Technology

Scout7, a bespoke software for scouting

Scout7 is one of the platforms offered by Opta to help decision making in the global recruitment and development of players. It offers clubs performance data on over 520,000 players across the world and the ability to watch over 3 million minutes of video footage on their performances. The advantage of Scout7 over similar platforms is that it is usually integrated in a bespoke manner into the club's systems, allowing it to be tailored differently for each club according to that club's needs.

More than just an extensive player database, Scout7 allows clubs across the general management of their data by providing them with clear organisation and access to their information and support various departments' needs. Under the umbrella brand Intelligent Sports Framework, the Scout7 platform offers three different services to not only help with scouting but also improve the video databases for the clubs as well as provide tools for training and player development. The iSF platform is constituted of ProScout7, Scout7.tv and TrainingGround, each offering a different set of features to complement the overall software. iSF enables a scouting team to create their own custom report templates and live data widgets so that the information most frequently needed can be accessed almost immediately.

Scout7 captures their own data from matches and players across the world that can be easily accessed by scouts through Scout7.tv, where Scout7 uploads all their high definition footage. Scout7.tv also offers many advanced filtering options to find specific players or game, analyse game statistics and also create your own clips of interesting players. On top of that, the data can be augmented with other compatible third party integrations if the club needs to do so, converting it in an even more complete platform for scouting. 

It is with ProScout7, another piece of Scout7's overall platform, where all the scouting information and actions take place. ProScout7 is a management system for scouting reports and assessment of players, where information can be flagged and shared to the rest of the scouting department for further analysis or decision making. In this section, scouts can create recommendation lists of players they wish to flag and rate each of the players the club wishes to pursue. These lists and player ratings can also be archived for later use. Similarly to Scout7.tv, scouts can also use advanced search functionality to find players of certain criteria and characteristics they are looking for, and compliment their assessments with reports from the Scout7 team themselves to consolidate a more complete view on particular players.

Lastly, the TrainingGround platform from Scout7 aims to take a more internal look at the club's current players and support coaches with development and injury prevention. From basic functionally such as planning training drills and reporting on performance of the team's matches to capturing physiological data of each player to run comparisons and deeper analysis as well as keeping a health record of injuries and treatments. While TrainingGround offers a simpler set of tools than ProScout7 and Scout7.tv, it demonstrates the attempt Scout7 is making to become the sole platforms for day-to-day club management in all areas and departments. Thanks to their close collaboration with the clubs due to its tailor-made integration of Scout7, they can find technological gaps in other areas of the club, get valuable feedback directly from the team and go back and build solutions that fit exactly those needs.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SCOUT7

GPS technology in professional sports

Global Positioning System technology has been used in professional sport for some time, in both training sessions and during competition. Through the use of Electronic Performance and Tracking System (EPTS) devices, teams can track player’s movement on the pitch and collect vast amounts of data on their performance; such as their running speed, distance run, their position on the pitch, their heart rate and their body's work rate.

These 'wearable' devices and the data they collect have multiple uses, one major of them being the prevention of injuries. By tracking a player's sprints and distance covered the coaching staff can determine whether such player is fit for their next game or could benefit from resting. According to Taylor from iSportAnalysis (2017), studies have shown that when athletes train at a higher rate than the season's average there tend to be more injury occurrences. An increase in training and game-play intensity without adequate recovery can results in an increase of injury rate. Coaches can now predict and prevent player injuries by monitoring these patterns from the GPS metrics obtained, and can make the right decisions by knowing whether their player is over training, whether they need a rest or whether they are in peak condition.

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However, GPS is not only used to track a player's health and fitness. The value of the data collected through these EPTS devices goes beyond that. This data can also map a player's positioning on the pitch to help identify the most frequent spaces covered and provide insights on how well various areas were utilised. This can then provide a valuable source of information to adapt training and development of specific players according to their physical and tactical needs.

