A connected sport system at one with itself

Sean Ingle has a delightful article in the Australian Guardian online today.

In it he discusses Norway’s performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The sentence that struck me forcefully was:

They stress the importance of the umbilical link between grassroots and elite sport … local sports clubs are a core part of their success. (My emphasis)

Elsewhere in the article:

Before you are 12 you should have fun with sport. … we are very focused on getting children into our 11,000 local sports clubs. And we have 93% of children and young people regularly playing sport in these organisations.

Norway’s sports federation has an annual budget of £13.7m for summer and winter sports. To put that into context, UK Sport has a budget of £137.5m a year to fund elite Olympic sport, of which £8m is ploughed into winter sports.

it is also not uncommon for … top athletes paying poorer ones to come along to training camps.

we believe … that success should be from working hard and being together.

I think these are very powerful messages at a time when Australian Olympic sport has an identity problem in policy and governance.

We must address the umbilical links in our sport system. I am not proposing a Norwegian model but believe that many share some of the messages in Sean’s article.

We will flourish as a connected sport system in which we care for everyone. We can do this ethically, without lottery funding … and extensive use of asthma medication.

Photo Credit

Trollstigen (Peter Makus, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Anna Espenschade: notating and analysing field hockey in 1936


Anna Espenschade is rarely mentioned in the discussion of performance analysis in field hockey.

I have reported her work in Clyde Street posts but in the context of basketball (with Nancy Miner and Pauline Hodgson, 1940).

I have no excuse for missing her 1936 paper on field hockey. In her valedictory article for Anna, Roberta Park (2000:100) notes that Anna had been involved in field hockey from 1920 and was named left halfback on the All United States Reserve Field Hockey Team in 1925 (2000:103). She was Chair of the Pacific Southwest Section of the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA), was involved in the development of officiating and became a National ‘A’ umpire. She was vice president of the USFHA 1938-1940 (2000:103).

Roberta makes explicit mention of Anna’s hockey paper in her summary of Anna’s publications (2000:107) and it is included as reference 93 (2000:114). Roberta would have known Anna well. Roberta was a colleague of Anna’s, at the University of California, Berkeley, from the mid-1950s when she was appointed as an assistant supervisor in physical education. Anna had been at the University for two decades prior to Roberta’s arrival on the staff.

Recording Field Hockey

Anna’s 1936 paper, An Analysis of Activity Records of Field Hockey Players, appears in volume 7(3) of the Research Quarterly (pp.62-74).

The paper reports information from 500 records of positional play (1936:63). 48 players (from three ability groups) were observed during the study.

Literature review

Anna notes in the introduction to her paper “no studies have been made to determine whether or not all positions with the exception of goalkeeper are equally strenuous” (1936:62). Her paper includes one reference: Lloyd Messersmith and Stephen Corey, 1931, The Distance Traversed by a Basketball Player.


The purpose of her paper was “to determine the distances traveled and the rate of speed of movement of players in the various positions of the field hockey team”. (1936:62)


Anna delimited her study to five field positions: center forward, right and left halfback, right and left fullback. She noted that “some of these positions were studied more thoroughly than others”. (1936:62)


The paper reports data collected in real-time by two research assistants, Mildred Martin and Mae Moore. Mildred and Mae stood on a terrace above the hockey field (possibly the terrace shown in this picture of the Hearst Gym West Field from the late 1940s).

They traced the path of players on a scaled sheet of stiff cardboard (the scale used was eleven yards to the inch) fixed to a drawing board. Translucent onion-skin paper was overlaid on the cardboard template of the field. They tracked players for a three-minute interval (“the longest time period practical for making legible records” and “it divided the official sixty-minute game into a convenient number of parts” (1936:62)).

Each sheet contained: name and field position of player observed; date; path of player; number of times the ball was played; number of seconds rested. (1936:63)

The notation of the three-minute intervals included “a small circle … each time the player under observation hit the ball”. (1936:62) A stopwatch was used to time when players under observation stood still.

Observer agreement

Anna reports the practice undertaken to ensure and assure the accuracy of the records taken by Mildred and Mae. (1936:63)

I take it from her discussion that she focused on inter-observer agreement as there is no explicit mention of intra-observer agreement procedures. Anna used an agreement within 5 per cent of total distance and time for simultaneous records. She notes that after four weeks of consistent practice, forty-five minutes of records “showed an average deviation from the mean in time of 1.6 per cent; in distance of 5.4 per cent”. (1936:63) She provides information about subsequent accuracy measures.

