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How to capture game data

Overview

If you are trying to figure out how to capture game data using the Football Stats app, then you have come to the right place. This article explains how to create a game in the first place, how to record events in the game, and how to indicate that the game has finished.

Starting out

Start out by tapping on the launch icon for the app. This will always bring you to the list of teams that you have statistics for. Tap on the team of interest. If there are no teams in the list, tap on the + icon in the top right of the navigation bar to create a new team.

Creating a new team

If you have tapped on the + icon in the top right of the navigation bar to create a new team, then you will need to specify the team details. use the year, gender, age restriction, competition, club and division to provide a clear description of the team. This is often enough to create a unique team name. If not, add the team name as well, (e.g. Wombats).

Beside the team name is a color swatch. It should be the main color for the team (e.g. red for Manchester United etc.). It is helpful to avoid selecting very pale colors for teams because they do not show up well in charts.

If the team is playing football (soccer) as opposed to futsal, then ensure that the ball type is identified as a football rather than a futsal ball. This setting for the team affects the type of markings shown on the football fields used in the Football Stats app.

If the team is playing football (soccer) as opposed to futsal, then ensure that the ball type is identified as a football rather than a futsal ball. This setting for the team affects the type of markings shown on the football fields used in the Football Stats app.

Finally, select the typical size of the field that the team plays on. This becomes the default size for all of the team's games. The field size can be overridden for each game if you want to be very precise but it is helpful to get a reasonable default field size when you create a new game.

All fields are rendered to scale. Fields that are smaller than would be allowed by the "Laws of the Game" are simplified (with penalty boxes removed etc.) to ensure that they render in a sensible manner. This makes it helpful to use reasonably accurate field length and width values. The closer you are to the correct length and width of the field, the easier it will be to capture accurate event positions for the game data and the easier it will be to interpret game analytics that are superimposed upon a football or futsal field.

Adding team members

If you want to use the app to track substitutions, add each player in the team to the list of team members (accessible via the button at the top of the team details screen. Include their shirt numbers. Include their GMail email addresses if you also wish to share the game analytics with them.

Team members do not have to be players. You can include other team members if you want to share game data and analysis with them. If you include a team member that is not a player, turn off the player switch for that member. Then the non-playing member can access team data (if you have provided their GMail address) but they will not be an option when flagging a substitution event during a game.

Creating a new team

Once you are happy with the team details, you will want to add a new game for that team. Tap on the large games button at the top of the team details screen to view the list of games for the team.

If you have only just installed the Football Stats app, then you will be prompted to run through a quick demo of how game data is collected. This is well worth doing within the app and it only takes a minute or two. If you do not want to do the demo (because this article is so amazingly comprehensive and you are keen to read it to the very end), just cancel the demo prompt and it will not be shown again.

If you have not already created a game for the team, then the list of games will be empty. Get started by tapping the + button in the top right corner of the navigation bar to add a game for the team. A new game is created and is given a set of default values.

The default opposing team color is light blue - change it to the dominant strong color in the uniform of the opposition team. Make sure that the color is different from that used to represent your team.

The default opposing team name is "opposition". Change it to something memorable and perhaps even accurate (e.g. Arsenal).

The default game start time is the time that the game was created. You can change the date and the time of the game as required. This is useful if you are setting up a game or games well before they are actually played.

The actual game start time is set when you start capturing data. If you are capturing game data in real time, while standing on the sideline, this makes sense. If, however, you are capturing game data from video, hours or even days after the game was played, then the actual game time will need to be adjusted. When you have finished capturing the game data, you can use the actual start date and time fields to ensure that the time stamps for the game data reflect when the game was actually played.

The default field length and width are set to the length and width values for the team. Change these if the game is to be played on a field with different dimensions.

By default, all games are home games. Flip this switch if the game is an away game for your team.

Once the game is set up, you are ready to start capturing game data. Tap the "Start" button at the top of the game details screen to access the screen used to record all game data. This will bring up the "Play" screen

The field layout

If the game is football (soccer) instead of futsal, then the field shown in the "Play" screen is light green. If the game is futsal, then the field shown is a light blue. If the field has legal dimensions for football (soccer)/futsal, then the correct line markings will be shown on the field. These help considerably with deciding where an event occurred. If the field dimensions for the game are too imprecise, then these markings will not be accurate and you will find that game events are too stretched out or too compressed. This will not drastically affect the quality of game analytics but it does make things harder for the person recording the game data.

