England football boss Gareth Southgate has revealed how he uses data analysis to manage and train his squad.
He told an audience in London that, within 12 hours of a match featuring one of his players, he could access data on their performance – wherever the game was played.
Southgate, whose team is currently preparing for Euro 2020, was speaking at a Google Cloud Next event.
He said he had even crunched data on “thousands” of penalty shootouts.
It was only within the past six months, Southgate pointed out, that coaches had been allowed to use iPads in the dugout.
“You’ll see other sports such as rugby for example, the coaches sit in the stand and they can get live data feedback,” he said.
The England boss said he now keenly gathered information on his players’ appearances at matches shortly after they had finished.
“Within 12 hours of the game, I know wherever my players are in Europe, I can access how they played, how far they’ve run,” he said.
And that information helps Southgate decide which players to select for upcoming fixtures.
Additionally, by analysing footage of thousands of penalty shootouts, he and his team work out the preferences of outfield players and goalkeepers, to improve England’s strategy for such crucial set-pieces.
But sharing too much data with players could make them play worse.
“When I took over, there were no records of the past older England managers that have been over 30 years,” Southgate said.
“Now, everything we do is stored, everything we do is shared.
“We are awash with data, and that’s great – but what’s the bit that makes a difference?
“In football, we’re a low scoring game with a lot of random events and so blips in the data you can read too much into.
“Ultimately, the player and the players still have to have the nerve to put the ball on the spot and execute.
“But there are some consistent things that we know that we need to do to be able to win.
“The most important thing for us is to avoid injury.
“Therefore the training load is a really key piece of data for us, which helps the other club as well, because if we overload the player physically there is more chance of getting injured”.