WHAT IS MILANLAB?
MilanLab is a high-tech interdisciplinary scientific research centre owned by AC Milan. The Laboratory is located within the Milanello Sports Centre and has been operating since March 2002. MilanLab provides technological support within the decision-making process, with the ultimate aim being to optimise the well-being of the individual. Science and technology, business expertise and individual experiences are combined in an innovative way to achieve a systemic approach to the different aspects that contribute to wellness.
MilanLab provides information for future management using data collected over past years. When it comes to planning, MilanLab bases its methodological progress on the logical, consistent, regular and constant storage of data. This allows the analysis system to create and foster its own method, identifying the algorithms that supervise and regulate the well-being of the individual. Therefore, with respect to each individual subject, the Lab is able to define its unique and non-duplicabile history through the numbers. Everyone has and goes through an exclusively personal story: MilanLab's strength lies in identifying this uniqueness. The regular and systematic monitoring of the various elements that contribute to the well-being of the individual is therefore decisive.
THE MISSION AND WORK METHODOLOGY
The mission of MilanLab is to optimise the efforts of the individual who wishes to achieve predefined sports and/or wellness goals. The Laboratory structures its work protocol through an in-depth analysis of the person in their current state. Arising from the first analysis, a work path is established which aims to help the subject reach the maximum level of well-being and/or performance through follow-up appointments aimed at monitoring changes and constantly making the necessary adjustments. The heart of the project is the test circuit, which is subject to continuous evolutionary changes depending on the advance of technology and expertise. This circuit is able to acquire the subject’s data, thus allowing their current state of well-being to be determined. The analysis carried out is based on three levels of acquisition: our state of health can be seen in terms of the balance that exists between three basic factors, which in turn can be considered as the sides of an equilateral triangle. One side corresponds to our structural condition, another refers to biochemical aspects, while the third relates to our psychological condition. If any of the sides of the equilateral triangle are weakened, an overall imbalance will ensue and therefore our state of well-being will be compromised in some way. MilanLab is based on a vision of health understood as a state of total physical, social and mental well-being that depends on the balance between the three main functional levels mentioned above.
Each of these levels - in the organisation of MilanLab - is represented by an area of intervention. Thus, a numerical identity card for the current status of the analysed subject is deduced. A knowledge management system then allows for the distribution of information regarding the condition of each subject, therefore identifying which types of elements should be highlighted and which interventions are to be made in order to maintain the highest level of well-being. Every element, every activity of the subject (from personal data to lifestyle, from nutrition to daily habits) contribute to the enrichment of their personal database, as well as that of the entire MilanLab system. This mechanism allows the Laboratory to constantly examine causes and effects, thus establishing related correlations and making it possible to objectively pinpoint reasons why positive and negative events occur.
MILANLAB FOR ACMILAN
With the health of individual players in mind, MilanLab studies and identifies the guidelines relating to the optimal management of athletes. Prevention and a systemic approach are the key principles on which the MilanLab structure is based. Prevention, understood as a series of actions taken to protect against a future ailment, is accompanied by a systemic approach that refers to a widely accepted concept, also found in the World Health Organization’s definition: “Health is a state of total physical, mental and social well-being and not the mere absence of disease or infirmity”. According to this vision, a society, a football team, a person, an athlete are single "integrated systems" composed of different subsystems whose interaction and efficiency determine the overall balance. The overall performance is therefore given by the integration of the specific subsystems of which it is composed. From the systemic approach, we can deduce the interdisciplinary nature of the MilanLab research project, which requires combining knowledge from different disciplines: motor sciences, biochemical and biomechanical sciences, psychology, cognitive sciences, chiropractic, neuroscience, information technology, complex analysis systems (neural networks, business intelligence). Before MilanLab, there was no explanation why certain frequent events would keep happening to players. By studying the changes in the "norm" of each individual, on the other hand, infomation is now available to create knowledge. This is transmittable "know how" that is to be shared with all the experts working with and for the subject being analysed.
