The Soccerbiome : How Individual Talent Influences Team Ecology
Disentangling how important player individual traits from that individual’s skill level in team sports has proven itself to be difficult. Due to the complex nature of teams, especially in sports, statistical analyses such as the Elo rating and plus/minus ratings have been modified to better fit the nuances of team sports. However, these models have shortcomings when identifying how players react and adapt to different scenarios, and do not show how well that player can perform, and only outputs a prediction of their performance versus recorded opposition. With the rise of statistical analyses in sports, novel models in different fields, namely economics with game theory and the Shapley values, have started to be utilized in giving value of contribution to each individual player, rather than the team as a whole. To differentiate an individual’s external factor from their innate factor, and to find how impactful they are in the game, I used Shapley values to contextualize and relate their performance in as game-like a situation as possible. In this study, I measured soccer players’ (n = 10) game-like skill levels through a battery of repeatable and consistent tests and related those values to those players’ Shapley values according to their performances in a small-sided game campaign. I found that the Shapley values and the score that a player received from the battery of tests was relatively positive (r = 0.78, n = 0.066), but did not display enough significance to definitively prove the connection between these two traits of a player. Nevertheless, new methods of statistical analyses have shown themselves to add a new dimension and useability for coaches, players, and analysts to find how any player reacts in an environment according to their skill level and previous environment.
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