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3 essential skills required for analysing football

Football is a unique blend of creativity, skills, and raw data. Managers, tacticians, and data analysts the world over subject every match to intricate study, and there’s always more to learn. Strategies are continually developing, so football seems to be in a constant state of evolution.

#1 Number skills

Although football matches often appear to hinge on individual genius or endeavour moments, most coaches and statisticians would argue that data is just as (if not more) important. A single match throws up a range of data, including possession, number of passes, shots on goal, even distances run by individual players. Things get even more complex when you take into account zones of possession and the success rates of individual players in certain one on one situations.

Therefore, a scholar of the game needs a firm grounding in mathematics and the ability to process large amounts of data and draw conclusions from it. A background in statistics (perhaps even a degree in that area) is hugely helpful. Most people can look at a set of numbers and reach some kind of conclusion, but being able to translate those numbers into tangible, on-pitch results is a completely different matter.

#2 Understanding of probability

Probability is the study of how likely something is to occur based on the evidence available. It’s a popular school of mathematics for students, with a range of real-world applications. Probability is used widely in game theory, and it has a part to play in casino gaming too. For example, working out the odds of something occurring is useful at an online casino like www.luckynuggetcasino.com/ca/, and it’s also how bookmakers set the odds for football matches.

An understanding of probability allows football statisticians to devise the best strategies to counter threats that are likely to emerge. It allows them to forecast when and where difficulties will develop during a match and then use that knowledge to change how the game plays. Probability is about much more than just predicting a result. It’s about using a dataset to build a likely collection of scenarios and then using these to inform decision-making.

#3 Problem solving

All of that data and information can go out of the window during a match, though. Football isn’t just fast paced, but it contains that all-important human element. Players can make mistakes; others might behave uncharacteristically. Any of these factors will completely alter the course of a match and, in doing so, undermine all the statistical and mathematical work undertaken beforehand.

As such, anybody analysing or working within football must be able to problem-solve, both quickly and creatively. Analysing a match in real-time is a skill all of its own and probably the most difficult part of a football statistician’s job. One innovative solution can lead to problems elsewhere, and if a game is proceeding unexpectedly, it can sometimes be difficult to understand why especially if it’s going against the pre-established data. That random element, of course, is the beauty of sport.