AtTheMatch team talk with OptaPro
What are the main benefits of using your data?
The depth and detail of Opta data can help with understanding the game in a way that perhaps we can’t do with our eyes or our memory. We are collecting (live) over 1,500 actions per game, so it’s entirely reasonable that some parts will slip past a human eye/memory.
Data can help provide a reference point to help quantify performance levels. For example, if a player is creating a certain number of chances for his team-mates in a season, we can use our database to compare that against the league average, other players in his position (either at the same club or rival clubs) and how his performance ranks against previous seasons.
When and why did sports data become important for stakeholders in sport?
From a club’s perspective, there are players all over the world that might be of interest and there’s simply not enough resource (time or financial) to watch and analyse every player. Data can support the recruitment process at this stage, and help a club to identify an initial list of targets ahead of further analysis.
What role has social media played in the development of sports data?
From an OptaPro perspective, we have used social media to share examples and applications of in-depth analysis that would be interesting and useful to club analysts. We’ll also look engage with the online analytics community (bloggers). The analysis produced by people not working in clubs or mainstream media is often of a very high standard, and where possible we will look to promote and showcase that work. In recent years, we have seen more people move into statistical analysis roles within clubs. Through our Twitter account – along with other activities such as our OptaPro Analytics Forum – we try provide a platform in which high quality analysis can be presented.
How has data changed the way sport is analysed?
Data has allowed us to produce deeper insights on understanding what is happening, what has happened or what may be likely to happen in the future.The introduction of more advanced metrics has helped. For example, we used to only consider assists important despite their reliance on the finisher. Now we are able to calculate the quality of a chance created and can aim to quantify the expectancy of that chance resulting in a goal; a lay-off from 35 yards is of course different to a through-ball for a striker, and these metrics acknowledge that.
How do you ensure sports data is reliable and collected to the same standard?
Our analysts go through a robust training process; it’s a unique skill that not many can actually do.Not only do they need the skills to be able to capture the data in real time, but they’ll also need a high level of knowledge when it comes to football; being able to identify players, distinguish between a pass and a through ball, or a clearance or a long pass for example. To help with this, we have a clear list of definitions that are consistent across the world, meaning we capture data consistently across all leagues.
OptaPro works directly with over 200 professional teams and federations across the globe providing analytical support and cutting edge resources to support on-field performance.
OptaPro is a brand within Perform Content, a division on Perform Group.Click here to stay up to date with AtTheMatch