For a new game, your team defaults to being on the left of the screen. A goal scored in the goal on the left is a goal for your opposition. A goal scored in the goal on the right is a goal for your team. Team direction is shown in the app in two ways. First, the name of the team on the left is shown at the top of the left half of the pitch and the name of the team on the right is shown at the top of the right half of the pitch. Second, arrows, in the teams' colors, are shown at the bottom of the pitch, showing the direction that the two teams are running. If your team is on the left and so is trying to score in the goal on the right, then the team name is at the top of the left side of the pitch and the arrow at the bottom of the left side of the pitch is shown in your team's color.

To make data collection easy, it is crucial that the direction of the teams in the app corresponds to the direction of the teams being observed. To achieve this correspondence, either stand on the appropriate side of the pitch or swap the ends for the teams in the app. Thus, if the teams are not on the appropriate sides in the app when you start recording data for the game, begin by tapping the "Swap ends" button in the top right corner of the "Play" screen.

If you had to swap ends, then that will create a first event in the game. you will see the team names and the team direction arrows change sides. You will also see the swap-ends event appear across the bottom of the screen. It is the first event in the game's "Event History".

If you decide that the teams were actually the right way around to start with, just tap the "Swap ends" button again. The app is smart enought to realise that the two sequential swap ends events cancel out and so they are both deleted from your "Event History".

The football

The ball appears as a small colored disc on the playing field. Generally speaking it appears where the most recent event has taken place. In very specific situations, it moves to where the next event MUST take place. Kick-off at the beginning of a game is one of those situations (Corners are another one.).

The ball is shown with classic "football" hexagonal markings on it to make it very clear that it is the football and not some other intrusion on the pitch.

The ball also changes color during the game to reflect which team has possession. If a team has possession, then the ball is shown in their team color. For this reason, it is helpful if the chosen team color contrasts well with the field color.

If it is unclear which team has possession, for example at the kickoff to start the game, then the ball is gray. As soon as a team kicks off, then the ball is shown in their color because they are deemed to have possession until another player makes a first touch or the ball goes out of play. This is why the small gray ball is shown sitting on the marker at the center of the pitch. It is waiting for that first touch to indicate that the game has got underway.

End changes and finishing the game

Once the referee has blown the whistle to end the first half, tap the "Swap ends" button in the top right of the navigation bar to indicate that the game will be restarted with another kick-off and that the teams are now playing from different ends.

Once the referee has blown the whistle to end the second half, and so the game, hold down your finger anywhere on the pitch to bring up the menu of special game events. Depending on the size of your screen, you might need to scroll down to the bottom of this list of special events to find the "Finish game" event. Select that event to indicate that the game has finished.

Once the game has finished, the app will not let you add more game events. Return to the game details screen, ready to analyse the game information. The "Start" button will not longer be usable, because it does not make sense to start adding new data to a game that has already been finished. If you ended the game by accident, then tap on the "Data" button to go to the list of game events. The top event will be the last event in the game - the finish event. Delete it by swiping it to the left and pressing delete to confirm the deletion decision.

If, for whatever reason, a game has quarters (or thirds etc) instead of halves (and the teams are changing ends with each game stage, then simply tap the "Swap ends" button every time the teams swap ends.

Capturing first touches

Football Stats focuses on capturing first touches by a player on the ball. It is just too demanding to try to capture each kick of the ball. Football and futsal move fast enough that just capturing first touches is a sufficient challenge. Fortunately, first touches are very informative, especially for teams with a focus on their passing game.

A first touch on the ball is captured by a single finger swipe left or right on the screen. A swipe toward the right indicates a first touch by the team on the left. This gesture was chosen because it is similar to kicking the ball along toward the goal that the team on the left are trying to score in. That makes sense a lot of the time but what about when the team passes backwards. Shouldn't the swipe gesture be to the left in that situation? Definitely not! A swipe to the left is the gesture used to capture a first touch by the team on the right (who is trying to score in the goal on the left).

To ensure that you do not end up capturing incorrect turnovers, every time a team passes backwards, just remember to swipe in the "typical" direction of play for that team as shown by the arrow at the bottom of the pitch. Once you get this right, everything else is relatively simple.

The only other thing to learn about the swiping left and right is that the location of the event on the pitch is also recorded. That location is determined as the location from which the swipe began. Thus, to register a first touch by the team on the left, at their own penalty spot, you would do a swipe right, starting from the penalty spot. Over time, you will find that your event accuracy improves greatly. Event accuracy is useful because Football Stats uses the location of first touches to determine information about passing speeds, and passing distances and overall ability of a team to play forward. The less accurate your gestures are, the less useful this information will be.

