Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

7 Easy Steps to Get Started in Football Data & Analytics

The role of data and analytics in football has grown significantly in recent years. Clubs like Brentford and Barnsley have been able to achieve success by leveraging data-driven recruitment and performance strategies. Metrics such as Expected Goals (xG) have become commonplace in football discussions and analysis. The availability of more detailed and useful data has revolutionized the way teams analyze and improve their performance.

As a result, opportunities in the field of football data and analytics continue to expand. Many professional clubs are looking to enhance their analytics departments, and sports analytics companies like InStat, Scisports, and Opta Sports offer alternative pathways into football data work. However, competition for roles in this area is fierce. So how can you get ahead of the game and build experience to stand out? In this article, we’ll provide you with seven easy steps to get started in football data and analytics.

1. Immerse Yourself in the World of Sports Analytics

If you’re new to sports analytics, immersing yourself in reading material about the subject is a great way to start. Numerous books, articles, and publications delve into the role of data and analytics in football. Some well-regarded authors in this field include Tom Worville and Jonathan Wilson, who integrate complex tactical analysis into their work.

Dedicate time to reading longer books that explore the history, development, and deployment of data in football. Titles like Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski’s “Soccernomics,” Christoph Bermann’s “Football Hackers: The Science and Art of a Data Revolution,” and James Tippet’s “The Expected Goals Philosophy” provide valuable insights into the world of football analytics.

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2. Develop Analytical Viewing Habits

If you aspire to a career in football data and analytics, you need to start watching matches in a different way. While it’s important to enjoy the game as a spectator, developing analytical viewing habits will help you in your career. Here are some tips for watching football analytically:

  • Don’t just focus on the ball; pay attention to the movements and rotations of both teams.
  • Choose a team to analyze and focus exclusively on them. Start with the team you support as it’s easier to identify and understand their players.
  • Observe how teams build their attacks from the back. Are they patient in moving the ball forward or more direct?
  • Analyze how players position themselves as they advance up the field. How do they create width, and what is the shape of the central players?
  • Identify defensive patterns in the team you’re observing. Do they sit back or press aggressively? How many players do they commit to pressing?

Adopting these analytical habits will gradually become second nature, and your confidence in understanding tactical decisions will improve over time.

3. Join the Football Twitter Community

Twitter is home to a vibrant community of football data and analytics enthusiasts. Collaborating with like-minded individuals on the platform can be immensely beneficial. According to Ashwin Raman, a remote Dundee scout, the community fosters collaboration and learning. Reach out, follow knowledgeable individuals, and engage in discussions to expand your network.

Professional clubs are also increasingly looking to Football Twitter for talent. Many knowledgeable and tactically astute people share content on the platform. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to work, network, and develop your portfolio from the comfort of your own home.

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4. Seek Advice from Industry Professionals

To gain insights into the best route into football data and analytics, connect with people currently working in positions that interest you. Whether they are performance analysts, recruitment specialists, or video analysts, having conversations with professionals in the field will be immensely helpful. Ask about their career paths, tools they use, recommended software, and any resources they suggest, such as videos or books. Many professionals are willing to help, and offering assistance in return can make you stand out from others seeking guidance.

5. Learn Coding for Data Analysis

Learning how to code is essential in the world of football data. While it might seem intimidating at first, there are numerous online resources available, many of which are free. Two coding languages associated with sports analytics are R and Python. Websites like FC Python, FC RStats, Friends of Tracking, and Ahmad Lala’s Python course offer valuable support in learning these languages. Start by experimenting with tables, graphs, and data presentations in Excel to build a foundation. With the right educational resources and dedicated practice, coding will become less daunting, and your analytics skills will flourish.

6. Understand the Different Roles in Data and Analytics

It’s crucial to recognize the diverse range of job opportunities within football analytics. Different roles require different skills and interests. For individuals with a mathematics background and a fondness for numbers, hard data analyst roles might be the best fit. On the other hand, those who excel at analyzing match footage and identifying tactical trends may find video analyst work more suitable. These roles can be done remotely and on a freelance basis, but many clubs also prefer in-house specialists. Explore the various football analytics positions, keeping an eye out for opportunities at clubs, data suppliers, and sports publications.

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7. Practice and Share Your Work

The most important step is to start writing and sharing your work. Practice your skills by writing scout reports, creating player profiles, analyzing statistics, and producing your research and content regularly. Your early work may not be your best, but the more you write, the better you will become. Don’t wait for the perfect moment or a large audience—just get started! Building a portfolio and showcasing your work will demonstrate your passion and abilities to potential employers.

In conclusion, getting started in football data and analytics may appear daunting, but it is an exciting field filled with opportunities. Read, watch, learn, analyze, and share your insights. The more you immerse yourself in the world of football data, the better equipped you will be to pursue a rewarding career in this rapidly evolving discipline.

For more information and to explore football analytics courses, visit our Football Education Hub. It provides access to the largest database of analytics courses in the market, ensuring you find the course that suits your needs.

Author Bio:
Fred Garratt-Stanley is a freelance writer and a passionate Norwich City fan. He has experience reporting on football for various publications. Alongside his interest in football, Fred has a background in music and culture journalism, with bylines in NME, The Quietus, Resident Advisor, and more. Currently, he works as a content writer for several online health and fitness publications.