be able to acquire knowledge about disciplines dealing with this topic. In many cases, it is not evident which field links to different research field and who is eligible to deal with the field. These fundamental questions will be discussed below.


2.3.1. Scientific approach

Sport Informatics was formed by the fusion of Computer Science and Sport Science. Information Technology, as a discipline, appeared in encyclopaedias at the end of 1980s as it was defined as the processing of digital information by computer. (Engesse 1988). Over the years, IT has been integrated into other disciplines such as Sports science.

The first computers were introduced in sport in the 1960s when a database was created to collect sports related information. International Association for Sports Information (IASI) was founded in 1960 by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO )

The most important questions are that who is responsible for the theme and what kind of purposes he/she has. The two disciplines are quite far from each other but the fusion, like this, can improve sport performances significantly. (Stöck and Lames 2011)
Reasons of cooperation can be political, scientific or even personal motivation. A lot of IT experts work in the Sports science because of their personal interest in sport.


Interest for cooperation is shown by the figure below.


Source: Arnold Baca, 2015, Computer Science in Sport, pp 7

Quality of cooperation is also an important aspect, that is, how Computer Science and Sports Science work together and how they should function together. Structure of the links can be Multidisciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity és Transdisciplinarity.
Multidisciplinarity features that there is no obvious link between actors and result is additive, not integrative. Regarding Interdisciplinarity, close cooperation and collaboration can be observed so result is also joint. In contrast to them, Transdisciplinarity has joint theories, conditions, methods and concepts (Sánchez 2010).


Different types of cooperation can be identified:

1. Sports Science use existing IT devices, programs or Computer Science unchecked sources so there is no link between them.

2. Sports Science integrates Computer Science knowledge.

3. Cooperation of the two disciplines.

4. It is similar to the third point but sport knowledge is integrated into IT development such as movements of robots.

A research carried out about the above mentioned types, and it proved that type 1 and 2 were common. Type 3 and 4 rarely occurred. The reason behind it was the lack of IT experts who were interested in Sports Science.

An analysis dealt with the most common IT applications in sport. (1) Database storage and management, (2) analysis, modelling and simulation, (3) presentation and visualisation, (4) networks and communication. These fields often appear together in research. One of the best examples are various biomechanical devices which, with the help of computers, utilise data collected by sensors, high-speed cameras and other devices. (Godbout & Boyd 2012).

Another research showed the role of networks and communication during coaches’ works. (Lyons, 2011). This publication proved the importance of internet and social networks in coaches’ lives. Networks help to organise trainings and partners, set up groups, make conference calls and study by distance learning.

Not only IT has spreaded in sport but sport has also got into IT. A good example is the previously mentioned modelling of movements of human-like robots. A research was carried out about robots’ optimal movements. This research dealt with optimisation of motions what were non-existent, untraceable and non-written on theoretically way. As a result, it was proved that movements, optimised by mathematical algorithms, were rarely matched optimal movements. (Laumond, Mansard & Lassere 2014).

Analysis of communication is another example of presence of sport in IT. Analysis of communication of players and teams are tried to be used for creating artificial intelligent systems by researchers.

According to this classification, the third example is portable computers. Portable computers are capable to analyse different groups such as athletes’ behaviour during their activities.

Gaining knowledge about users’ coordination is one of the most important aspects of usage of portable computers. By portable computers, users can track the data of computers which analyse their movements even during their activities, and it makes them possible to correct their movements in real-time (Molenaar, Wang & Newell 2013).

The listed factors point in the direction of the need of cooperation of disciplines to implement projects successfully which link sport with IT. Sport Informatics cannot exist without any of the disciplines. The two disciplines are required to work closer to each other to gain more efficient applications and devices. Implementation would be difficult and quality would also be problematic without the professional knowledge and help of the client of this project.

Not only professionals but measuring equipment and applications are also needed for valid research. Although this project does not aim to develop laboratory application, reviewing existing solutions

Not only professionals but reliable measuring devices and applications are also needed for credible research. Although the aim of the project is not development of laboratory application, reviewing the existing solutions could help to develop a well-functioning application. That is why it will be discussed in the next chapter of this study.


