## Update: Soccer Analytics in Practice at the Youth Club Level

I took a bit of a break from this series to go off and capture data. My goal was to see if an xG and Luck-based approach to measurement would be useful at the youth club level. Here’s a quick report on my approach (it is reusable) and the results so far.

Approach

1. I built a data input sheet that can be taken to soccer games and used without great knowledge of statistics and soccer.
2. The data input sheet has instructions on the bottom right corner. It’s as simple as putting an ‘x’ on the page where you estimate a shot was taken by your team and an ‘o’ on the page where you estimate a shot was taken by the opposition. If the shot is “on goal” (I make this simple by saying it is on goal if a) it’s a score, b) the goalie touches it, or c) it hits the goal frame) I put a check-mark next to the x or o. If the shot results in a goal, I put a circle around the ‘x’ or the ‘o’. It’s about that easy. Sometimes I’ll put notes near the marks. I like to identify if the shot was the result of a penalty and is a free kick (‘fk’). I also put the scorer’s name near goal marks.
3. After the game, I add up shots on goal for each team and then multiply each shot on goal by the probability of goal in the region it was taken. You can see the legend shows a range of probabilities. I actually use these probabilities starting with the lowest (green)… [0.05, 0.1, 0.15, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 0.8]. My approach is NOT to include penalty kicks in this process because in my opinion, PK’s don’t really speak to what I’m trying to measure, which is expected goals and luck. You might say it demonstrates luck to even get a PK, and I’d agree, but that’s a different kind of luck in my opinion.
4. The total sum of the shots on goal times their probability of goal number equals the team’s expected goals (xG). Luck is calculated by the actual score minus the xG number. See below for an example scored game.

Season Results so Far

I’ve been able to easily collect these metrics so far this season. I believe it is easy enough to delegate to a student team manager (I call them my ‘statistician’) in the Fall season for the school team that I coach. Below are the results for our 2023 club season so far.

Analysis

Here are a few things that are probably obvious.

1. xG appears to be a strong predictor of a win. Note how the higher (light purple) xG for FC Tucson tends to be stronger in wins (left side of the plot) and lower on the right side (ties and losses).
2. They say you make your own luck, but perhaps sometimes it’s just outside of your control (note my previous analysis of luck due to venues and officiating). Maybe just knowing that the luck might be tilted against your team is positive.
3. Sometimes you make your own bad luck too… In the game on the plot where the FC Tucson team showed the most bad luck (Slammers FC), our team totally dominated the game in all aspects. Shots on Goal, Possession, and xG. But some of our bad luck was due to the fact that the Slammer’s best players were defenders and our shots were taken further away.
4. This is a big takeaway… THE SHOT CHARTS ARE REALLY VALUABLE! Though I don’t actually coach this club team I have already been able to sit down with players and parents at their request and describe the flow of the game along with areas where our shot choices were driven by our inattention or even to defensive schemes of the opposition.

LINKS to Other Soccer Analytics Entries