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Football has always relied on performance data to evaluate players and teams, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies to improve performance. In recent years, the use of optical tracking technology has become increasingly popular as a way to capture and analyse performance data. Some of the major reasons being the digitalisation of the sport, the emergence of mobile devices and 4G technology which has brought the fans even closer to the game. They got very hungry, very fast for more details, more content all the time. So how does optical tracking compare to the established data extraction practices?

Traditional football performance data practices include statistical analysis of various metrics such as passes, shots, goals, assists, tackles, interceptions, and more. These metrics are collected manually by a team of data analysts who watch every game and record every event. The data is then used to evaluate player and team performance, identify areas of improvement, and develop strategies to enhance performance.

One of the benefits of established performance data practices is that they are relatively easy to collect and analyse. Data analysts can use software programs to automate the collection and analysis of performance data, which makes the process faster and more efficient. Moreover, the statistical analysis of performance data is well established and widely used, making it easy to compare and benchmark performance across different players and teams.

However, established performance data practices have some limitations. First, the data collected is limited to the events that data analysts can see and record. This means that many aspects of player and team performance are not captured, such as movement off the ball, body position, and communication between players. Second, the data collected is often not very granular, which means that it can be difficult to identify subtle differences in performance. Finally, the data collected is often subjective, as data analysts may have different interpretations of what constitutes a successful or unsuccessful event.

Optical tracking is a relatively new technology that uses cameras and sensors to capture real-time data on player and ball movement during a game. The data collected includes the speed and direction of players, the distance covered, the number of touches, passes, and shots taken, and much more. This data is then analysed using software programs to provide insights into player and team performance.

The main benefit of optical tracking is that it provides a much more comprehensive and accurate picture of player and team performance. It captures all aspects of player and ball movement, including off-the-ball movements, which are often overlooked in traditional performance data practices. Moreover, the data collected is very granular, which means that it can be used to identify subtle differences in player and team performance.

However, optical tracking presents some challenges. The data collected is very complex, and it can be difficult to interpret and use effectively without the right tools and expertise.

Overall, both established football performance data practices and optical tracking have their benefits and limitations. Established performance data practices are well-established, easy to collect and analyse, and provide a good baseline for evaluating player and team performance. On the other hand, optical tracking provides a much more comprehensive and accurate picture of performance, but it is more complex and resource-intensive.

In the near future, it is likely that a combination of established performance data practices and optical tracking will be used to provide the most complete and accurate picture of player and team performance. However, regardless of the approach used, it is important to remember that performance data is just one tool in the arsenal of football coaches and analysts. Ultimately, the most important factor in football performance is the skill, dedication, and teamwork of the players on the field.

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