2.3.2. Professional sport devices

After the topic of the project was conceived, Sports Laboratory of the University of Sunderland was visited as a first step. Working mechanism of its professional devices and software needed to use them were introduced by the senior technician of the laboratory, Stuart Dixon. Getting familiar with this field has helped to have an insight into devices used for measuring, studying and developing sports movements and activities. It will be discussed in the next chapter.

The non-exhaustive list of devices is as follows:

· LAFAYETTE MUSCLE TESTING SYSTEM ( it has not mobile application)

· Biometric limited other device with 4 sensors

  • Real power muscle tester

· Biodex Balance stability System (alternative Nintendo Fitpad)

  • Reaction Batak Lite and Pro
  • Full body motion tracking with Kinect

· Vicom 3D motion analysis (Gold dress with sensors)

· Adidas miCoach Smart Ball (built-in accelerometer, iPhone application)

  • FlightScope Golf
  • Biodex Gait Traning System

· Retul professional Bike Fitting system (motion capture)

  • Fit Light System

Professional devices are mainly available in laboratories, although wide range of their availability has to be considered during planning to give the opportunity to as many people as possible to practice in trainings or use them for rehabilitation. This theme was discussed at UbiComp conference in 2006 (Kranz, Spiessl & Schmidt 2007). According to the study, low number of sensors can be applied for sport research but several applications were developed for this small number of sensors. The most commonly used sensors are Ergometer (it measures muscular work) and sensors for measuring pulse and heart rhythm. More complex devices are required in sport. As an expert does not always attend during the usage of devices, easily understandable usage is key for patients and coaches. Another important aspect is the immediate feedback to be able to modify and learn in real-time. Visualisation of results can also help to evaluate quickly but user-friendly operator interfaces are important too (García, Martín-Moncunill, Sánchez-Alonso & García 2014). The summary of the study highlighted the importance of data storage. Patients’ improvement cannot be traced without it, and patient can get positive feedback about the improvement of his/her state.

Wide range of utilisation has been determined as one of the main aims of the project. Although review of professional devices and solutions was a good starting point for our project, we did not aim laboratory solution and its development. Among laboratory solutions, there were devices such as Microsoft XBOX Kinect camera system or Nintendo Wii Balance Board (FitPad), too, which were sold in large number and could also be found at homes. These are available to everybody and they might be used for development.

2.3.3. Sensors

Using sensors is essential to be able to measure physical condition. Sensors evolved a lot during the technological explosion, and nowadays, many of them can already be found in a mobile phone. Variable sensors are used for supporting sports performance. These sensors will be discussed in this chapter.

A study titled ‘The Inertial Sensor: a base platform for wider adoption in sports science applicationswas carried out by Espinosa, Lee & James (2015). Technical development made some sensors possible to spread in laboratories and education thanks to their small size, cheapness and low power consumption. These sensors are the triaxial accelerometer, gyroscope and digital magnetometer which can already be connected to systems without wire. Development is shown by the fact that the first accelerometer sensors were only capable to perceive one-way movement while today’s sensors can measure in three directions and they only have the size of 52x34x12 mm and weight of 22 g. Besides sensors, the prices of required accessories, such as computing power and memory, have decreased. Sensors have also been associated with fast graphical user interfaces, such as Matlab. As previously mentioned, these devices have been introduced not only in laboratory work but also in education. Almost every university has them.

Sensors have spreaded not only in individual sport but they have also become widely used in team sports. For example, GPS is used for tracking team members’ movements. (Cummins, Orr, O'Connor & West 2013). This technology can be used for measuring athletes’ speed, acceleration, distance and collecting data in athletics. The research studied several sports like Rugby, Cricket, Hockey and Netball. It was proved that technology could help every sport to locate positions, for example.

