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Exploring history

Marv Dunphy's thesis on John Wooden explores historical methodology in the unfolding of a biography (link). In his introduction, Marv looks at the 'great man theory of history'. Marv supported the 'great man' theory. Marv noted that one of the limitations of his study was that of impartiality in historical accounts. He added "even though the writer and the coach conversed at great length, the time was limited by the living circumstances of each" (1981:6). In the justification of his thesis, Marv observed "without history we have...

Playing in the Park

I have the good fortune to walk past the new play area in Ryrie Park each day. I marvel at the use that is being made of the play space. It is everything I hoped for in the positioning of play at the heart of our culture. The playground was officially opened on 1 November (link). Recently, Paul Cockram wrote "the new playground at Ryrie Park is a great example of successful cooperation between the community and the council" (link). Alex Rea summarised the changes to the...


Introduction Stephen Downes (link) has shared in his daily newsletter a Ben Werdmuller post (link) about blogging. I read Stephen's summary and Ben's post with great interest. It renewed for me my thoughts about how we use social media to share ideas. And how we might cite such sources as authentic, valid and reliable sources. I have spent a great deal of time recently looking at the literature about performance analysis and performance analytics. I am struck by how such a vibrant literature...

Early days at Liverpool and the emergence of analysis

Introduction in the 1970s, Liverpool Polytechnic was at the heart of the debate about sport science. Vaughan Thomas, Tom Reilly and Frank Sanderson were right in the middle of this debate and set in place structures that promoted sport science. Vaughan arrived in 1971, Frank in 1973. Tom was at Liverpool before Frank arrived. I was teaching physical education at the time and had started doing some hand notation in real time. This meant that I did keep an eye on what the...

Curating a sport informatics and analytics open education resource

Last month, Bradley Boehmke and Brandon Greenwell published a guide to machine learning with R, it was titled Hands-On Machine Learning with R. I have included a link to this publication on the Pattern Recognition page of the Sport Informatics and Analytics course I curate on Wikieducator (link). I have been curating the course since 2015 and each day I monitor the literature to see if anything should be added to the pages. What is to be included in these pages was brought into focus by a...

John Robert Wooden: the coaching process

Alexis Lebedew (link) alerted me to Marv Dunphy's Doctor of Education thesis on John Wooden. Alexis kindly shared a pdf of the thesis with me. Marv submitted his thesis to Brigham Young University in August 1981. The title of the thesis is the title of this post, John Robert Wooden: The Coaching Process. Marv's acknowledgement noted John's support of the study and their friendship that grew through it. Much of his thesis includes verbatim statements by John, his assistants and players.

A longing for the north

Fires are raging in northern New South Wales. The ABC reports that "more than 850,000 hectares of land have been razed since the start of this year's bushfire season" (link). A catastrophic warning is in place for Greater Sydney, Illawara, Shoalhaven and the Greater Hunter on Tuesday. Last week, my fire zone, Lake George, requested volunteers to go the fires as members of a strike team. To date "more than 1,400 personnel from interstate had joined the firefighting effort in NSW". 400 more were set to...

Bayesian additive regression trees

Asmi Toumi and Michael Lopez (2019) (link) have been investigating ice hockey. They presented their work at the New England Symposium on Statistics in Sport (link). In their introduction Asmi and Michael note they use "two matching methods – propensity score matching and Bayesian additive regression trees" to "leverage player-tracking data to estimate the causal benefits due to zone-entry decisions". Asmi and Michael note that both approaches "better account for the variables that affect entry choice". I was particularly interested in Asmi...

#RWC2019: Game Content

The official 2019 Rugby World Cup website provided statistical information for each of the 48 games played (link). I have curated some of these data in a GitHub repository (link). I used ggplot with the geom_point size function to visualise some of the game content from these curated data. I have indicated the range of data available for the game content presented. Passes Kicks Lineouts


The software application Glide (link) enables you to create an app from a Google Sheet. I use Google Sheets for all my data so the discovery of Glide has been very beneficial. I used data from RWC 2019 (link) to try out the basic functionality of Glide. I created two apps: Referees at RWC 2019 The app includes a QR code for sharing: Cards Given at RWC 2019:

Out of the box

I have had an opportunity to watch some daytime television and have discovered Jack Stein's Inside the Box (link). Jack "takes ten of Britain’s most historically famous meals to countries where they are far less well known, and far less well loved". In each country, he invites a chef to help him. On his visit to Malmo in Sweden (to make Welsh Rarebit) he asked Titti Qvarnström to help him. This episode brought back memories of the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen (link) and reminded me just how...

#RWC2019; what kind of games?

Forty six games have been completed at RWC2019 (link). Going into the semi finals, I wondered how each of the four teams might adapt their passing and kicking strategies and the importance they attached to lineouts and scrums. My record of the two semi finals taken from the official website: The Wales v South Africa game had the lowest number of passes and highest number of kicks in the tournament to date. The England v New Zealand game had...

Decision intelligence

Cassie Kozyrkov has been writing about decision intelligence (link). She noted that decision intelligence was a new discipline that "brings together the best of applied data science, social science, and managerial science into a unified field that helps people use data to improve their lives". Cassie proposes that decision intelligence is "the discipline of turning information into better actions at any scale". In her post, she defines some terms: A decision: any selection between options by any entity.

Game outcomes: three international rugby league games

Three international rugby league games between Australia and New Zealand were played on 25 October (link). I have been using ggplot (link) to visualise the scoring patterns and game outcomes in games. In these three games, I used geom_step (link), geom_rug (link) and some theme formats (link) to structure the data. I have also tried to use the appropriate Hex colours (link) for teams. Junior Kangaroos Jillaroos Australia

Working with data in sport

Introduction There is a lot of discussion at the moment about data analysis and its role in sport. In addition to social media conversations about data, a number of newsletters this week have raised data issues. These include: discussions about data translators (link); futzing and moseying (link); and analysis as detective work (link). These alerts sent me off looking at: John Tukey; Sara Alspaugh, Nava Zokaei, Andrea Liu, Cindy Jin and Marti A. Hearst; Anne Fisher; Nathan Yau and Sean Taylor.