Some first touches have their locations predefined. Kickoffs are a classic example. They are required to always be from the center of the pitch. For such first touches. the location of the first touch gesture is ignored, instead being replaced by the location required for the event. In generally, this only impacts upon kick-offs and corners.

If you have created a new game while reading this article, try starting the game with a swipe to the left. The ball just change to be the color of the team on the left. Imagine that they passed the ball backward. Show the first touch of the receiving player, also in the team on the left by doing a swipe right from where the ball was received. You should see the ball move from the center of the pitch to the location where the pass was received. In this way, the location of the ball gives a strong indication of what the app inferred from your swipe gestures. For more information, look at the names of the events and the colors of the event borders in the "Event history" shown across the bottom of the "Play" screen.

Missing shots at goal

If a player has a shot at goal (as a kick or header or any other type of touch), but the shot misses because it goes wide or over the top or is saved or deflected by another player, it helps if you add a shot event. This event does not need to be the first touch of a player. For example, if a player is passed the ball and dribbles it some distance before taking a shot, capture their first touch in the usual way with a swipe left or right. Then, at the location where they took the shot, add the shot event.

At times, shots come thick and fast and are in very active parts of the game. For this reason, Football Stats makes it very easy to add a shot event. Simply swipe upward toward the top of the screen, starting at the location on the pitch where the shot was taken.

Football Stats knows which team has possession and so it adds the shot, by the team that was currently in possession.

After a shot that misses, the ball is still in play. If the ball is then touched by another player, simply record their first touch when they do it. If the ball goes out of play record that instead.

Keeper saves

It is useful to be able to identify parts of the game where the keeper has caught and held onto the ball. Such events enable Football Stats to track and analyse all keeper restarts.

Like shots, keeper saves (where the ball is caught and held by the keeper rather than just being deflected back into play our out of play) often happen in the heat of play and need to be quick to record. To show that the keeper has caught the ball, simply swipe downward in the same half of the pitch as the half containing the goal being defended by that keeper. The save will be recorded at the location where that downward swipe occurred.

After a keeper save, simply record the location where the next touch by a different player occurs. If the keeper just puts the ball directly out of play, simply add that out-of-play event, over the sideline or the goal line, as described below.

Out of play over the sideline

The pitch on the "Play" screen is surrounded by a wide blue border. This border is used to show where the ball has gone out of play. The borders along the sides of the pitch show where the ball has gone out of play for a throw-in (or kick-in in futsal). To show that the ball has gone out of play, just tap in the blue zone at the location where the ball went out of play.

When the ball goes out of play, possession switches to the team that was not responsible for putting the ball out of play. Football Stats shows this by changing the color of the ball that has gone out of play to the color of the team that will put the ball back into play.

For balls going out over the sideline, often the location where the ball went out of play is not clear at the time it went out of play. When you tap in the side blue border to show the ball out of play over the sideline, the ball will move to the location indicated by the single tap gesture. If the throw-in or kick-in is taken from a somewhat different location that can be challenging for the person doing data capture. Football Stats helps out by simply moving the ball out to the new location where the ball was put back into play. It makes this adjustment by taking into account the location of the first touch implied by the swipe left or swipe right gesture that was used to show the throw-in (kick-in).

It can also be hard to tell which team put the ball out of play. These situations typically arise when there was a subtle touch that changed which team put the ball out of play. If you did not capture that touch before indicating that the ball is out of play, then the app will show that the wrong team is taking the throw-in (kick-in). Don't stress about it. Importantly, don't start trying to delete the data you have captured already. Just swipe in the appropriate direction to show which team put the ball back into play. The app will adjust the historical data to ensure that the team putting the ball back into play is not the team that put the ball out of play.

Out of play over the goal line

The outcome of a ball going over the goal line depends on which team put the ball out and whether a goal was scored as a result. If a goal is scored, then the goal event needs to be captured. This is explained below.

If the ball simply went out of play, then that also needs to be captured. You indicate that the ball has gone out of play by tapping in the blue border of the pitch at the end of the field that the ball went out of play. Tap in the part of the blue border area that corresponds to where along the goal line the ball left the field of play. This might be right behind the goal itself or it could be toward one of the corners of the field.

Scoring goals

If a goal is scored, simply place your finger on the pitch where the last touch occurred before the ball passed over the goal line. That will bring up the menu of special events and the goal event is at the top of the menu. If your screen is small you may need to scroll up the menu to find the goal event. Once you have selected the goal event, Football Stats asks you to confirm which team the goal is for. By using the available information about which team was in possession when the goal was scored and which team the goal was for, Football Stats determines whether the goal was an own goal, or not.

