NETWORK THEORY CAN BE APPLIED IN TECHNICAL DECISION MAKING
Applying network theory to football is simply one more method to obtain additional information about a football match.
As we mentioned in the previous article, when the black vests worn by the first football team caught the attention of the press in 2017, Barça Innovation Hub was already in the process to further develop the EPTS WIMU PRO, from the Almeria-based company RealTrack Systems, on a joint development strategy between the company and the club.
After the first year working together, the device had become more precise, and all that remained to be polished was the software for collecting and processing the metrics. From the beginning, RealTrack was willing to share its RAW data with the club. Although this has started to become more common nowadays, these companies were quite reluctant to provide this information at the start of the EPTS revolution. This is always a problem for the technical staff because there is no universal way to correct the raw signal, to minimize errors. Each company uses its own method, and the coaches don’t know how the data has been processed before they receive it. RealTrack Systems was completely transparent in delivering its RAW data from the start.
The club also works with five different sports – football, basketball, handball, indoor football, and roller hockey. Although as team sports they need specific common information, there are also aspects that the EPTS has to measure in a specialised way for each one of them. All this was taken into account when developing the software that complements WIMU PRO itself, the SVIVO and SPRO applications.
SVIVO is designed to monitor live the workload, while the training session is taking place, and coaches can customize the set of measurements they consider most optimal for each session. Thus, adapting it to specific situations, such as recovering a player who returns from an injury, or monitoring the return to competition after a holiday. Technically, it is possible to use the EPTS during a match, FIFA allows it as long as the referee does not oppose to it and the device is not visible, although, in the case of the first football team at FC Barcelona, they usually do not wear it. When this occurs, the information is obtained from the video footage.
Once the training session is over, SPRO is used to analyse all the information collected by WIMU PRO. By choosing parameters, each move can be studied down to the smallest detail, with the goal to find out how and what result was obtained. It is also possible to compare, when necessary, data from different sessions to identify patterns, history, player profiles and their evolution. In case an injured player is in recovery, electromyography data can be added, as the device allows the connection with other external devices, allowing to incorporate data which can later be used for the analysis.
The utility of SPRO is not being used by FC Barcelona’s coaches nor the club’s data analysis department. This utility allows synchronising the EPTS data and the video footage. This feature can help display statistics for the TV viewer, with valuable information about the plays during the match. This could make WIMU PRO a reliable tool to enhance fan engagement. This is an initiative that has not yet been implemented, but the widespread use of these devices by first teams around the world opens up new opportunities.
Last but not least, Wimu is complemented by a cloud data system. It allows access to any member of the technical staff, to consult the history sessions, generates custom reports, and study trends and patterns from anywhere. It also allows the user to share their observations with other staff members, launch queries, and warn of any risks or unforeseen advantages to make use of.
This story does not end here, as we will continue to keep on integrating cooperative ecosystems that are beneficial to all parties.
Although there are several studies on this topic, many of them have analyzed these demands by looking at just a few variables or using very broad timeframes. A new study completed by physical trainers from F.C. Barcelona has analyzed several of these details more closely.
The understanding of the modifying variables of the game, based on the degrees of freedom.
Sports Analytics has grown exponentially thanks to IT sciences and it also encompasses other subareas (e.g. sports sciences, behavior sciences, medicine or data visualization) in addition to statistics with a focus that is more tactical and sports performance related.