Sunday, April 11, 2021

Football statistics: “Vests even prevent injuries” – ZAP


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The present and the future of numbers, from the perspective of Hernâni Ribeiro. In Portugal there is still no massive use of statistical data in football.

In 10 or 15 years, each club will have someone focused only on statistics. This was one of the ideas left by Hernâni Ribeiro, one of the founders of Goal Point, a company focused on the collection and analysis of football-related data.

In an interview with Vasco Samouco, the data scientist highlighted top examples, essentially from English football, in the use of statistics in football: “The analysis of the data influences even the game model of the Liverpool and the way each player plays. At the Brentford and no Central Jutland, data are the cornerstones of these clubs’ growth. And they are successful, they have reached levels that they would not reach if they had a more traditional management ”.

In Portugal there is still no massive use of statistics in football. A distancing linked mainly to “the lack of vision of who runs the clubs, ”believes Hernâni Ribeiro, who nevertheless sees interest and curiosity rising, on the part of the Portuguese clubs. “Other people are suspicious”, on the other hand. This interest grows because some club officials begin to notice that, through these statistics, they are able to reach the same conclusions but with another type of analysis and more quickly: “They realize that they can save a lot of time in their analysis and focus on other details ”.

What is talking about statistics today?

Hernâni commented that, for a long time, talking about statistics was talking about historical data, using facts with little context. “And there are still people with these addictions, you hear them at press conferences,” he warned. But in recent years companies have appeared that have dedicated themselves to collecting statistical data on the game itself and the volume of data has increased: “Nowadays, when it comes to statistics, I like to believe that we have already talked about different things, related to the game itself ”.

What do these in-depth analyzes of team and player numbers allow? Goal Point co-founder replies: “Studying teams allows identify behaviors standardized on teams, players, coaches and allows you to better analyze a game and better predict the outcome of a game ”.

Big data and injuries

Among the most frequent expressions and the technical terms most used in this context, there is the big data: “It is an expression that is very much in vogue but it is nothing more than the use of data in large volumes. New tools and technological developments have improved our work and the storage of data “, explained the expert, who sometimes dispensed with using terms that seem very complicated:” We try to make the language complex to make what is easy more complex. But maybe there is the mistake of shutting ourselves in our cocoon when we use those words. THE language is an important part“.

Hernâni Ribeiro thinks that one of the most interesting points of this new method of work is related to injury prevention: “The biometric and physical data of the players, all the details about vests, the use of vests, the type of vests, even the legalization of vests… All of this allows for an immensity of physical data that, if used well, can leave alerts about the risk of injuries ”.

Human relationship with numbers

Human capacity will never be the same as that of numbers in terms of storage. THE human brain doesn’t keep everything, our memory is limited: “During a game, we heard someone say ‘this player is unhappy today, he has not yet hit a pass’: you will see the statistics and see that that player has hit 80 percent of the passes he has made. If that happens in a game, imagine when we analyze several seasons ”.

And the human eye is always related to the elaboration of numbers. Does human perception tend to lose importance? According to Hernâni: “It is not desirable to have coaches from statistics, or robot trainers. That would take a lot out of the emotional side of the game. Machines can help with decisions, they can leave suggestions, even during games; but I think you will never have a machine making the final decision. However, there may be someone up there on the bench saying that the machine is leaving a suggestion and then the coach takes that information and makes the decision ”.

Financial aid

One of the great advantages of statistics is saving money when buying players, added the data scientist: “Betting on statistical analysis allows spend less money on players that can be as good as the most expensive ones. You find value and talent before others ”.

Nuno Teixeira Nuno Teixeira, ZAP //


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