What is Sports Analytics

Sun, Sep 6, 2015 | Greg Wagner


Sports analytics is an interesting topic because sports involves stringent rules and definite outcomes like science, but involves humans with their physical, mental and emotional limitations. You are applying analytic methods to something that has both strict rules and result, and is governed and implemented by imperfect people.

In the perfect sports world, the better person or team will always win, but, of course, this does not always happen. Outcomes of games are affected by an unexpected rain storm, making the football slippery for the long snapper, a pitcher that had an argument with his girlfriend before a start taking his head out of the game, or a striker whose ankle is completely healed and prepared to play a great match.

Sports analytics involves two parts of the analysis puzzle, data collection and modeling. The first part is collection and filtering of the data.This site will allow you to search, view and download sports statistics in an easy but powerful way. Articles and tools on this will help you find out which statistics are important and which ones are noise. The hard numbers of statistics allow you to understand the uncertainties of sports.

These uncertainties are represented by forming models and probabilities which is used to estimate match ups and to represent the uncertainties of those estimates. There are also articles and tools that will instruct you on how to make those performance estimates and how to analyze them.

Combining the two parts of collecting data and modeling the data will allow you to make informed predictions of athletic performance and give estimated outcomes.

Most of my understanding of sports analytics comes from the books Analytic Methods in Sports by Thomas Severini and The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.