Sports analysis has become a booming field of research propelled by real-world success illustrated by the best-selling book and movie, Moneyball. Today, fans hop over to FiveThirtyEight for data-based sports coverage, broadcast announcers break down a player’s breakaway speed in football or launch angle after a home run in baseball, and it’s a staple of fantasy sports gambling and the way that many consumers watch sports on television.
The core of a sports analysis job is to collect and analyse performance-related information during a sporting event or training session and deliver the results to coaches or other stakeholders. Typically, this involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative data might include the mechanical detail of an athlete’s skills, while the quantitative data can range from basic stats like goals scored or assists to GPS data and even the measurement of athletes’ heart rate, blood lactate levels and acceleration, speed and position metrics collected through wearable technology.
A successful sports analyst will also communicate these insights effectively. This is particularly important when analysing an opposition, where a detailed analysis can identify their preferred playing styles and expose potential vulnerabilities. The analytical results should be presented in a clear and easy to understand format, simplifying the planning and decision-making process for the coaches or other stakeholders.
In addition to the core analysis duties, a successful sports analyst will also be able to use data to improve a team’s performance off the pitch. For example, a football team might use analytics to evaluate their ticket pricing and offering, or an eSports organization might apply data analysis techniques to optimize their online retail sales.