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Unlocking Player Performance Insights With League-Specific KPI Benchmarking

Within the context of world-class and professional sports, the tiniest variance can make all the difference. Consider the Premier League, a gathering of a few hundred of the greatest footballers on earth at any given moment. The least among them may be head and shoulders more effective, or talented, than all but a handful of other human beings who don’t make their living in the EPL. But because of the slimmest of margins – maybe a fraction of a second here or a couple centimeters there – that player rarely, if ever, sees the pitch in a Premier League match.

At the competition levels we’re discussing, the slightest disparities among players – and the thousands of choices made over the course of a season based on those distinctions – can dash or fulfill championship ambitions and make or break careers. For player performance evaluators and practitioners, detecting and interpreting these differences and deviations among their own players is the crux of the daily challenge. Past player performance in game situations, fatigue levels and injury risk all factor into a club’s decision making, but until somewhat recently much of the process was dictated by educated guesswork and intuition.

The refinement of new technologies has since helped transform player evaluation into a science, one driven by observable data – and lots of it. No eyeball test or amount of experience can compete with advanced player-tracking tech, comprehensive data aggregation and AI-powered insights. Given the right tools, it’s astonishing what can be learned about players as compared to their peers. In fact, that is the key to these tools’ effectiveness: comparative analysis.

The Power of Contextualized Data

What exactly do we mean when we describe a player as fast? How about strong? Before even considering more complex kinetic concepts (such as skill), it’s important to think about precisely how we define certain broad athletic abstractions that we may sometimes take for granted. It comes down to relativity.

In every case, player performance evaluation is a comparative exercise. An evaluation may focus on a single characteristic, for example: speed. But a player’s speed over 100M varies drastically to that of their speed over 5M, or their ability to accelerate while already in motion versus initial explosiveness. But the conclusions drawn from that analysis are always grounded by existing baselines – whether they be the player’s own, his teammates’ or those of his peers across a league. Auditing speed, strength and any number of other athletic concepts is impossible without previous context.

Accurate Player Evaluation By Accurate Comparison

With advanced performance evaluation tools, such as Sportlight’s LiDAR- and AI-powered player tracking system, clubs now have the ability to accurately record the comprehensive movements of every player across games, practices and training sessions, and aggregate the data to provide insights into player abilities. This feedback helps clubs better understand current player value, potential, injury risk and progress within a rehabilitation program, all through what can simply be described as apples-to-apples comparisons.

Spotlight offers clubs detailed, contextualized KPI benchmarking, which becomes far more valuable when the system is proliferated throughout a league. With league-specific benchmarks, organizations can receive automated ranking feedback that describes player characteristics relative to their league and position. Situational, match-specific force-velocity profiling recorded delivers rich, game-speed data to Sportlight users. And with peak demand and epoch curve tracking, the system not only provides cutting-edge data to help support drill design and refine physical development training, but also supports return-to-play programming.

Modern player evaluation starts with the accurate measurement of a player’s physical metrics. But it is instant access to comprehensive and contextualized data – ideally, across a league – that empowers an organization to optimize player performance, maintain athlete health and develop a well-rounded roster that ultimately embodies a club’s vision.

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