James Hird and Mark Thompson analysing quarter time statistics

Statistics and Technology in the Modern Game

Friday, November 18, 2011

By Peter Schwab
AFL Director of Coaching

Statistics and technology become more and more important for football as it assists us as coaches and players to evaluate performance more accurately.

Statistics are about getting the right information to assist you in making decisions. To help identify strengths and identify problems, but more important to assist you to find solutions.

The daily information people see – data system – in their regular working life is often at odds with reality. The statistics you rely on in football cannot be at odds with reality

It is also said that; “The key to changing an organisation’s mental agenda is to change the data that routinely crosses their desk.”

So what does that mean for football statistics?

What statistics (information of on field data) do you as coach believe will indicate a successful implementation of your game plan?

  1. Can you narrow those statistics down to the essentials?
  2. Who do you trust to develop and deliver you this information?
  3. Do the statistics you use help shape behaviours on-field?

One thing you must do is eliminate those statistics which you do not need, but more vital is be sure you know what you need. So ask yourself:

  1. What statistics are critical on match day?
  2. What statistics are critical post-match?
  3. What statistics are critical to provide feedback to players?
  4. What statistics are critical to knowing opponents?

Technology in its fundamental way is there to solve a problem or perform a specific function. Like statistics, technology must work for you, so it needs to:

  1. Improve performance
  2. Save time
  3. Be  automated
  4. Create  crucial data

Getting the right technology should help you work out your problems; help with your analysis and present information in a better way to people so they are clear about what is required for a better performance.

From 1998-2006 Champion Data, the major statistical data supplier to the AFL football industry based their statistical success model around the following:

  1. Sound Defence
  2. Healthy %
  3. Superior field kicking
  4. Midfield domination – advancing more than opponents
  5. Capacity to kick goals within 30 meter radius and prevent opponents doing likewise
  6. Supply chain – I50m entries  and scoring efficiency
  7. Contested possessions compared to opponents

Ted Hopkins –founder of Champion Data and now TED Ratings -- believes the critical statistical factor in AFL level football now needs to be measured and understood by answering the following question:

How much does individual and team disposal benefit the team?

Simply answered, and hopefully measured, is which players can hurt the opposition with good disposal? Which players cannot? Which opponents can and cannot?

Whatever you use as a measure of performance from a statistical or technology point of view will be a personal thing, but it must:

Convey accurate data which can be acted on to allow you to improve your performance both individually and collectively.

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