Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using science to identify true soccer stars: Researchers find a new approach to ranking and rating soccer players

Date:
June 17, 2010
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Until now, rating the world's best soccer players was often based on a fan's personal sense of the game. But researchers recently developed a computer program that, for the first time, measures player success based on objective assessments of performance instead of opinion.

Researchers have developed new computational techniques to measure and rank the success of soccer players based on an objective measure of performance instead of opinion.
Credit: iStockphoto

As a young boy growing up in Portugal, Luís Amaral loved playing, watching and talking soccer. Amaral and his friends passionately debated about which players were "the best." But, it was just a matter of opinion. Unlike baseball and basketball, there isn't a lot of statistical information detailing how each soccer player contributes to a match.

Amaral, now a professor at Northwestern University, combined his love of soccer with his research team's computational skills to measure and rank the success of soccer players based on an objective measure of performance instead of opinion. The results of the study will be published June 16, 2010 PLoS ONE, a journal published by the Public Library of Science.

Though their analysis, Amaral and his team were able to objectively rank the performances of all the players in the 2008 European Cup tournament. Their results closely matched the general consensus of sports reporters who covered the matches as well as the team of experts, coaches and managers that subjectively chose players for the "best of" tournament teams.

"In soccer there are relatively few big things that can be counted," said Amaral, professor of chemical and biological engineering with the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and senior author of the paper. "You can count how many goals someone scores, but if a player scores two goals in a match, that's amazing. You can really only divide two or three goals or two or three assists among, potentially, eleven players. Most of the players will have nothing to quantify their performance at the end of the match."

To find a quantitative way to rank players, co-author and Northwestern graduate student Josh Waitzman first wrote software to pull play-by-play statistical information from the 2008 Euro Cup website. This type of extensive statistical information is usually only gathered for important matches, Amaral said. Amaral and Jordi Duch, the paper's first author and an assistant professor of applied math and computer science at Universitat Rovira I Virgili in Spain, used the data to quantify the performance of players by generalizing methods from social network analysis.

"You can define a network in which the elements of the network are your players," Amaral said. "Then you have connections between the players if they make passes from one to another. Also, because their goal is to score, you can include another element in this network, which is the goal."

Amaral's team mapped out the flow of the soccer ball between players in the network as well as shooting information and analyzed the results.

"We looked at the way in which the ball can travel and finish on a shot," said Amaral, who also is a member of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO) and an Early Career Scientist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "The more ways a team has for a ball to travel and finish on a shot, the better that team is. And, the more times the ball goes through a given player to finish in a shot, the better that player performed."

"It would never happen by chance that we would get such striking agreement with the consensus opinion of so many experts if our measure wasn't good," Amaral said.

He says this kind of analysis can be used outside of the soccer world, too. Companies could use the method to rank and evaluate the performance of employees working together on a team project, for example.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jordi Duch, Joshua S Waitzman, Luís A Nunes Amaral. Quantifying the Performance of Individual Players in a Team Activity. PLoS ONE, 2010; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010937

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Using science to identify true soccer stars: Researchers find a new approach to ranking and rating soccer players." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616171637.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2010, June 17). Using science to identify true soccer stars: Researchers find a new approach to ranking and rating soccer players. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616171637.htm
Northwestern University. "Using science to identify true soccer stars: Researchers find a new approach to ranking and rating soccer players." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616171637.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — The Intercept published an article Monday profiling what the online publication called NSA's very own Google of personal data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ralph Lauren Gets Into Wearables Game With 'Polo Tech'

Ralph Lauren Gets Into Wearables Game With 'Polo Tech'

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) — Ralph Lauren, partnering with OMsignal, is testing out new biometric-reading shirts called "Polo Tech" on ball boys at the U.S. Open. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Makes Twitch Worth $1 Billion To Amazon?

What Makes Twitch Worth $1 Billion To Amazon?

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) — Amazon is reportedly about to purchase Twitch, a streaming service for video game players, but why? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins