Friday, 18 June 2010

Visualising Action on the Football Pitch

The Football World Cup virus has of course spread to all the mobile platforms, foremost the iPhone and iPad. Numerous apps promis the most up to date info and the most detailed analysis. In an earlier post I was interested in tracking of activity on the football pitch and came across these different methods of analysis. The big sports broadcaster are using a palett of software helping them with analysis as well as visualisation. The visualisation part has become important during these very formal and serious debates around the table. Usually the graphics put in to the video are based on tracking information derived from different cameras. There aren't currently physical tracking technologies in place, as for example RFID, GPS or Bluetooth. The producers must be very satisfied with the visual tracking tools. Tools are Piero, Visual Sports. A nice visualisation of pitch activity also is supplied by the New York Times including time slider allowing you to scroll through the 90 minutes dynamically.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shot taken from Total Football 2010 iPhone app, analysis of the game Switzerland 1-0 Spain, all passes.

If you are keen to get up to date information on matches and analysis where ever you go and where ever you are, you need a app fot the iPhone or your new iPad. A really cool on eis the Total Football 2010 developed by Colm McMullan. It provides you with all the details and infos you want to know. I was particularly interested in the visualisation of spatial activity on the pitch. How do players stand and where is the action taking place. Here you can get detailed info down to which player took a throw in where, when, in which direction and how far - Amazing! With the dynamic slider all the information can be specifically focused on a specific period of the game or over the whole 90 min period.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shot taken from Total Football 2010 iPhone app, analysis of the game Switzerland 1-0 Spain, all passes in the attack third.

In te context of the game Switzerland Spain, the analysis of the spatial pattern are telling a lot about the narrative of the game. If you look at the spatial distribution of the passes by Spain that covers two third of the pitch towards the opposition goal witha strong focus around the Swiss box. The Swiss passes on the other hand got stuck in the center of the field with a high percentage of red, meaning failed passes.
The Swiss goal that decided the match was a real surprise just a few minutes into the second half. It was one of the long balls in to the Spanish half surprising the Spanish defence and muddling the ball in to to the net.
The strategy of the Swiss team to focus on closing the box with every player and simply not letting the Spanish side get to have a got at the net worked out and left this clear spatial pattern of a maximum of activity just outside the Swiss box.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shot taken from Total Football 2010 iPhone app, analysis of the game Switzerland 1-0 Spain, all shots.

The data feed comes through a service from Opta Sports. They are using a specifically developed software to analyse the games. However surprisingly it is all done manually. Two people are watching a football game. Each one focuses on one team and records every single move. The actions are coded and the operator also registers with the mouse the location and direction on the pitch via visual input. Basically this way they record the ball movement. It could be summarised as a linear recording of the balls movement over 90 minutes.

1 comment:

Carl said...

Wonderful information about the context of the game Switzerland Spain, and the facts are also great to read.


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