The type of data captured by the GPS trackers can vary largely by provider and the needs of the team using the data. As with most areas in performance analysis, the data captured by GPS needs to be used and analysed appropriately in the context of the sport, athlete or situation. An isolated data point can only provide very little insight on what is really happening, if any at all. This is why the use of GPS metrics require the combination of multiple variables in order to obtain a complete picture. For instance, two athletes may run the same distance at the same average speed, but taking a look at heart rates or speed intervals can provide a closer look into their fitness and amount of amount of load each body is taking to deliver that outcome. The most common data point being collected are:

  • Total distance covered
  • Average running speed
  • Total running distance (high pace)
  • Total sprinting distance (full speed sprinting)
  • Average acceleration time
  • Average deceleration time
  • Heart rate (to identify athlete's work rate)
  • Positioning on the field
  • Time of high intensity play
  • Time of low intensity play
  • Athlete's load (the demand on an athlete's body)
  • G-Force / impact data (for impact sports like rugby)

There are various providers of GPS technologies offering devices and services to professional clubs and athletes. One of the technology providers is Exelio, which sells its technology under the brand name GPEXE and partners with clubs such as AC Milan or AS Monaco. Their strength in the market can be attributed by its 20 Hz device frequency, much higher frequency devices than that of most of its competitors. With this high frequency GPEXE achieves a higher accuracy of information when tracking a player's changes in speed and direction, something a lot of providers struggle to do with lower frequencies. However, there are many important players in the GPS Sport technology industry partnering with elite sport clubs:

  • Catapult
    • Partners with: Bayern Munich FC, Paris Saint Germain FC, Wales Rugby and NFL's Steelers, amongst others.
  • PlayerTek
    • Partners with: Liverpool FC, Celtic FC, Wigan Athletic FC and Malmo FF, amongst others.
  • StatSport
    • Partners with: Tottenham Hotspurs FC, Portugal FA, Manchester City and West Ham United, amongst others.
  • GPSports
    • Partners with: Real Madrid FC, Chelsea FC, Atletico Madrid and Spain FA, amongst others.
  • GPEXE
    • Partners with: AC Milan, Inter Milan, Sampdoria and AS Monaco, amongst others.

Historically, acquiring this technology was cost-prohibitive for most teams, even at professional levels. However, as technology advances these devices are becoming more budget-friendly allowing more teams to adopt them for their training sessions and player development. Some lower league clubs are even loaning the technology from the providers in exchange of free usage of the data collected for research and development to improve their products.

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These wearable pieces of equipment are normally placed on athlete's torsos. They are composed of various sensors to track different types of metrics and allow to store and transfer the data to a common data repository. According to SimpliFaster (2017), there are 4 types of sensors used in Player Tracking devices today: an accelerometer, a gyro, a magnetometer and a GPS module. Each sensor has a unique function that compliments the role of each other sensor. For instance, an accelerometer measures the changes in rates of perceived forces while a gyro give the data from the accelerometer direction by using the Earth's gravity. Similarly, the magnetometer will use the Earth's magnetic field to also provide direction to the data from the accelerometer. On top of that, the GPS module completes the data with satellite-positioning information.

However, no modern tracking device has been proven to be 100% accurate and reliable. An example of that is that these torso devices may be missing important information about the center of gravity of each athlete. Also, the data captured may often be indicative rather than factual due to the limitations of GPS accuracy today. Advances in technology will show an improvement in coming years on these devices and their reliability. Not only by extending battery life or reducing the size of the wearable equipment but developments in sensors and data capturing technologies will drive the future of GPS tracking in sport. For example, foot sensors are currently being explored and can prove to provide a lot more precise information of the forces and gravity of each athlete.

An overview of Dartfish, a powerful videoanalysis software

Founded in Switzerland in 1999, Dartfish is a videoanalysis solution that allows analysts to capture, analyse and share videos of training sessions and matches. The software offers tools to capture the footage directly into the platform, tag events real-time, and upload, organize and share the various videos produced. A video is displayed with the match footage on one of the screens with a panel of tags and codes next to it where an analyst is able to visualize instantly key actions identified and underline what the action reveals.

