Innovative data approach leading women's performance management

To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Anna Warren, head of England Women science and medicine, and Dr Thamindu Wedatilake, Clinical Lead England Women, discuss the importance of the ECB’s data project, which is used across the international and domestic game as well as the aspirational role science and medicine staff can have on our whole game.

Insight 360, a fresh data-driven approach

Female athletes are underrepresented in all areas of medical research, particularly sports research. There is little historic female-specific data that would inform the training, rehab, and exercise protocols for women athletes and even less data if we look at cricket!

Over the past year, here in the England Women Science and Medicine department, in collaboration with our regional colleagues, we have adopted a fresh data-driven approach to performance management.

The first phase of the project has enhanced and integrated multiple sources of data relating to elite women’s players across the national and regional teams within a secure data structure. A dashboard system with custom role-based views correlates data across medical, coaching, physiological, wellness and competitive match scenarios.

Management staff across the multidisciplinary team’s departments and players are now able to improve the range of data-led decisions, from optimising player schedules and training to minimising injury risk and accelerating recovery. We are also able to start to answer some of our key performance questions.  

The programme focusses on health and performance which helps monitor aspects such as players’ physical performance, workload, wellbeing and menstrual cycle. It also integrates existing GPS Technology which means physical demand can be monitored and training tailored accordingly.

A big plus is the fact there is also a player facing app. Each squad member can see their own data, input into their own plans which is paramount and, from an England Women perspective, correlates to our coaches’ philosophy of empowering players and adopting an individualised approach.  

Overall, this project is enabling us to use data in new and innovative ways, improving our holistic support of our players. Not only is it assisting us to make better decisions, but is also giving us better insight into the women’s game to support future generations of female cricketers.

Why our Science and Medicine staff are leading industry role models

Sports science and medicine is a traditionally male space.  Research has indicated the lack of female role models in the sector can perpetuate the cycle of gender bias.

As leaders in an international female sport, we have a responsibility to advocate for equity within our sector at England/international level as well as the regional space.

There is still, in some quarters, a perception that working at the top end of men’s professional sport is the pinnacle for those in our industry which is something we are trying to change.

We have world-leading female practitioners in our department who are at the top of their game. Helen Greenway-Shipman is the first female strength and conditioning coach working with our England national team while Dr Pumi Senaratne is leading the charge in improving female athlete health in our cricketing population. We also now have good female representation across our domestic game which is great to see.

Building belief in staff is as important as ensuring the pay and opportunities are tangible. We know these people are experts in their fields and we truly believe we have the best in class working in our women’s programme. Retaining these people and ensuring those looking to join are inspired and empowered is key.

We want to ensure future generations of practitioners do not perceive the underrepresentation of women as normal. In the future, gender equity in elite sport, men’s or women’s, should be the norm.  

We feel our team members working across the science and medicine department can be a real inspiration for staff, players and across the whole game.