Artificial Intelligence in Elite Sports-A Narrative Review of Success Stories and Challenges

doi: 10.3389/fspor.2022.861466.

eCollection 2022.


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Fabian Hammes et al.

Front Sports Act Living.



This paper explores the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in elite sports. We approach the topic from two perspectives. Firstly, we provide a literature based overview of AI success stories in areas other than sports. We identified multiple approaches in the area of Machine Perception, Machine Learning and Modeling, Planning and Optimization as well as Interaction and Intervention, holding a potential for improving training and competition. Secondly, we discover the present status of AI use in elite sports. Therefore, in addition to another literature review, we interviewed leading sports scientist, which are closely connected to the main national service institute for elite sports in their countries. The analysis of this literature review and the interviews show that the most activity is carried out in the methodical categories of signal and image processing. However, projects in the field of modeling & planning have become increasingly popular within the last years. Based on these two perspectives, we extract deficits, issues and opportunities and summarize them in six key challenges faced by the sports analytics community. These challenges include data collection, controllability of an AI by the practitioners and explainability of AI results.


AI usage in sports; SMPA loop; artificial intelligence; elite sports; explainable AI.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Figure 1

Sense-Model-Plan-Act loop (SMPA).

Figure 2

Figure 2

Number of found publications regarding (A) the methodical category, (C) specific sports; mentioned projects by the interviewees regarding (B) the methodical category, (D) specific sports.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Risk, potential and ease of use in sports of the four steps in SMPA loop.


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