Source: Dartfish.com

Source: Dartfish.com

Dartfish offers a complete set of features for analysis in many different sports. Analysts are able to tag, review and edit actions seen in the footage in real-time while continuing to record events that continue to take place. Report creation tools are then used to identify certain patterns in actions in order to sport strengths and weaknesses and better define an athletes or team's strategy. The software is also great for video highlights, with ability to playback and zoom in key actions and add tables, lines and any other shapes into the footage for clear presentations.

While Dartfish has a built-in capture system, it also enables you to import footage from other sources from a wide range of devices. It supports multiple video formats such as Mpeg-4, h.264 and even 4K videos. Their most complete solution also allows you to record video from static IP cameras around a playing ground. Once the video has been captured or imported, the trim and time-shift tool allows you to edit and replay certain parts of the footage before starting to code it.

During video analysis, aside from basic drawing features such as freehand, line, circle, rectangle and arrow, Dartfish allows you to create slowmotion highlights, fast-forward/fast-rewind the less important sections, zoom in relevant parts of the screen and create snapshots of key moments. But it is feature such as their split video analysis when playing to moments simultaneously, as well as the measuring of angles and automatic tracking of trajectories, that make Dartfish standout as a powerful video analysis platform.

Dartfish is a flexibile and adaptable platform as the interface can be modified to each analyst's preferences and needs. An analyst can define his or her own tagging panel by identifying the right keywords to use as tags and assigning them a particular button in the keyboard. Tabs and boxes can also be created with multiple panels for different tagging functions. Tagging can take place either through an imported video or live as the video is being captured.

Once the footage has been imported and tagged completed, Dartfish offers reporting capabilities to analyse the relevant highlights that have taken place. The software summarises frequency and duration data in stats tables and graphs of the different tagged events to provide a quantitative summary of the match or training session. It also allows analysts to apply multi-criteria filters and create various playlists and montages for future reference. All these videos can then be exported or shared via the cloud with coaches and athletes.

The Dartfish software comes in four different packages:

  • Dartfish Mobile for $5 a month
  • Dartfish 360 for $20 a month
  • Dartfish 360 S for $40 a month
  • Dartfish Live S for $70 a month

Find out more about Dartfish

Opta Sports: the leading sports data provider

Launched in 1996, Opta Sports has been the major player in data collection and distribution in sports for over two decades, offering statistical information and player performance data from major sport leagues all over the world to media clients and clubs themselves. After transferring ownership several times over the years, in 2003 Opta was acquired by Perform Group, a sports media company based in the UK who also own other brands such as Goal.com and Sporting News Media in the US. Perform Group itself is owned by Ukrainian businessman Len Blavatnik through his privately held multinational industrial group called Access Industries.

With over 400 employees around the world, Opta collects data on 60,000 fixtures a year across 30 different sports in 70 countries. While football is their main business, the company also collects data for rugby union, rugby league, cricket, american football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. Their data varies in the level of complexity and depth, from simple live scores to augmented data through statistical modeling. They classify their data offerings in four different tiers:

  • Core: live scores, updates and post-match content
  • Classic: team and player-level aggregated data and statistics
  • Performance: the most detailed and accurate level of data
  • Advanced: analytical assessment and modelling on augmented data

But how do they collect all this data? Opta hires teams of full-time and part-time analyst to watch every single game that takes place and, with the use of their data collection video software, notate all the various events that occur on the field, often capturing up to 2,000 pieces of data per match. Opta's data collection software operates similarly to a video game, where each combination of buttons will represent an action by a certain player allowing the analyst to press the appropriate combination of buttons as they watch the live game. Three analyst will be involved in each game: one for the home team, one for the away team and a third one to double check the data. The data is then checked by a post-match team to ensure 100% accuracy.

