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Springerplus. 2016 Aug 24;5(1):1410. doi: 10.1186/s40064-016-3108-2. eCollection 2016.

Big data and tactical analysis in elite soccer: future challenges and opportunities for sports science.

Author information

1
Institute of Cognition and Team/Racket Sport Research, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany.

Abstract

Until recently tactical analysis in elite soccer were based on observational data using variables which discard most contextual information. Analyses of team tactics require however detailed data from various sources including technical skill, individual physiological performance, and team formations among others to represent the complex processes underlying team tactical behavior. Accordingly, little is known about how these different factors influence team tactical behavior in elite soccer. In parts, this has also been due to the lack of available data. Increasingly however, detailed game logs obtained through next-generation tracking technologies in addition to physiological training data collected through novel miniature sensor technologies have become available for research. This leads however to the opposite problem where the shear amount of data becomes an obstacle in itself as methodological guidelines as well as theoretical modelling of tactical decision making in team sports is lacking. The present paper discusses how big data and modern machine learning technologies may help to address these issues and aid in developing a theoretical model for tactical decision making in team sports. As experience from medical applications show, significant organizational obstacles regarding data governance and access to technologies must be overcome first. The present work discusses these issues with respect to tactical analyses in elite soccer and propose a technological stack which aims to introduce big data technologies into elite soccer research. The proposed approach could also serve as a guideline for other sports science domains as increasing data size is becoming a wide-spread phenomenon.

KEYWORDS:

Big data; Deep learning; Machine learning; Neural networks; Quantified self; Simulation; Spatiotemporal data; Sports analytics; Sports performance

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