Over my two year course of analyzing/researching team performance in soccer I’ve come across a number of general issues I have with modern day statistics in this game and think there is room for improvement.
That’s not to say most of the current statistics have weaknesses – they don’t; the majority of them have function and purpose but in considering recent discussions with others at the World Conference on Science and Soccer, plus my own analyses and that of others I sense (think and feel) there needs to be a better way to answer this issue.
Sometimes what doesn’t happen on the pitch has more value than what does happen. And my previous article entitled with that phrase is the impetus for this follow on article. Another article previously written (Hurried Passes) also attempts to capture more background on these potential improvements.
- Much of what doesn’t happen in this game is as much, if not more critical, to the outcome/result, as what does happen.
- Question – Is there a way to deductively or intuitively measure what doesn’t happen? I think so.
- Question – Do you feel or think it would be better to know the consistency of a striker scoring from ‘open shots’ versus a ‘hindered’ (not open) shots? This gives you two separate attacking data points for strikers – their success rate in scoring goals from open shots as well as their success rate in scoring goals from ‘hindered shots’. I do.
- Question – Do you feel or think it would be better to know the successful consistency of a team/ individual player being able to make an ‘open pass’ or a ‘hindered pass’? This gives you two separate attacking data points for everyone – their success rate in making open passes as well as their success rate in making passes while being ‘hindered’. I do.
- Question – Do you feel or think it would be more helpful to better quantify and qualify team and individual defending statistics that can be used to support what did and didn’t happen? I do.
- If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions please read on…
Potential new statistics for soccer (football):
- Open Shot – An open shot is when the striker can take a shot, directly towards goal, with no defender within a square yard or so that can hinder, or impeded the pure technical ability of a striker to strike the ball. This offers a number of ways to analyze a condition – 1) the team has had the skill necessary to generate and create a clean shot on goal. 2) the defending team has been put into a condition where that open shot clearly indicates they were out of position, and 3) the defending team, when ‘not’ giving the opponent an Open Shot has done their best to be in a position to deny a clear shot on goal; in other words this is a deductive way of measuring ‘what didn’t and did happen’ with respect to good/poor team / individual defending and good/poor team/individual attacking.
- Open Pass – An open pass is when a teammate can pass a ball, directly towards any other teammate, where no defender, within a square yard or so is present to hinder that pass. This offers a number of ways to analyze a condition 1) the team has had the skill necessary to generate and create a clean pass to a teammate, 2) the defending team has either made a consicious decision not to challenge a pass from that area (note the location of the pass needs to be graphed) or the team was not in a good defensive position to hinder that pass, 3) the defending team, when ‘not’ giving the opponent an Open Pass has done their best to be in a position to deny a clear pass to another teammate; in other words this is a deductive way of measuring ‘what didn’t and did happen’ with respect to good/poor team / individual defending and good/poor team / individual attacking.
I truly believe more effective and efficient analysis can come from defining passes and shots as being ‘open’ versus ‘hindered’ and by doing this it creates a more effective way to filter and help better determine what statistically doesn’t happen versus how current approaches are taken to measure what does happen.
And with this approach, other ‘did happen’, statistics like tackles, interceptions, blocked crosses, blocked shots can add additional clarity on the ‘did happen’ while the what ‘didn’t happen’ can now be more precisely graphed and plotted to better track good/bad zonal defending schemes versus good/bad man-to-man defending schemes – further identifying individual performance indicators that plot strengths and weaknesses of individual performance as as well as tactical coaching performance.
From an operational standpoint it merely means adding two new statistical categories (Open Shot and Open Pass) – the current statistical categories (Shot and Pass) would merely be redefined as being as the terms associated with shots and passes that are ‘hindered’.
And yes, it will be slightly judgmental (nothings perfect and even the refereeing in this game still remains judgmental) but with modern day technology I’m sure the video analysis programs can be tuned to generate that statistic based upon the physical presence of a data dot (of the player) relative to the other player making the pass or shot… – especially with the advent of GPS.
For more explanations on this concept read here (about 2/3rds of the way through the article)…
If you’re in the world of soccer statistics and you think or feel these improvements add value please retweet. In addition, under any circumstances :) please add comments, as appropriate.
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