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The Physical Size of Players

The physical size of players and the correlation between size and effectiveness on the field in all sports is a long and much debated and pondered subject.  Especially for the youth coach as they deal with the issue with coaching children developing physically (and emotionally..) at different stages and ages.  It’s been the subject of many locker room conversations and PHD thesis.

Taking a look at most sports there is often a relationship between physical attributes/size and the end results in play.  At one extreme you have race jockeys, the other you have sumo wrestlers.  American football does entertain many packing under 200lbs.  

And for sure in soccer there are few goalkeepers in the pro game standing less than 5 ft 11 in. In the English Premier League Tim Howard and Brad Friedel both hit 6 ft 3in.  Edwin Van der Sar is of Manchester United is an amazing 6 ft 5 ½ in.  So they say Irish goal guardian Shay Given is short for a goalkeeper at 6 ft 1 in.  So there’s probably little argument that height counts in the nets, at least at the top level.  Except for Jorge Campos who kept nets for Mexico 100 times, standing at 5 ft 6 in!    

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Goalkeepers – what do they do? How can we develop them? Can data help us?

What’s the true value of the keeper. The loneliest player on the field.  Priceless if they keep a clean sheet, not worth a cent if they give a way a penalty or pull a Robert Green.  Whilst at the NSCAA convention we came across some interesting data on keepers, some hearsay and  some with some substance.  Goalkeepers touch the ball with their feet 7 times more than they do with their hands (now we heard that from Jeff Tipping, so we’re not questioing it ), which if taken into account, will make a big difference to the training session.  Goalkeeping refers usually to how they handle the ball, how you stop or deflect shots, how you pick crosses from the air etc.  But a modern goalkeeper does more than that. They coordinate the defense as they haev the vision.  They can also act as a sweeper if the ball goes past the last line of defense and they must have good passing skills to put his teammates. Poor distribution will result in lost possession.   Coaching goalkeepers is different from coaching outfield players, so we thought we would make a mention a couple of web resources that have some great info, check these out;  Academy One Goalkeeping and a useful guide from one our favorite online resources Footy4Kids Coaching the U12 Keeper

So who is the best keeper in the world? Well they say it is Iker Casillas of Real Madrid.  Check this out on youtube, and see how many time he uses his feet to positive effect.

Soccer, metrics and statistics

Now Statzpack is not a tool to help you analyze professional soccer league stats, we are interested in how pro teams approach the collection and use of data to advnace player and tactical development.

The following two blogs offer great reading around that very subject, so we thought we would give them a mention.

The SoccerMetricsBlog is a cool destination, where  Applied Mathematics meets to Soccer.  Thanks to Howard Hamilton.  

Another interesting resource is the blog The Long Ball Tactic, who mixes up football and stats, and this particular entry looks at Moneyball and soccer.

Statzpack V2

To coincide with the 2011 NSCAA Annual Convention we are proud to announce the release of the latest version of Statzpack v2.0 with the following features.

  • works on iPhone/iPod/iPad
  • 5 -7-9-11 a side team size
  • in flight game stats as you record
  • revised pricing service range
  • improved website dashboard analysis
  • improved game scheduling interface 

So if you are a current user, or want to take a trial download the FREE Statzpack app from the iTunes store today.   Plus, this does not mean we will slowing up our development of the system.  We have much much more in the pipeline for 2011.And, if you sign up before end of January, you can avail of a 30% discount.

Baltimore NSCAA Convention 2011

Statzpack will be at the NSCAA Convention at Baltimore, Md.   We are supporting an educational session on the NSCAA schedule. ‘Collecting Stats in Youth Soccer. Is there any value?’

    Saturday, January 15   |   11am – 12pm, Room 343, Baltimore Convention Centre
The panel will include Michael Hanlon, University of Ulster and John DeWitt of Houston Dynamo. Come along and join the discussion.
You are also invited to join us for a beer and to get a sneak preview of Statzpack v2.0.  
Join us for a beer and test-drive Statzpack v2.0, the software that helps track and analyze your soccer performance.
Invitation Only RSVP

Match Analysis in Youth Soccer


Notational analysis is essentially a means of recording events so that there is an accurate and objective record of what happened in a sports game.  A record of what actually took place.  Spectators and parents will often see the game differently.  For the fan that aspect of subjectivity often makes following the sport as exciting as it.  Even the best coaches struggle to recall sequences of events accurately and often fail to recognise where a sequence of positive play originates, or where errors evolve and players’ view of the game can vary greatly.  Notational analysis gives the coach a factual record of data – of what does not lie.  Importantly, the method of data collection needs to be reliable, objective and relevant to the level of play.  Most importantly it must add value to the player and coach.

