IT'S TIME WE TALKED ABOUT TRACKING THE BALL

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Technological advancements and newly developed systems made accessible in sport contexts during the last years have completely revolutionized the processes for analysis and interpretation of football performance. Practitioners and sport scientists are reasonably abandoning the traditional approaches which consider either physical (e.g. global positioning systems (GPS)) or technical/tactical related (e.g. match analysis) metrics in isolation and are moving towards integrated models that ultimately offer multi-dimensional insights into match performance. It appears intuitive that such an innovative approach may facilitate a comprehensive understanding of individual players and team performance demands relatively to individual playing positions, playing styles, tactical strategies and continuous changing game scenarios. In fact, the availability of tactically-constrained physical data provides highly contextualized performance indicators whereby practitioners could establish if crucial roles and assignments in a match were fulfilled.

The objective quantification of the situations in which there is an attempt for a goal being scored or conceded clearly relies on the instantaneous “ball zone or position” that is also of value to determine other tactical measures like ”defensive pressure” and “defensive density”.

Moreover, these valuable outcomes enable coaching staffs to effectively translate the match metrics into benchmarks for the day-to-day training planning. Undoubtedly, a contextualized evaluation of whether and to which extent performance objectives are achieved during a match cannot disregard the location and motion of “The ball”. For example, during a match ball control (i.e. possession) represents the only discriminant used to determine when a team plays offensively (i.e. ball in possession) or defensively (i.e. ball out of possession). The same criterion is commonly used among coaches and performance analysts when defining, reporting and classifying offensive (e.g. passes, dribbling) or defensive (e.g. tackles, clearances) performance variables. The precise ball location is also a paramount factor to provide a quantitative representation of the probability of a goal. The objective quantification of the situations in which there is an attempt for a goal being scored or conceded clearly relies on the instantaneous “ball zone or position” that is also of value to determine other tactical measures like ”defensive pressure” and “defensive density”. Similarly, to assess a key predictor of football success, namely defined as “creativity”, individual and team tactical behaviors associated to ball in and out of possession movements as well as ball-related technical actions like dribbling, crossing, passing, or ball transport are collected and rated. Indeed, the implementation of all-encompassing data in professional football pushes the boundaries of data analysis and offers new challenges for data interpretation.


A simple solution to a complex issue

At Track160, we are fully aware of this paradigm shift, and we have developed a system representing the ideal solution to the innovative and integrative approaches lately implemented for football performance analytics. Track160 allows automatically tracking of both players and ball, collecting positional data, and also to simultaneously integrate individual and team technical and tactical key performance variables by time stamping the match video footages, thus optimizing the tactical purpose of the analysis. The complexity of football performance is broken down by advanced deep learning processes and incorporated algorithms which streamline the coding procedures and produce customized comprehensive analysis outputs. Our system can be used to evaluate individual plays over time, to describe efficiency, or compare players with one another. Finally, it can help to investigate questions relating to the influence of various playing systems or tactical behaviors concepts of team success.