The Pitch 2.0 & Assist Location

In the first handful of blog posts from TSA we have explained how we use a range of scientific principles from behavioral science and psychology in our work with professional football players. For instance, we have explained how we use “The Pitch” to communicate shot location data. Also, we have mentioned how we calculated the number “OP-X”, which can tell a player’s effectiveness in the box.

In this blog post we will shift focus. Now we will explain how we not only are capable of helping players score more goals. In TSA we also are capable of helping players to make more assists.

Before we elaborate this, we will present an alternative version of “The Pitch”, which we have invented since we realized that in some cases the understanding of data will benefit from data being arranged in larger groups. We call it “The Pitch 2.0” and it is visualized below.

“The Pitch 2.0” is a visual representation of a football pitch (just like the version of “The Pitch”, we presented earlier). The difference is only that some of the cells from “The Pitch” are grouped together in “The Pitch 2.0”, why this version consists of fewer distinct areas.

More precisely this new version of the pitch consists of three tracks on each side of the pitch. These are Goal Box Track, Penalty Box Track and Flank Track. Furthermore, the longitudinal direction is also divided in six. The Penalty Box sets the line for the first and the last sixth on both halves. As you see, “The Pitch 2.0” is constructed on principles from behavioral science and psychology (based on the visual input from the chalk lines of a football pitch) just as the original version of the pitch is.

Assists in Open Play
We realized that “The Pitch 2.0” was an excellent tool for visualizing data regarding assists. Therefore, we started collecting data systematically from the European Top Five Leagues concerning where assists are made in open play. The results are illustrated below. The number indicates the percentage of assists made in a given area of the pitch in open play.

This framework enables us to work with “Assist Location”. In our next blog post we will elaborate how we do this when working with professional football players.

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