Collecting stats in sport originated in the US in basketball and baseball, soccer is a late comer to analysis, but nonetheless there are  a number of systems and tools available to the coach today.     The stats of athletes and participants in track and field events, swimmers and cyclists are easier to measure and produce metrics from – finish time, height jumped etc.  Analysis in soccer provides its own challenges, but with the right approach can yield great benefits to the entire team.  There is no one method to collecting stats, nor is there one method for each level of the game.

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Performance Analysis: Collecting Stats. Article in the NSCAA Soccer Journal November-December 2010

Statistics, including performance measurements and event analyses, are commonly used in sports such as baseball and American football, in both professional and non-professional venues. However, although professional soccer is flooded with statistics relating to players, most recreational, junior, and college soccer teams still use statistics minimally.  A big dilemma for coaches when it comes to recording and making use of stats is weighing the effort versus the return. How much time will it take to gather the data? How can this data be used to affect player development and performance? Who is going to do it? Which data should be recorded and why? Was there any real tangible value provided by taking statistics over the short and long term? By the time you’ve asked all those question many of us move on to other items on our schedule.  To read the full article click here

Tip – Choose your words carefully

Where you can, avoid using simple judgmental terms like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as they immediately turn players off.   Successful / unsuccessful, complete / incomplete,  positive / negative  mean the same thing but are not quite as judgmental.   Why is this?   Well take a pass for example,  Player 7 may play a perfectly good ball to Player 11 who doesn’t go for it with any conviction and is beaten to the ball.   This should be recorded against player 7 as a ‘pass incomplete’ as opposed to a ‘bad pass’.   Ever given a player feedback and realised later that you were really praising him, when they thought you were knocking his confidence?

Dynamos Select opt for Statzpack

Dynamo Select were looking for a way to track team statistics and analyze those stats post-match to develop their players and plan training sessions. The club also needed to track playing time for each individual player to ensure equal playing time for the coach, and to communicate this data to the player’s parents. Andrew Naudin is the manager of Dynamo 95-96, a Division 2, U15 boys soccer team from Houston, Texas. He came across Statzpack at the end of 2009 and hasn’t looked back.

“As well as tracking performance measures, a very simple output that the system gives us is a record of the amount of time each player has on the field. It’s calculated automatically. It’s very important for me as a coach, the players and the parents that we have this information and with Statzpack it’s all there for you, you don’t need to manually input the info, no pen and paper, or spreadsheets.”
says coach Andrew.

For the 2009-2010 season, Andrew purchased an iPhone and subscribed to StatzSoccer. According to Andrew, Statzsoccer, with it’s easy to use interface and ability to customize stats collection based on Dynamo Select 95-96’s needs, made it easy to track and share data with individual players and easy to show parents stats and information on their child’s progress as a player.   

“After a few practice sessions with the App we quickly became familiar with the user interface. The support team at Statzpack dealt with all our questions, and importantly listened to our ideas for the App. With the data being sent up to the website done in the background, it was pretty cool to see the data build up on the website. We have saved hours with this system.”

Not only does StatzSoccer enable Andrew to track the teams stats live on the field, it also automatically syncs with the website where the data is presented in charts and tables, making it easier for players and their parents to understand. All the tables and charts are produced for you.   With StatzSoccer each individual player can be given a login and the Dynamos intend to use this feature next season so that players can log in and see their own stats.  For Andrew and the Dynamos team, StatzSoccer not only addressed their issues regarding stats recording, the automatic syncing of the data with the website also allowed players and parents to become more involved with and gain a deeper understanding of player performance. 

So we asked Andrew what his most favorite features of Statzpack were:

1) Ability to use the product on the field in real time.
2) Records playing time for each individual player
3) Individual player login allows players to view their own stats
4) You can create custom actions, allowing him to record whatever stats they want.

Statzpack wishes the Dynamos 95-96 U15’s Div. II team the best of luck for the upcoming soccer season!

Are you watching? How observant are soccer coaches?

So let’s test your awareness.  Watch this video and let us know how you get on.

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It’s said that an average coach will see around 55% of what actually happens in the game, and that same average coach will remember 35% of the events one day after the game.  We’d say that was pretty good.  Often coaches aren’t even quite sure what the score is during a game.   We’ve all been there right?   So looking back over a season how do we really do?  It’s pretty  clear, if we dont record the game stats, the probability is that we won’t remember them, and we sure will not be able to share them.   As coaches we just dont have the capacity to accurately ‘remember the data’. We’re human, after all.