A nearly ten-year-old but still up-to-date research was carried out about electronical devices in sport. The research mentioned several target sensors. Inter alia, a coin-sized microwave transmitter was built in a football which made possible to determine and analyse the position of the ball during the whole game. Sensors have been made for dresses, too, what were used to record skiers’ downhills. In addition, chest protector has been also made with built-in sensors to analyse the movements of martial arts. (Chi, Borriello, Hunt & Daviel 2005)
Hynes, O'Grady and O'Hare (2013) analysed the importance of technology in sport. The following applications were mentioned in their study: SwimMaster which meant wearable sensors and a processing system what could help to analyse swimmers’ techniques. TennisSence is a platform with 9 fixed cameras which form a system for motion analysis. Heart rate sensors are the most common and most used sensors. This study also mentioned the GPS technology which could be made more accurate by software and hardware.

Due to the characteristics of sport, those sensors are the most common which are capable for measuring, recording movements and determining position. Sensors can be placed on athletes’ bodies, dresses or be built into their equipment.

So far, the readers have been acquainted with scientific experts and devices and they use, but the most important aspect, the users have not been mentioned yet. All information discussed before is ineffective without having knowledge about behaviour and motivation of users, that is to say, athletes. The next section will give an insight to fill this gap.


2.4 Users’ behaviour

The aim of the project is achieving better sports performance, and its subjects are athletes and people leading active lifestyle. Their habits and motivations are important aspects. The whole project is dedicated to the support what can be offered them. Therefore, we need to know what they do and why they do that, and how we can be their help.

2.4.1. Behaviour theories

Different theses were found about examination of human behaviour. For example these theses are Self Determination Theory (SDT), Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), or Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). Main features of these theses will be analysed in this chapter to identify which method is appropriate to recognise habits of potential users of the project (Weinberg and Gould, 2014).

SDT divide human motivation into three fundamental parts, analyses intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and lack of motivation. Self-determination theory consider intrinsic motivation as the most important drive. This enables people to experience their freedoms, autonomies and act and pursue their aims. Decrease of self-sufficiency can be observed when intrinsic motivation is decreasing towards demotivation. (Rottensteiner et al., 2015) Most of the human motivation (e.g. personal development, self-regulation, life goals and endeavour, energy and vitality) can be examined by this method. Non conscious processes (e.g. social contacts) or impact of culture in social environment can also be examined (Deci & Ryan 2008).

Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) framework was developed in 1975 by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen who based it on previous human behaviour researches. The method basically analyse relations between attitude and behaviour in human actions. Behaviour is determined directly by intention and it is influenced by beliefs and intrinsic and extrinsic norms. They impact on people's and groups' behaviours. TRA is based on the presumption that behaviour is voluntary but every behaviour can be determined by will. In many cases, individuals cannot make decisions or control their behaviours. Several research used this theory to study individuals' behaviours in case of high-risk and dangerous conditions and deviant behaviour (Burak, Rosenthal & Richardson 2013).

Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) is the most used theory which is applied to predict human reactions. It is the most used when a human physical activity is needed to be anticipated. TPB was developed as an addition of Theory of Reasoned Action in 1980 by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen. Intention for action is divided into three different determinants which are attitude, subjective behaviour and Perceived Behaviour Control. The first determinant shows that expediency can lead to the change of positive attitude. The second determinant, subjective norms is defined according to conclusions or its importance to us or others. The third determinant, the behaviour control points out the effect of limitation of desire and other emotions during our activities. Behavioural intention shows what an individual is willing to implement to achieve the desired behaviour. Higher behavioural intention of a concrete behaviour means that the behaviour is more likely to happen. Motivation is considered as such an intention.

The above mentioned theses showed that motivations influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic effects. Physical activities can be analysed by TPB framework which determines intention as the main determinant of behaviour. Motivation is one basic element of intention.


2.4.2. Motivation in sports

Motivation is a major driving force in sports and fitness activities. The reason of motivation is key to reach the target group. In professional sport, achieving the best possible results or earning a lot of money can be good examples of motivation. In addition, controlling and forming body shape and social life are also motivational factors.

