It’s one of soccer’s most enduring truisms - player recruitment is the key to building a successful team.
This was as true in the early days of soccer’s commercialisation as it is in the hyper-competitive global industry it is today. The need to get the most appropriate players in, with the right skillset and right personal characteristics, within your club’s budget and fitting into your manager’s style of play was, and still is, a vital component of creating the conditions for winning.
So the challenge is the same, but the scope of the challenge has grown massively. In the past, a manager’s contact book, and his knowledge of players within his local league would be a critical part of his skillset. It would often be the manager travelling up and down the country to look at players, then the same guy taking the team’s training the next day. Being ‘able to spot a player’ would be a feather in the cap of any successful manager.
Then the horizons started to widen as the game started to internationalise. It was no longer possible to create a shortlist from players that were known to one or two people within the organisation. The longlist had grown from local, to national, to continental, and now is truly global. The pool of players to consider had grown exponentially.
Alongside this, the amount of information about players inside a club was mounting. Training sessions were transformed in big data gathering exercises, and technology was enabling data capture at a staggering rate. Every movement tracked, every single angle covered. No stone is left unturned in the quest for an edge.
So no longer was it possible to understand exactly how a potential signing would fit into your team’s style of play. The gap in information on the expanded international longlist of possible recruits and members of your own squad was growing. This information blackspot means that the scouting process, and subsequently player recruitment is laden with risk.
It is, however, possible to fill this blackspot with Tracking data. Tracking data gives us detailed insight into every player's positioning and movement on the pitch at all times.
This provides vital context to everything that happens on the pitch, on and off the ball. Tracking data can tell you that a player moved from one location to another, but it can also tell you how quickly, and at what level of intensity. This data set also informs us where every player is positioned on the pitch at the time of every event, such as a pass, providing critical context such as: How many opposition defenders did you take out with the pass? Was the player under pressure when taking the pass? Was the pass a line-breaking one?
The problem, however, is scalable access to this information. The costly install of tracking cameras in every stadium is beyond the reach of all but the richest competitions, and even those with a league-wide tracking deal only enable access to the data to teams within the confines of that league.
This is great news for the performance analysts, but leaves a number of troublesome gaps for those tasked with recruitment of new players.
The discrepancy between the most impactful and risky decisions made by clubs, and the information used to bolster these decisions can be solved by a technology known as Broadcast Tracking. By teaching a machine to watch and analyze a video feed, companies like Sportlogiq have made it possible to produce physical, tactical, and contextual data from every competition around the world - arming recruitment teams with the same level of information about their prospects as they have for their own team.
Every competition with recruitment level interest has event-level data and video feed and every competition with a video feed can be processed by this technology - giving recruitment teams a consistent data set that they can be confident of when producing a shortlist of players of interest.
No one wants, needs, or expects technology to replace the human eye throughout the entire recruitment process. The ability to spot a player is still important, and that skillset will continue to be valued by elite-level soccer clubs. But now this talent can be harnessed more effectively - by ensuring that the starting point is an appropriate one, by ensuring that every player on a shortlist has the key performance indicators that ensure their suitability for your league and your team, before getting too far into the process.
Broadcast Tracking technology makes the world of soccer smaller, while still ensuring you have the widest possible pool of recruits to choose from. And it does it while reducing the risk in your club’s most critical operational process.
To speak to us about how physical, tactical, and contextual event data from Sportlogiq’s Broadcast Tracking technology can help your club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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