In the modern world, there is data everywhere, Petabytes of it are produced every day and data analytics and how data can be used have dominated headlines recently with manipulation of data by AI being the focus of political journalists for its use in elections. Sports data has proven to be increasingly important with coaches and managers trying to get the edge on their opponents by being smarter than them. In this blog, we’re going to look at one system of data gathering – Prozone.
What is Prozone?
Prozone is a system that uses eight cameras situated around a sports field that tracks every movement and records it into a software system that then outputs the data as a two-dimensional pitch view with positions on the field shown at 0.1-second intervals. The data collected can show everything from individual player movements to heatmaps to where touches of the ball were made.
What can Prozone be used for?
Prozone outputs data, but the data has to be analysed before it becomes useful to coaches. Examples of usages of Prozone:
- Managers taking over at a new club – Coaches can use Prozone to analyse a tam before they tale control. They can check how hard players are working, any tactical problems and a lot more with Prozone. It can offer better data than watching hours worth of video footage
- Scouting players – You can analyse individual player data to see if the player will fit into the system deployed by clubs. This can save hours and scouting trips, which can save money for clubs with smaller budgets.
- Scouting the opposition – Prozone not only gives you analysis of your own players. You can use it to work out positions the opposition are likely to take up on the field, where they are likely to put the ball from set pieces and who plays most passes.
- Show how hard your players are working – Data available includes distance covered, passes attempted and completed, areas where players cover etc. Prozone has shown that if you outwork your opponents by covering more distance at speed s above 5.5m/s you are 80% more likely to win. It has also shown areas of the pitch called positions of maximum opportunity. Coaches can coach their players to take up these positions in various situations to maximise their chances of scoring. This is particularly useful for set plays.
Prozone is used by nearly all professional clubs in top tier football today, and the analysis is useful to most managers. It has had its critic though including Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas Boas, who channelled former Brondby and Aberdeen Manager Ebbe Skovdhal who quipped “statistics are like miniskirts – they show you a lot but keep the important part hidden.”
Ebbe Skovdhal might have a point, though statistics are useful, they show that the favourite only wins 55% of the time and that 44% of goals are fortuitous. Players score goals from positions Prozone’s stats would say it’s unlikely to score from. So, despite Prozone being illuminating in the data it can show, it still can’t add metrics to feats of unbelievable skill that beats the odds.