Once the data has been collected, Opta offers different methods to distribute the data to its clients, such as feeds, widgets and apis. Feeds are one of the most popular method due to the level of flexibility and detail Opta can offer depending on its client's requirements, whether is live or historical data in a number of different formats. While Opta don't expose their feeds pricing structure, presumably to be able to adapt it based on client needs, it is suspected that it can range between £500 to £2,000 in a number of cases. However, pricing is stablished case by case and is highly negotiable. Opta takes into consideration whether it can form a strategic partnership with the client (ie. size of the business requesting the data), revenue model, type of data requested and other various factors before determining a final price for their feed service.

Aside from their raw data collection and distribution, Opta is also pioneering the development of new ways to look at sport through the creation of new metrics to augment the data captured. Their most popular metrics so far has been xG (expected goals), where they provide a value to a specific shot, or group of shots, to determine the likelihood of the shot being scored based on historical data of similar shots. In a similar fashion, they expended xG to create xA (expected assists), to identify the likelihood of a pass becoming an assist in an goalscoring opportunity. However, their most recent developments are sequences and defensive coverage. Sequences refer to the passage of play that takes place from the moment possession is gained to when it is lost, including by a shot on goal. Within sequences, they also look at possession, which is the number of consecutive sequences the team has without losing control of the ball (ie. a shot that ends up in a corner for the attacking team will mean 2 sequences in 1 possession). In terms of defensive coverage, Opta has developed a metric to measure the area of defensive actions by a player during a match.

Opta has established themselves as the leaders in football, rugby and cricket data around the world. Their client portfolio continues to expand and they are now working with major sporting organisations from media to clubs. Some of their most memorable partnerships include Sky Sports, Arsenal FC, Real Madrid, Manchester City, the MLS, BBC Sport and the All Blacks, amongst many others.

An overview of Sportscode, a key video analysis platform for performance analysts

Sporstcode is one of the leading video analysis software in the performance analysis field today, used by thousands of analysts, coaches and athletes around the world. This popular platform goes as far back as 1999, when Australian coaching applications and professional services company Sportstec first launched the first version of the revolutionary video software. However, in 2015, the company was acquired by the American counterparts Hudl in an effort to strengthen the companies position in the industry by combining the elite-level sport market dominance of Sportstec with the broader reach within amateur and grassroots level of Hudl, as stated by former Sportstec Managing Director Philip Jackson (PR Newswire, 2015).

The platform allows analysts and coaches to visually identify what went well and what could be improved in a training session or game by providing a quick and easy way to create interactive reports linked to key highlights. The process is very simple: capture your video into Sportscode, code the different events that take place in the footage, evaluate the results of the relevant events captured and present the insights to coaches and athletes. However, the platform offers a very wide range of functionalities and features that require some time to get familiarized with before being able to effectively use it.

Capturing and Uploading Video

With Sportscode you can capture video live, uploading it into the platform in real-time and from multiple angles when using multiple cameras, to then code the recorded footage by tagging all the relevant events to later analyse. With the most recent version released in 2017, you are even able to capture video from a remote IP camera, allowing the capture of angles that are impossible or impractical to collect through a lift or tripod camera. This is particularly important for sports where teams are spread out across the field, as focusing on a specific area of the pitch may not capture players standing outside the angle of reach.

Coding the video footage

Once the video has been uploaded into the platform, Sportscode provides analysts with enough flexibility within their set of features to define what code windows suit best the KPIs of their team. In this coding process, analyst can define the text, colour, size and alignment of their tags, create filters to play back key moments, define the length and category of each event, execute calculations of the data as it is being coded and more. The analyst will start by defining the codes, flags and labels they will want to track in the video footage and then run the video while indicating which relevant tags apply for each section of the video based on the actions and events that take place.

Analysing the events captured

Aside from tracking the numerous events from a game or training session, Sportscode also allows analysts and coaches to evaluate a particular play of action with interactive visualizations and drawing features. Plays can also be played back from multiple angles, if they were captured in such way, and multiple games can be combined into one unique video if the purpose is to analyse a specific style of playing across various matches. While Sportscode is primarily a video-centric software, it also offers the ability to generate quantitative insights based on the events tracked in the footage and produce spreadsheet style reports. These reports can be shared remotely and in real-time with coaches as the insights are generated to allow for quicker reaction and decision-making.

