Friday, 25 November 2011

Big Sam's use of SaberMetrics at West Ham

Using statistical analysis to recruit players rather than rely on the subjective judgement of coaches and scouts, sabermetrics was an idea developed by American baseball fan Bill James.

It was an idea put to the test with some success by the Oakland 'A's general manager Billy Beane and author Michael Lewis wrote the book "Moneyball" about the story, which has been made into a film released this month starring Brad Pitt.

Sam Alladyce has been a long fan of this and went to America to meet Billy Beane to be one of the first to pioneer a Football 'SaberMetrics' system at Bolton.

Sam using a company called Prozone to provide much of this data & statistics.

This what Sam said of Prozone while manager of Blackburn

"I have been using and helping Prozone to develop over the last nine years. It is without doubt one of the most important pieces of information in modern day football. We simply can not do without Prozone to help us be the best we can be."

Big Sam has embraced the use of technology throughout his career and is one of the pioneers to integrate the use of sports science and specifically performance analysis into the coaching process. He first installed Prozone at Bolton Wanderers at the start of the 2000/01 season and shortly after achieved promotion to the Premiership after a three-year absence for the Lancashire club. Blackburn & Newcastle has since seen Sam Allardyce utilise Prozone there also.
"The system provides a vital source of information for our coaching staff to draw upon including a mass of statistics and the unique animation, which means nothing is missed during the game."

Although I can find no official confirmation it is a safe bet that Sam is using his old friends Prozone again at West Ham.

When I met Big Sam last week he spoke frequently about statistics and what he learnt in America. He also explained that West Ham players wear GPS vests in training. I assume these are sourced from GPSports 

These GPS vests have the capacity to measure distances, speeds, heart rates, bodyloads and impacts all in real time. Information is sent in real time to a laptop.

About Prozone

Hidden in the stands at most games in the Premiership and Championship are cameras belonging to  sports analysts Prozone. These cameras track every element of each player’s movement, distance covered, high-powered runs and defensive positioning. 

The overall mileage of players is no longer a key stat for the men looking to find the extra percentages between winning and finishing second. 

Clubs are increasingly enlisting the services of these analysts to create profiles of potential transfer targets
Analysts at football clubs are interested in a player’s ability to reach a threshold speed of 22ft per second. 

They also want to know the number of chances a player creates, his successful pass percentage in the final third of the field and his recovery rates from sprints. If they can put all this information into one equation, then pub arguments may well be over.

Clubs download data from Prozone the day after a game, in the form of Excel documents or in video format. Prozone provides the video evidence, and football data supplier Opta offers statistical analysis and breakdowns. 

Clubs are increasingly enlisting the services of these analysts to create profiles of potential transfer targets. 

English football clubs are using companies such as Opta and Prozone (as well as, Scout7, WYScout, Sportstec and Amisco) to supply information that should help them do for football what Sabermetrics has done for American baseball.

I did a Skype interview with Mike Parry on Sports Tonight TV LIVE on SaberMetrics & Big Sam which is available on YouTube here.  

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