The distances notated by the observers was measured “at least four different times” by two students. If their inter-observer agreement exceeded 5 per cent of the total additional measurements were made. (1936:63)

Distances traveled

Anna reported these data:

Source: A. Espenschade (1936:64)

Visualisation of data

Anna’s paper includes a number of visualisations:

Positional tracks (1936:67)

Areas covered (1936:68)

Distances (1936:71)


Anna concludes her paper with eleven summary points. These make fascinating reading for anyone interested in movement patterns in field hockey.

Reflection on Anna’s work

I am disappointed to have overlooked this paper for so long. It is an important paper in the history of notational analysis. Elsewhere on Clyde Street, I have written about other researchers in the 1930s and their interest in distances traveled and traversed. I have mentioned Anna in these accounts.

Anna’s field hockey paper stands in the middle of a decade of research. Anna cites Lloyd Messersmith and Stephen Corey (1931). Lloyd and Stephen’s paper has no reference to earlier work. Anna’s (1940) paper co-authored with Pauline Hodgson and Nancy Miner, used some of the tracking methodologies reported in her 1936 paper. The 1940 paper refers to two earlier papers by Pauline (1936, 1939) but not to Anna’s 1936 paper.

All of these are important primary source material as we contemplate our methodologies in quite a different age, but one that stands upon the shoulders of these pioneers.


Espenschade, A. (1936). An Analysis of Activity Records of Field Hockey Players. Research Quarterly. American Physical Education Association, 7(3), 62-74.

Hodgson, P. (1936) Studies in the Physiology of Activity: II, On Certain Reactions of College Women Following Participation in Two-Court Basketball. Research Quarterly, VII (2), 45-55.

Hodgson, P. (1939) Studies in the Physiology of Activity: III, On Certain Reactions of College Women Following Participation in Three-Court Basketball. Research Quarterly, X (3), 53-60.

Messersmith, L., & Corey, S. (1931). The distance traversed by a basketball player. Research Quarterly. American Physical Education Association, 2(2), 57-60.

Miner, N., Hodgson, P. & Espenschade, A. (1940) Study of Distance Traversed and Time Spent in Active Play in Women’s Basketball. Research Quarterly, XI (1), 94-101.

Park, R. (2000) Time Given Freely to Worthwhile Causes: Anna S. Espenschade’s Contributions to Physical Education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 71 (2), 99-115.

Photo Credits

Anna Espenschade (Roberta Park)

Field Hockey – Hearst Gym West Field late 1940’s (PE.Berkeley.edu)

#WLeague 2017-2018: goal scoring and game outcomes

The 2017-2018 W-League season ended at the weekend with Melbourne City’s victory over Sydney in the Grand Final.

During the season, I used the Westfield W-League match centre as my source of secondary data to monitor goal scoring and game outcome.

My analysis of the data on 57 games played is:

Scoring first and not losing

46 games were won by the team scoring first.

6 games were drawn by the team scoring first.

Scoring first and losing

There were four games in which the team scored first lost.

Newcastle v Canberra (Round 4)

Melbourne Victory v Perth (Round 4)

Melbourne Victory v Brisbane (Round 10)

Melbourne City v Melbourne Victory (Round 11)

When were goals scored?

194 goals were scored during the season: 93 in the first half; 100 in the second; and 1 in extra time. The home teams scored 103 goals and the away teams 91. There was one 0v0 draw (Melbourne Victory v Brisbane in Round 12).

In 15 minute time intervals, these goals were scored:

Shots at goal and goals scored

The W-League Stats Centre recorded 1609 shots at goal during the season of which 611 were noted as ‘on target’ (a shots per goal measure of 12.06).

Visualising Performance

Andrew Howe has visualised goals scored for and against in the W-League from the start of the competition in the 2008-2009 season. His circular plot is a very powerful interactive resource.

My search for Melbourne City’s performance in 2017-2018 before this year’s grand final revealed:

I do think this is an outstanding resource for anyone interested in the history of the competition. It also sets a standard for how we visualise performance data.

Photo Credit

Three in a row (Westfield W-League, Twitter)