Data scientist: Making sure there is 'no place to hide'
Written by Simon Austin — July 28, 2017
SOUTHAMPTON first team data scientist Laura Bowen has given a fascinating insight into her role during pre-season - saying her purpose is to give players 'no place to hide'.
Data scientists play a crucial role in pre-season testing and training. Bowen told Southampton FC: "Every single training and pre-season match the players wear their GPS units and heart rate monitors. That gives us an idea of the physical demands of the sessions.
"The aim of pre-season is for the demands go up as you get toward the season, so the time spent at a high heart rate is higher the fitter the players get. At the moment we’re tracking every single session live, which means for every player, for every single second, we get a piece of data through and that accumulates over the session.
"Every second my iPad refreshes with data. The metric we look to overload will depend on the type of session. As the players are going through the sprints, for example, I can see on the iPad what speeds they’re reaching. Then the manager and players come over and check where they’re at. Then they go again and see if they can beat their personal speed or beat each other.
"Everything the players do is compared to a game, so we can see how well training is preparing them for match demands. We are also looking at how this pre-season compares to last season and the season before.
"We’ve obviously had three managers in that time, so we look at how those different training styles effect the players and their fitness levels, to see if we can push certain players a little further, especially the lads who have come in late to pre-season, like Prowsey (James Ward-Prowse) and Nathan (Redmond).
"They’ve had less time training than the others so it’s about making sure they are gradually introduced to the new training regime and are topped up to the same level. We make the training really individual for every player.
"Everyone has different demands depending on their position, their past injuries and how many games they’ve played in recently. These coaches and the manager really buy into the numbers. They’ll pull out players that aren’t quite putting a shift in in training or congratulate the players who have worked the hardest, hit the highest speeds or whatever it is in that session.
"So there really is no place to hide now."