MILANLAB FOR THE FIRST TEAM
MilanLab was created with the aim of optimising the team's results by acting as a technological support structure for the decision-making process. The intention is to help the fitness, medical and technical staff and the management of the Club in handling human resources. Active since 2002 and strongly supported by the Club, MilanLab has as its basis a simple but strategic concept that inspires the entire methodology: well-being. The psychophysical integrity of its players is the most precious asset of a football club: the performance of the team on the field and the sporting and economic success of the Club depend on this. Therefore,it is crucial to monitor, measure and control the various elements in a systematic and rigorous way in order to contribute to the well-being of the individual athlete, who is subjected to strong stresses during the football season, both during periods of intense competition and during training and recovery phases. MilanLab's mission is to optimise the team's results through an information technology system, which allows the psychophysical conditions of each individual player and the team as a whole to be monitored at all times. The aim is, therefore, to identify which types of elements should be highlighted and which interventions should be made in order to enable the athlete to reach levels of maximum performance. In this way, MilanLab contributes to the implementation of corporate know-how and offers valuable support for the decision-making process. The athlete's health and well-being also coincide with a better ability to fully exploit their potential and a greater readiness to adapt to the rhythms of competitions and training. The research method applied by MilanLab consists in constantly and continuously measuring the data of the individual areas, in integrating them, and in developing specific protocols to maintain or restore the balance and therefore the efficiency of the system. In order to obtain significant results, it was necessary to create a system capable of collecting and processing large amounts of information. The data collection and processing system is implemented by means of specific technology capable of "learning" through the processing of the "stored" data in relation to performance outcomes, the individual athlete’s profile of excellence and injuries or moments of deterioration. The aim is to be able to better determine and isolate the factors that contribute to the occurrence of particular "risk events" for the player in a systematic way and therefore be able to intervene in light of reliable and controllable forecasts.
MILANLAB FOR THE YOUTH SECTOR
There are currently 11 Youth Sector Teams (from the "Pulcini" category up to the "Primavera" side), consisting of over 250 children aged between 10 and 18 years old. The Milan Youth Sector is one of the most important organisations in terms of youth football in Italy and all over the world. The importance of this project with young players lies in the Club's desire to educate them not just as players but also as men, developing both technical and moral aspects of the children. Starting from the 2006/07 season, the MilanLab Staff have also been dedicated to the Youth Sector in terms of the young players’ physical development. How their growth is progressing is monitored through regular check-ups that provide information relating to their well-being. In addition to this, the data collected is also used in the research to build a numerical and statistical model for the Club which can be of use in scouting operations.
MILANLAB AND THE MILAN JUNIOR PROJECT
The collaboration between MilanLab and Milan Junior is a key part of the Club’s aim of applying the Lab’s methodologies across all levels of the Club. The work of the Lab is both important and innovative, and contributes towards the activities of Milan Junior, both in relation to scouting activities as well as in the safeguarding of the well-being of the young players. Starting from the 2010/11 season, MilanLab strategically inserted itself into the world of AC Milan Soccer Schools with an "integrated" project aimed at further enhancing the Rossoneri Italian Football Academies, which are so widely distributed. All of the knowledge and experience gained by MilanLab through their work with the First Team is now made available to the Soccer Schools in order to guarantee a high standard and the all-round excellence of the project. A team of specialists has been specially set up to help the individual parties on a daily basis with the development of their work. More specifically, “MilanLab for the Milan Junior project” was launched, through a comprehensive set of equipment including a series of measuring instruments and a computer. The kit enables the collection of data on different levels (physical, dynamic and energy measurements amongst others) and the consequent analysis of the data by the MilanLab Staff. The data stored by the new equipment is used for various purposes:
- To allow the database to be expanded;
- To allow in-depth analysis of the information on potential players that the Club can then sign, thus enhancing the scouting activity carried out by the Soccer Academies;
- To help monitor the well-being of young athletes through information. The scientific and objective indicators found by MilanLab through the reading of the data provide an insight into how some potentially negative and dangerous actions can cause damage to the health of young players in the future.