Seattle Sounders FC Visualizes Player Data with Tableau
Major League Soccer Club leverages data to analyze players' fitness and
readiness and maintain health throughout the season
SEATTLE, July 7, 2014
SEATTLE, July 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Seattle Sounders FC, the Major League
Soccer club based in Seattle, Wash., has found an innovative edge over the
competition: data. The Sounders use Tableau to visualize massive amounts of
data generated from wearable technology on its players and systems designed to
track their movements and health.
Tableau Software logo www.tableausoftware.com
To measure players' performance and effectiveness, the team collects data on
its players sleep patterns, GPS positioning on the field, the speed and
distance they run in practice and in games and more. A team of four, led by
performance manager David Tenney, analyzes this data and creates visual
reports using Tableau. The Sounders' coaches use these reports to make
data-driven decisions about training schedules and regimens, all with the goal
of keeping players healthy and at peak performance.
"In the last five years, the power of technology in sports, and wearables in
particular, has caught hold," said David Tenney, the Sounders' Sports Science
and Performance Manager. "This technology generates a wealth of data on our
players, from our preseason practices all the way through our regular season.
Our coaches aren't data scientists—but Tableau lets us give them visually
clear reports to see how players are performing and make informed decisions
about the team."
Sounders players are equipped with multiple data-gathering devices that help
Tenney's team track their movements, vital signs, and health. For instance,
players wear a harness to track their forward, backward, and sideways motions,
while a series of cameras placed around the field track players' positions and
automatically generate coordinates on X and Y axes based upon their movements.
Tenney's team even tracks players' sleep habits through wristband monitors and
run this data through an algorithm that can predict a player's reaction time.
While there are many tools available to gather and monitor the huge amounts of
data these systems output, the Sounders needed a solution that would let them
visualize data from multiple sources in one place and create reports that
time-strapped coaches can easily see and understand.
In early 2013, Tenney's team began using Tableau to generate visual reports
and connect the dots within this data. Coaches use these reports to conduct
post-training and post-game assessments, create rankings of players, and
ultimately to inform strategies to keep players healthy and fresh for games.
"Because our coaches can understand this data visually, they're able to gain
insights not visible to the naked eye like data on a players speed,
acceleration, and distance," said Tenney. "The result is that we can structure
our workouts and trainings to keep players healthier and fresher at the end of
games. The impact is quantifiable—we're scoring more than a third of our goals
in the last 15 minutes of each game."
With a long, 34-game season, keeping fresh legs under its players is a
critical issue for the Sounders. The rigors of training, matches, traveling,
community activities and more that come with being a Major League Soccer
player can take their toll. By tracking and analyzing players' data, the
Sounders are able to stay ahead of the curve and even gain a leg up on the
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