Game intelligence: quantifying movement intelligence in football

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Technical and tactical analysis in football has historically been based on in-game events such as passes, shots and tackles. This approach offers an insight into what happened, but in terms of explaining why it happened it has obvious limitations. Too often analysis credits outcome but overlooks process.

Managers, coaches and scouts are able to recognise the factors that cause a particular event (e.g. player positioning) with the naked eye, but until recently it has been difficult to do the same using performance data.

By evaluating football as a complex dynamic system, Game Intelligence uses non-linear tools to capture the behaviours of players and understand how those behaviours develop as the on-field environment changes.

The Game Intelligence framework is comprised of eight unique metrics that deliver insights into the use of space and player interaction on the field.

Defensive Balance: Automatic recognition of imbalances created by the attacking team

Numerical Dominance: Identify overloads and underloads

Defensive Press: Pressure applied by a defender to the attacker in possession

Player Vision: Number of passing options available

Player Attraction: Number of defenders synchronised to an attackers movement

Player Space: Estimated region of the field a player has ownership over

Time On Ball: Time of nearest defender to intercept attacker

Offensive Channel: Quality of access an attacker has to goal

These metrics have several key applications for managers, scouts and coaches. In terms of player-specific uses, Game Intelligence can serve as an advanced player scouting tool by providing unique information on the ways in which players use space, or how effective they are at exploiting overloads and underloads. The data can also highlight the type of systems a player is best suited to, helping clubs to make more informed decisions regarding player recruitment.

Game Intelligence can also be used to enhance teams’ performance analysis and opposition scouting processes. By analysing the effectiveness of their pressing, defensive balance, or creation of space, teams can better understand how they are executing their game plans. Similarly, Game Intelligence metrics can highlight opposition strengths and weaknesses that aren’t apparent in traditional KPIs. This allows teams to be more prepared on match day by being aware of the strategic tendencies of opponents at a deeper level of detail.

A valuable tool for managers and coaches, the Game Intelligence framework offers league and competition segmentation to assist with team selection and match preparation. Highlighting how different the technical and tactical proclivities of different competitions, Game Intelligence can inform team strategy and ensure that managers select the most appropriate players based on likely patterns of play. This information can also support more efficient scouting operations and ensure that clubs send scouts to the competitions best aligned with their own.

A unique analytical approach to a key strategic area, Game Intelligence is a novel contribution to football analytics and can provide genuine competitive advantage for professional clubs.

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