Applied science in sport makes strong progress at the third annual edition of EPIC in Mataro

May 12, 2024 | Home News, News, Performance

MATARÓ, MAY 10th – “If 15 years ago, advanced statistics made a full impact on world basketball, now is the time for Applied Science.” That’s how one of the eminent figures in sports studies in Spain and the world, Professor Julio Calleja González from the University of the Basque Country, puts it. His presentation was one of the highlights at the III annual EPIC (ELPA Performance International Congress), held in Mataró and organized by the EuroLeague Players Association. The celebration of this International Congress represents a significant leap forward in the study of sports in general and basketball in particular. The Tecnocampus in the capital of Maresme has taken over from last year’s venue in Cesena, Italy, becoming for the first time in Spain the meeting point for all areas involved in sports performance: physical preparation, nutrition, recovery, sports psychology, and injury prevention. “Until today, the work of teams has been led by technical teams,” emphasizes Jaime Sampaio, Vice Rector of UTAD, Portugal. “Now we have a very attractive future ahead for basketball development.

In total, there were 14 presentations at the Tecnocampus in Mataró with over 400 attendees. The Congress concluded with a roundtable discussion featuring the Managing Director of the Players’ Association, Bostjan Nachbar; former Italian international and EuroLeague champion with Fenerbahçe, Gigi Datome; and Joventut player Andrew Andrews. “We need a group of experts to contribute knowledge in their area to gradually build a puzzle,” explains Francesco Cuzzolin, Director of the Performance Department at Olimpia Milan. “The vision is already completely holistic, and with the empowerment of players, all of this will continue to grow,” adds Sampaio. In addition to Olimpia Milano, this edition featured representatives from three more EuroLeague teams: Baskonia, Efes Istanbul, and Barcelona. Specifically, the Head of Medical Services for the Barcelona basketball section, Jordi Puigdellívol, emphasized that “work teams are large and multidisciplinary. It’s inevitable that I, as a doctor, understand what the physical trainer and physiotherapist are talking about to then reach an agreement with the coach. That’s why congresses like EPIC are so important.”

The future ahead

The data support the need for Science intervention in sports. According to the Head of Medical Services of the EuroLeague, Ignacio Muro, “only 10.7% of players have played all EuroLeague games this season. The figure drops even further if we consider the last two seasons: 7 out of 278, which is barely 2.5% of players.” In fact, all speakers agree that intuition alone is no longer sufficient to make decisions and that there is a need to continue advancing in the application of Science in Sports, especially in injury prevention: “women suffer 3.5 times more cruciate ligament injuries,” warns the medical head of Efes Istanbul, Ugur Dilicikik. “The only question left for me is what scenario we will have in five years,” acknowledges Calleja González. “There are many technological changes happening with the arrival of Artificial Intelligence, and those who adapt best will have a competitive advantage.

Another big question is how Science will be applied beyond the Super Elite. “There are plenty of runners and amateur triathletes who train as much or even more than us and who are also on the same page as us,” notes Puigdellívol. In the same vein, Calleja González points out that “it’s true that someone who lacks technological or economic capacity may not have access to certain resources, but they must understand the concept and how to apply it in their own context.” He illustrates this with an example: “having different types of pillows depending on where you travel or different types of water is within everyone’s reach.”

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