A study assessed the motivation of continuation among people doing fitness and it proved the following (Chang & Hee 2015). Sport is an acknowledged method to maintain and improve mental and physical health. People typically go to sports and fitness centres to take part in group sessions or do individual trainings. Those who spend on personal trainers have stronger motivation. The study used the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) what had been included in many other research in the last few decades. Research subjects were mix of men and women around 40 year whom were asked to complete the questionnaire in their breaks. Answers could be marked on a scale from 1 to 5. Answers were categorised by individual and group sport. The study pointed out that the biggest motivation was the healthy lifestyle among respondents.

In 2015, Kang, Ha & Marion carried out a research about students' motivations for using sports related applications. The study showed that the main motivations for using sports related applications were the desire to follow sports events and their results, have fun through video games and communication.



As a conclusion of studies, inactive (not involving in sport regularly) people follow sports events, play sports video games and join social networks. Active users' main motivations are to maintain healthy lifestyle or control and form their bodies.


2.4.3. Analysis of applications for mobile devices

Although this project's topic is sport, it is also important to study what the main purposes are behind use of mobile applications. This chapter will discuss it.

The most common user habits during use of mobile devices (Jyothy & Shinto 2013):

a) Search for information

b) Access social networks

c) Access local information and services

d) Search Videos

e) Accessing webpages

f) Entertainments

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h) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity

i) Travel information.

j) Office activities e-mail, communicator etc.

Rate of use of mobile internet was described by Jyothy & Shinto in 2013. 60% of internet users used personal computer and 40% preferred mobile devices. Significant variations could be identified concerning purposes. For example, 84% of users have already used online map services on mobile devices, and weather and music services were also preferred on mobile devices (approx. 60%). Mobile devices and PC were represented 50-50% regarding social networks or sports applications. PC dominated in the topic of commerce and emailing with a rate of 60-40%.

As a result of the study, we can conclude that mobile devices are used more frequently for some purposes. They are tasks what require mobility (e.g. map services). PC is used for tasks what can be done without move (Hoehle & Venkatesh 2015).


2.5. Conclusion

In this report, we observed devices and software in sport. Main features and tasks of our project were introduced in the foreword. Although, we attempted to divide chapters independently of this project, the aim of the main project has slightly affected our approach.

The formation and theory of Sport Informatics were discussed in the third sub-section. This discipline was formed by two other disciplines. Links are not equal in any case. In addition, some problems have arised what have affected the operation. Cooperation would be needed between Sports Science and Computer Science classes. Currently available, professional sport related devices were pointed out in this chapter. High number of these devices is only found in laboratories but besides expensive devices, cheap sensors can also be identified which could be applicable for our project. Currently used sensors were listed in the next subchapter and we proved that almost every sensor can be utilised by sport related applications. Motion tracking and location detection are the most common utilization. The aim of general sensors and software related to them is not accurate and reliable measurements and they do not store large amount of data which is adequate for scientific approach. However, they could provide proper starting point for development of a more effective solution. As financial support or funding are not available for this project, use of the most widely known devices and sensors is the most appropriate solution.

Users’ habits were discussed in the fourth chapter. We got to know motivation theories in the first chapter. Then we analysed individual and group motivation in sport related applications, too. Variable motivation can be observed regarding active and inactive users, and it is different concerning individual and group habits, too. Active individuals’ main motivations are healthy life and keeping body in shape while good performance and livelihood are considered the most important in professional sport. Then we investigated users’ habits concerning all mobile applications. High rate of applications, based on sensors which are built into mobile devices, needs to be highlighted. Potential users of the project are people who are willing to devote time to recurrently assess mental and physical states. Motivation and interest can only be maintained if the application can provide performance improvement in a foreseeable time. It is important to focus on easy and enjoyable usability of the application to be able to maintain interest. We have to avoid complexity of the application because it can decrease willingness to use the application.

Information gathered through literature review has to be used during development of the software. Mistakes resulted by view of IT experts has to be avoided and sports professionals also need to be involved or their ideas need to be considered. Services provided by professional devices are definitely useful guidelines for intended assessment of physical condition. Assessment of physical condition is not possible without use of motion, position and other sensors.

These factors are only enough for initial steps, in addition to these, each function has to be supplemented with more detailed research of functions.