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Coordinating individual training of professional soccer players through data analysis: A project in cooperation with SV Werder Bremen
August 11, 2021
It's about finding the balance between stress and regeneration: How can data analysis be used to improve the training of professional soccer players, increase their performance, and minimize their susceptibility to injury? This was the question addressed in a cooperative project between the Data Engineering Master’s Program at Jacobs University and the SV Werder Bremen Soccer Club.
Sports medicine data on heart rate, strength, speed, endurance, mobility, nutrition, and players' injury histories are now plentiful. Many soccer clubs are working hard on finding ways to use this data as profitably as possible. For this purpose, SV Werder Bremen has made use of the expertise of Jacobs University. As part of an advanced course of their Data Engineering studies, three master's students worked on anonymized data records of the German football league team SV Werder Bremen in a project that lasted several months. One of them, Ishansh Gupta, developed his master's thesis from the semester project.
The students' task was to first standardize the data from the different sources and then, with different formats, to connect them and to visualize them," explained Professor Stefan Kettemann, coordinator of the study program. "In a second step, correlations were established, for example, between training content, the amount of training, and injury frequency."
Joint projects with companies are not unusual for the study program at Jacobs University; however, this is the first time that there has been a collaboration with a soccer club. "Data is everywhere, it permeates all areas of life," said Kettemann. "Our students not only gain theoretical knowledge, but they can apply it in projects from their first semester on," he added.
Werder Bremen assessed the collaboration and the insights gained extremely positively. "We have been analyzing a lot of data for several years, including in the area of individual endurance management. We are interested in optimizing the performance of players by finding the right balance between exertion, regeneration, and injury prevention. The project with Jacobs University was a very exciting and helpful experience for this," said Werder's sporting director Frank Baumann. There was also great satisfaction from a technical point of view. “Our expectations of the project were exceeded in terms of data cleansing, its processing and visualization, and the resulting gain in knowledge," said Nico Hruby, Chief Digital Officer of Werder Bremen.
Ishansh Gupta's master's thesis (entitled "Enhancing Football and Athletics using Data Science”) takes an even more in-depth look at the data than the semester project. Based on the data, he defined "wellness zones" for individual players, such as those in which they are fully trained and fit and less susceptible to injury. "By monitoring various health data, training can become more targeted. Data analysis can help make players better,” said the graduate. “There’s no doubt about that,” agreed Hendro Wicaksono, Professor of Industrial Engineering at Jacobs University, who supervised Ishansh Gupta's master's thesis. "When individual players get better, the whole team benefits," he observed.
Questions can be addressed to: Prof. Dr. Stefan Kettemann Program Coordinator Data Engineering Professor for Complex Systems Tel: +49 421 200-3521 Email: s.kettemann [at] jacobs-university.de