Big Data for World Cup and Sports
Germany’s winning at the World Cup has been often analyzed and the World Cup itself attracts a lot of viewers. Yet, there is something that many people might not be aware of.
The German Football Association (or in other words DBF) worked together with the German software company SAP to develop an application called Match Insights. This application analyses data about the German team members and their opponents with the help of data derived from their on-field performance. The resulting simulations can be viewed on tablet or smartphones, and can be used during pre-match preparations to increase the performance of players.
So, how does it work? Every player has a unique identifier and their movements are tracked digitally using cameras, while the pitch itself is transformed into a grid. Data derived this way can be transformed into key performance indicators, like movement speed, directional changes, number of touches etc. For instance, the German team knew it had to increase its passing speed prior to the game if it wanted to win. Players’ biometric data and the opponents’ play history with tactics were analyzed.Germany’s team was one of the first ones to understand the value that can be derived from aggregating Big Data.
The DBF is using SAP Match in an early adoption phase, but SAP plans to open up its app to other clubs and football federations later on as well. Traditionally, SAP specializes in making business operations more efficient.
Indeed, in The Huffington post R. Attias writes: ‘According to head coach Joachim Loew, this analysis was instrumental in Germany’s World Cup triumph.’ So, in a way we can say that the data revolution is also affecting sports, and is replacing more traditional analysis, like drawing out tactics on paper. Players can now use only their smartphones or ipads and basically train at any time and anywhere.
I think it is an interesting way of being able to use so many data on each player in the team and also about the opponents. So many data points can be combined, and apparently it can be quite useful as the German example suggests.
In addition, you can use this technology not only for better trainings, but you can even make this information available to sports journalism and the fans. One example of this is the stats.nba.com (The NBA’s statistics site), which got over 20 million views. Here, you can for instance find information on points, steals or the shooting percentage of Kevin Durant to that of Milwaukee Bucks, and the type of pass a player uses most. Though, that is only a supplement and it is not the main focus of the technology.
Nevertheless, sport stays the same, and in order to win you have to train and work hard!!! Indeed, there is no substitute for hard work in my opinion, but now with SAP teams can work also smart to become the best they can be.
What is your take on this issue? Let me know.