Soccer technology 2

Posted on October 11, 2007. Filed under: Technology |

Continuing on from my earlier post about soccer ball technology I wanted to explore some other high-tech advances that are going on behind the scenes of the modern game. The areas of match analysis, game statistics and player performance monitoring may have a limited impact on most followers of the world game but they are becoming invaluable to coaches and technical staff of major clubs.

There are basic systems that analyse match footage and can provide statistics such as the number of tackles and passes, etc. The more advanced systems use GPS tracking for real-time positional and movement data. Later on (post-match), computer tracking is added and this can be complemented with a video analysis montage system. The analyst can then jump to areas of interest very quickly and view the footage for that action. Some systems can positions and track movements using an autonomous vision system based on cameras installed around the pitch.

Research is being undertaken into some fairly interesting systems. The researcher discusses collecting the following statistics; distance covered, running speed, tasks (such as runs, jumps, interceptions, crosses, passes, touches, throw ins, shots and headers) among other individual actions. Also team performance including channels of ball circulation, possession, turnovers, styles of play, interaction zones, game pace, etc.

This level of statistical information could allow highly accurate virtual matches and scenarios to be played out using real data on real players. Coaches would be able to set up various formations, tactics and line-ups to do battle with the their next opponent to see what works best. The processing power of todays hardware could churn through countless simulations and benching a certain player could be backed up with quality data about their current performance or perhaps a simulation where they aren’t quite suitable for the selected formation/strategy.

It’s not the most difficult task for current image recognition technology to collect this data. A background of all green grass and players in distinctive colours (although the sheer number of objects to track and camera positioning about the field does affect the accuracy). Add some physical trackers to the players and ball for precise position/velocity data and tie this into the system for much better certainty?

I’m not sure how precise global positioning systems are at resolving the exact location of a player but I have noticed after some televised matches they sometimes display the distance covered of a particular player over the course of the match which could come from GPS data (but is more likely from camera technology as global positioning systems can be quite bulky). I dare say that soon enough, incredibly small global positioning systems will be available. In Australia, they show the heart rate of players during AFL (Australian-Rules Football League, think Gaelic football with an egg-shaped ball!) matches so it would be interesting to see that in soccer. It may already be in use during training but I haven’t heard mention of it in actual matches.

Personally I feel that these advances could do a great deal for the modern game. For coaching, training, player development, injury prevention and most importantly, deadly accurate statistics for video games like winning eleven/pro evo soccer! hehe. As for it’s use in real matches, I wouldn’t want the technology to interfere with the game in any way but it should definitely be used to clear up certain situations, such as whether a ball really did cross the goal line when there are hard to call cases. As for monitoring offsides I don’t know if that’s such a good idea unless it can be performed quickly, accurately and seemlessly (certainly not with slow video replays as seen in some other sports!!!).

For more information, check out www.soccerperformance.org which contained a lot of the information in this post.

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[…] Tamir malnick wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptPersonally I feel that these advances could do a great deal for the modern game. For coaching, training, player development, injury prevention and most importantly, deadly accurate statistics for video games like winning eleven/pro evo … […]


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