Whilst physical skills are undoubtedly important in football, the very best players also a clear picture of what is going on around them at all times when on the field. This perhaps goes some way to explain why Premier League club Chelsea are now using artificial intelligence in order to improve their coaching.
Standout players at both a professional and amateur level are able to make split-second decisions concerning where to pass the ball or which run to make, however is this skill able to be taught? Chelsea certainly think so, with their academy set-up having developed a system in order to measure such decision-making skills using the help of artificial intelligence. A large amount of data has been analysed in order to track both players and the ball during matches, with each position coming with a different computer model. Such models provide something of a benchmark when it comes to comparing the performance of players.
As a result, analysts are able to gain a better understanding as to what may have happened in the event of players making a different decision on the pitch, something which has previously been unavailable. For instance, if a winger decided to pass the ball back to his full-back, rather than take on his opponent, the system will be able to provide an insight into the alternative outcome. The belief is that coaches will use such information to allow players to reflect more on their own actions, which in effect should improve their decision-making.
The ability to measure decision-making skills is made difficult due to a large number of reasons, however this is largely due to the fact that humans are unable to keep track of all scenarios that take place during a football match. In order to resolve this issue, artificial intelligence is used in order to imitate such events, as such technology is able to learn the behaviour of players by analysing large amounts of data.
Realism is still an issue however, as it is difficult for a computer to understand the entire list of options available to a player both with and without the ball, as well as anticipating what others on the pitch will do. As a result, additional factors including tiredness are taking into account, in order to ensure that the model is as realistic as possible.
Such advancements in technology allow for better analysis, with information including heart rate, body type and in-game conditions set to be added to models in the future. As a result, the way in which coaches analyse players will also become different, allowing players to see exactly where they went wrong, as well as where they made the correct decision. Elsewhere, scouts would also be in a position to identify talent based on their decision-making skills.
While the use of artificial intelligence is at the moment only available to top professional clubs due to the financial requirements of such technology, there is no doubt that tech can still enhance the efficiency of clubs. Spond is a relatively simple application, however it has been proven to save coaches, parents and players hours each week, making it a must-have platform for all.
Both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup Finals are now just around the corner, with those involved having undoubtedly already begun preparations for such encounters. Whilst the stakes may not be quite as high on a Sunday morning, there are still some important steps to take in order for coaches to give their team the best possible chance of coming out on top.
Those children who develop quicker in size are easy to spot when it comes to youth sport, with such individuals potentially even standing out for looking like they are competing in the wrong age group. However, does this mean that they receive the same coaching as others?
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