Presenting and sharing the results

Once the video has been captured and coded, highlights have been generated and the analysis has been completed, Sportscode allows you to export the final video with all the information to share it with coaches and players. This can be done in the form of individual videos or even playlists with groups of videos sorted by different categories. These video presentations can also include notes and commentary on relevant highlights for a more detailed review.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SPORTSCODE HERE

How Wyscout has evolved football scouting

Wyscout initially launched in 2004 in Italy as a Football Match Analysis and Advertising provider, amongst other minor services the company offered. It was not until 2008 when they launched their first user interface to offer access to their footballer database containing basic stats such as weight and height of players. Since then, the platform has experience rapid growth and popularity in the world of football and particular in the scouting field.

By 2012, Wyscout had captured videos and statistics of over 200,000 players around the world and was now actively being used by 300 professional clubs and 15 national sides, as reported by The Guardian newspaper right before the opening of the 2012/13 season's winter transfer window. Wyscout had established themselves in the forefront of worldwide scouting, ending with the most traditional methods historically used where scouts went to view players across the world with a notepad. With a platform like Wyscout, all the information and video footage they needed to know about their next multimillion signing or future youth academy star was as far as the click of a button.

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However, as CEO of Wyscout Matteo Camponodico points out, the platform is not intended to replace scouts, as their roles continue to be crucial in shaping the future of clubs. Wyscout simply makes their job better by offering videos of players for them to review before or after they view them live. With the expanding range of functionalities the company continues to add, clubs can now list their transfer-listed players, examine footage of player trials, contact agents to discuss potential offers, view contract duration of players they are interested in signing and much more.

By 2016, SkySports reported that Wyscout had hire a team of 200 analyst collecting data for 1,300 matches a week and the platform had achieved a total of 32,000 professional users. With such a rapidly growing usage and user base, the demands for the data also continue to grow. Clubs asked Wyscout to go deeper into specific areas, to not only track major leagues worldwide but collect statistics in lower divisions too to sport future talent. Today, the company offers data for even semi-professional level players. The growing amount of data collected by Wyscout also increasingly requires smarter analytics to be applied to it. For example, to help digest and compare the wide variety of data offered, Wyscout develops indexing models to allow clubs to compare two team across completely different leagues using similar ratios.

Today, Wyscout is the main platform during transfer windows worldwide. The large majority of transfers in the world of football initiate and often get closed through Wyscout. But the use of the platform has also expanded to track player performance and even journalists are now using it to write articles about particular players. Even players are now making use of Wyscout to track their stats and those of their next opposition.

Matteo Camponodico's plans don't end here. He has an ambitious vision to continue the incredible growth of the platform and we are guaranteed to continue to hear a lot more about this great platform.

Videoanalysis editing software: Coach Paint and KlipDraw

Video editing software plays a key part during review sessions with players and coaches after a match or training session where tactical analysis is discussed in an engaging visual manner. Tools like Coach Paint, or the emerging KlipDraw, are great assets for Performance Analyst when grabbing player and coaches' attentions by visualizing formations, movements on the pitch, tactics and any in-game action that requires analysis.

Some of the key features these software offer are: player cut-out, spotlight, zoom, player tracking, zone tracking, distance measurement, trajectory marking and formation tools. They allow you to import your recorded videos, select the type of graphics and features to apply on them, trim the clips to ensure only highlights and relevant actions are included and export the final video as a standalone video file.

Between Coach Paint and KlipDraw the biggest difference is the license pricing. Coach Paint is a lot more expensive than KlipDraw, with the 'Fundamentals' subscription priced at $100 a month per user. KlipDraw on the other hand only costs $49 for a 6 months subscription, making it a lot more affordable. It is important to note that KlipDraw can only run on a Windows computer.

Both software offer trial periods before purchasing the complete license. It is recommended to try both of them before committing to one to see which one works for your needs.