How Data and Technology are Changing The World of Football

Published on: 10 January 2019
How Data and Technology are Changing The World of Football
Black Stars use technology in player monitoring

Much has changed from the time matches were started being televised and it was hailed as a technological marvel. Technology has changed every aspect of life, including the way we play sports.

Technological innovations have managed to affect sports as well by assisting the gameplay.

Much of what is happening today in sports would not have been possible if not for technological innovations.

I am propounding the theory that a higher level of technology will give a player or a team an added advantage, but it will surely let them gain some knowledge and perspective about themselves. In football, you see now the number of people associated with each team. Managers, sporting coaches, fitness coaches, technique coaches, medical team, psychologists, and so many more are involved. As football has grown over the years and money has come in huge numbers; it has developed football as a sport and allowed the clubs proceed with anything that would help their team or make them a better one.

You must have heard about the goal-line technology which allows referees to see if the ball really went in. You must have also heard about the spray referees use to mark a spot from where the kick has to be taken, the line of marking vanishes after 10 seconds leaving no trace.

Now let us talk about data, which is the keyword if you are looking to understand how teams are trying to use technology and doing well. We all have heard about Heart Rate Monitoring device which is used in hospitals, but a variant of it also allows managers to understand the level of effort put in the game.

Then there are GPS- like devices wore by players to track movement and accelerometers which help calculate the number distance covered with the average speed. With the data received, nobody had any idea that data scientists and people holding PhDs in rocket science would be one day be associated with football.

There are also people who have PhDs in energy particle physics and people who have been program manager at Microsoft working in the data support team of football clubs. If you have a look, you will not be able to understand how this revolution of data came about. The question is, how does the data recovered from such measures help a team?

The answer lies with the scientists. For example, data scientists capture data of their team and the opposite ones. One can understand which areas the opponent throws numbers in, if they put in more yards and the style of defending. If a coach understands data, he can come about and say I would require this number of player here pressing with this velocity.

EssayWriter4U, a student help company published a case study on the use of data in football. Quoting an excerpt from the case study, “In a free-kick goal scored by Liverpool last year, it was the data scientists who identified that there was a high chance that the opposition’s wall would jump; the player was informed and he scored a free-kick goal with a grounded shot rather than trying to go up-and-down and making his chances low.”

In another scenario against a match with Celtics, data scientists identified the yards the opposite team covered and the areas they attacked. The team knew they could put in more yards and contain the team’s attacking areas. They went on to win by a huge margin. “

Even data scientists know that data is not enough to make a team win as there are many other factors which cannot be attributed enough yet. There are factors of randomness, luck, pitch conditions, and weather too. Jurgen Klopp, when he came to English Premier League wondered how windy the conditions are there and it made the ball move a bit when passed. One cannot count in psychological factors like motivation or the fear of loss in his analysis of data.

Stephan from CDR-Report opines, “There is a lot that goes in with data analysis. A team who lays deep and counters with long balls will use data analysis much differently than a team who builds up slowly and presses intensively. Data can be analyzed to understand space creation and exploitation, to understand how one player passes and goes into space search. Lionel Messi is found to create much more space by walking or jogging than other players who run in the hard yards. “

SAP has gone ahead to be associated with many football entities and sold them data-driven solutions. These platforms include Video Cockpit where the players could understand the depths of matches played and playing style of the opposition. It went on to upload in Player Dashboard where people could write and receive comments regarding each other.

What it did was allowed the players to self-evaluate and talk to the manager regarding the gameplay. It also allows the players to provide their insights of the match or gameplay. PaperDoers, which has experts of SAP available with them, included this in a case study for students looking to work with their queries on SAP execution.

We now understand how well data can be used to study the way a team plays and iron out any inefficiency. It can be used in many ways; it all depends on the data scientists to analyze any way they want to. You can ask websites like ThanksForTheHelp for a number of student papers published on data-driven solutions in sports. Data applications in sports are a hot topic at the moment that interests many people to be a part of it.