5 Sports Analytics Articles I Read Last Week

basketball1. Biting the Hot Hand: Basketball’s Enduring Streakiness Debate Rages On. A nice piece on the Hot Hand and what we were sure we knew… well know we are not so sure. 

Believing or not believing in the hot hand might change some things about the way a game flows, but even proponents of the hot hand’s existence claim it’s a relatively small effect that doesn’t emerge very often. And that’s part of the challenge in the data, even apart from trying to explain the factors that might lead a player into a better rhythm on a particular day. What is “hot,” statistically? Making two in three shots? Eight in 12? How do we know when to start the streak and when to stop it? How many times do players really get “hot” in a given season? Five? Ten? Two?

f2. Kristan Bromley: Doctor Ice’s quest for Olympic glory. A look at the science behind the skeleton (olympic event as opposed to the body). 

To focus on that aero work in particular, he has sought the help of all and sundry, including the use of the wind tunnels of two F1 teams.

Much like F1, mastering the tweaks and additions that work and don’t work can prove to be a very fine art.

“I’d say that 19 out of 20 times, you do stuff that doesn’t work,” he admits. “You have theories, isolate one thing but then it has an impact on everything else.

“It can work in some ways and have a negative effect in others. But you do get that Eureka moment when it clicks. I think I’ve had that about seven times in my career and that’s certainly helped me to win major championships.”

coach-shouting3. . A big part of our job as an analyst is very much as a communicator – this is a great article on Creating positive learning environments.

“However, traditionally coaching is seen as something that is ‘done’ to the athlete. The coach is the holder of knowledge, the athlete a thirsty puppy ready to lap up knowledge given, and the coaches wisdom  is to go unchallenged. Coaching shouldn’t be blamed for this, after all, the Ancient Greek philosophers believed knowledge to be stable and coherent across contexts (Jardine, 2005). To this end, knowledge is universal, there is one reality, and those who know that reality become teachers of it. This line of thinking has underpinned education policy globally, though recently this school of though is being challenged.”

nate-silver24. Nate Silver Skeptical of Big Data Trends, Keys in on Culture. This is a great summary of Nate Silver’s keynote at a recent conference in the US.

“A lot of success in business, and certainly when it comes to the use of analytics, is just stripping away the things that get in the way from understanding and distract you. Its not some wave a magic wand and have some formula where you uncover all the secrets of the world. Its more like, if you can strip away the noise than you’re going to have a much clearer understanding of what’s really there.”

5. Shattering the Limits of Human Potential. A fascinating look at what Red Bull actual does for athletes. Who knew they did more than jump out of spaceships! There is way more in the article but I loved this video.

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