Prozone explained: It’s invaluable

Wolves match analyst James Lovell gave an hour-long presentation on the Prozone statistical analysis system to the Fans Parliament.

He told the audience that even every Championship club used Prozone or other systems like it to provide statistical data but that Wolves now had the top level of service available of the gadget.

I take my lap-top to games and a match is recorded straight on to it. Ideally, we want no action replays because they use up space and we also prefer filming at wide angle, so the management team can see the whole picture. We have eight cameras round the pitch so we get the clean feed we want, but, from away games, you get what footage you’re given.

I can’t have the lap-top in the dug-out but it’s available at half-time and full-time to Mick and his staff. He might want to look back at a refereeing decision before he attends the press conference but it also helps with diagnosis and treatment to see how an injury might have been caused.

Then they send the recording to Prozone, who gather a wide range of statistics aimed largely at establishing players fitness levels and contribution.

The areas covered are not just the number of crosses, passes, tackles and efforts at goal, as the traditional measures were, but also a count-up of entries by individuals and teams into the last third of the field, or into the penalty area, and of the distance covered by players – even down to what pace the players have had. Basically, it shows every player’s ‘events’ in the game.

James said to the Fans Parliament that the Prozone system rather complimented ‘scouting’ work rather than replaced it. You’ll still see more by actually being present at a game. The data tells clubs where they are placed in the various fitness tables but didn’t, because of confidentiality agreements, point out which clubs were above or below them.

He also talked about the players reaction to the system

Being competitive, they want to know how they compare with their team-mates, so there is banter. Sometimes, a match is watched, especially at Academy level, by the lads on their own, so they can try to work out what improvements are needed before the coaches go through things with them. You’ll often see the first-team players watching in groups of three or four – or maybe the defenders looking together.”

But the scope is very wide. Ronald Zubar asked before the Villa game for some clips and information on Ashley Young, so I got them for him. And Pat Mountain (the goalkeeper coach) always likes to get trends about how opposition players take penalties.

Jez Moxey about the Prozone system

It’s invaluable because the camera doesn’t lie – not eight of them anyway! We aim to get every last sinew of effort at optimum levels and this data helps determine what the following week’s training programme will be.

We’re becoming more and more scientific in our approach but you can have brain overload, so the coaches pick and choose when and how they use the information and how much the players are able to absorb because some are more interested than others in the analytical approach. It would, however, be remiss of us not to use the system because all clubs are – it’s just the way you use it that might give you an advantage.

Wolves also became the first in the country to use the programme Xeatre, who provide a massive library of games played elsewhere. James Lowell explains:

It’s mainly for looking at forthcoming opponents. In other words, who scores their goals and how, who provides the assists, what they do at set-pieces. This is mainly a job for Thursday and Friday before a weekend match.

Xeatre is also used for scouting players. Jez Moxey:

I’d rather not say how much it all costs but we’re buying disks for storage, taking more people on in this area, etc.

Asked about the danger that the technology will take over from human decisions James Lowell responded:

It’s the balance that’s important. “It’s not an every-day, all-day thing. I don’t know what the next five or ten years will bring but I’m sure the analyst people will think of something!

I for one applaud this development. And it looks like Wolves are using it in the right way. And I know that Mick McCarthy and others are very keen at looking into if players not only are skilled on the pitch but also if they fit into the team socially. I hope that these technologies will be available for the common supporter soon as well. But it will probably take some time…


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~ by paddytheflea on December 3, 2009.

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