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Data reduction for effective sport performance presentation

This is an excerpt from Sport Performance Analytic Methods With HKPropel Access by John R. Todorovich.

The sport performance analyst is responsible for ensuring that the coaching staff and other organizational decision makers are provided with the answers to their analytic questions as efficiently and accurately as possible. That said, the analyst should not overwhelm the coaching staff and other decision makers with complex presentations of data. This is a very important distinction, and it is crucial that the analyst reduce the findings of the data to the smallest meaningful amount to provide decision makers with the exact information they need to fully answer any analytic question.

The steps involved in data reduction for effective sport performance data presentation are to review the analytic question, identify critical data, and reduce the results and findings to those constraints. The analytic question should have been determined in the first step of the SPA model. The critical data consist of the specific variables or factors determined to best answer the question. Once that is confirmed, the analyst can review the results from the analysis and identify the critical data. This constrains the findings to those components, and the data presentation, then, will include only those results and findings. Some measurement tools, such as TADA equipment, may provide more information than is needed to address analytic questions. It is therefore the task of the analyst to present only relevant information.

To further understand the practice of data reduction, consider the following scenario. After reviewing a heat map (discussed later in this chapter), a soccer coach sees that most of the shots taken by the team are from the right side of the field. When watching films of their games, the coach also notices that the opponents tend to shift more of their defenders to the attacking right side of the field. Because of these observations, the coach is interested in having a more balanced attack on goal. As a result, the coach asks the analyst a general analytic question: “How can we improve the balance of our attack on goal so we have an equal number of shots taken from the left, middle, and right sides of the field?”

Beginning with this general analytic question, the analyst will then refine the question to critical variables. After reviewing potential reasons for the higher numbers of shots from the attacking right, the analyst and coach believe it is because the players tend to prefer their dominant foot, which is usually the right foot. As a result, the coach and analyst refine the analytic question to focus on balancing the use of both feet in the attacking third of the field for passing, dribbling, and ­shooting. To further refine the data, the analyst identifies the offensive players who would be in a position to attack in that part of the field. This reduces the data needs to the use of the dominant foot by a select group of players. The coach can then look at the balance of the players’ use of both feet and use the data to make decisions such as where and when players will play and the type of feedback given to the athletes.

Once data are reduced and available to answer the question, the analyst selects an appropriate data presentation style to succinctly and clearly answer each question that was a focus of the analysis.

More Excerpts From Sport Performance Analytic Methods With HKPropel Access