The last touch that produced the goal can be by either team depending on whether it was an own-goal. It also does not need to be a first touch by a player. For example, if a player received the ball out wide, their first touch would be captured by a swipe gesture out wide on the pitch. If they then dribbled into the goal box and beat the keeper before slotting the ball away to score, you would record the goal event where the final kick occurred. In this way, Football stats keeps track of information about where on the pitch the teams are able to produce goals.

Corners

If the ball has been put out over the goal line by the team that is defending that goal line, then the restart is a corner. Football Stats determines whether a corner is the appropriate restart based upon the team that was in possession just before the user did a single tap in the blue border used to record that the ball has gone out of play.

Importantly, Football Stats also infers which corner the restart is from. This is based upon where, along the goal line, the ball is deemed to have left the field of play. If it left the field of play closer to the left corner post, then the corner is deemed to be taken from the left corner of the pitch. Likewise, if the ball left the field of play closer to the right corner post, then the corner is deemed to be taken from the right corner of the pitch.

You will know which corner the ball is going to be played in from because Football Stats moves the ball to the relevant corner once it has determined that a corner is about to be taken.

The ball will be the color of the team that will take the corner to show that team as being in possession.

To restart play, the person taking the corner needs to have a first touch. That first touch is recorded in the usual way, with a swipe toward the left if they are the team on the right, and a swipe toward the right if they are the team on the left.

Normally, the location of the first touch, in this case the corner kick, is determined as the point on the pitch where the swipe gesture began. For corners this is difficult because the ball is placed right in the corner of the pitch and the swipe gesture would take the swiping finger off the pitch itself. For this reason, you can perform the swipe gesture from anywhere on the side of the pitch where the corner is being taken. Football Stats will realise that the swipe indicates the first touch that is the corner kick putting the ball back into play. It also knows that the location of that first touch is the corner that the ball was played back in from.

What happens if the ball is played back in from the other corner (not the one that was implied by the user's tap in the blue out-of-play border zone) because the referee thought the ball went out on the other side of the field? In that case, don't worry about deleting the previously recorded corner event. Simply swipe in the correct direction somewhere in the side of the field that the ball was played in from (the left of the pitch if the corner was played in from the left and and the right of the pitch if the corner was played in from the right). Football Stats will make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the corner is deemed to have been played in from the correct side and that this is consistent with the where the ball went out of play.

What happens if the referee rules that the restart is a goal kick instead of a corner? In that case, simply restart play with a swipe in the direction that the team taking the goal kick is playing in. For a team on the left, swipe right, and visa versa. Start the swipe at the point within the goal box that the goal kick was taken. Football Stats infers that the ball had to have been put out by the attacking team. It inserts an extra first touch for that team, just before the ball went out of play. It changes the corner event to a goal kick, and it adds the goal kick first touch event. There is no need to go back and delete the corner event.

Goal kicks

If the ball has been put out over the goal line by the team that is attacking that goal line, then the restart is a goal kick. Football Stats determines whether a goal kick is the appropriate restart based upon the team that was in possession just before the single tap in the blue border indicates that the ball has gone out of play.

You will know that a goal kick is expected because Football Stats moves the ball to the goal line at the point where the ball went out of play. Also the ball will be the color of the team that will take the goal kick to show that team as being in possession.

What happens if the referee rules that the restart is a corner instead of a goal kick? In that case, simply restart play with a swipe in the direction that the team taking the corner is playing in. For a team on the left, swipe right, and visa versa. Start the swipe at any point on the side of the field that the corner was taken from (left if the corner was from the left corner post and right otherwise). Football Stats infers that the ball had to have been put out by the defending team. It inserts an extra first touch for that team, just before the ball went out of play. It changes the goal kick event to a corner, and it adds the corner first touch event from the appropriate corner. There is no need to go back and delete the corner event.

Free kicks

There are a variety of free kicks that need to be captured. These are handled in similar ways, as described below. For all of them, you need to add a special event. Do this by placing a finger on the pitch where the freekick was awarded and hold it there until the menu of special events is shown. Choose the type of free kick that was awarded from that menu.

For each type of free kick, you need to then choose which team gave away the free kick. This is the team that infringed the Laws of the game in a way that caused the free kick. It is NOT the team taking the free kick.

You capture the first touch that puts the ball back into play (free kick itself) by swiping from the location where the free kick was taken in the direction of play for the team taking the free kick. If you have recorded the freekick for the wrong team, do not try to delete and re-add the free kick correctly. Simply swipe in the other direction to specify that the free kick was taken by the other team. Football Stats will infer that the free kick was wrongly awarded and so it will award the free kick to the other team.

Regardless of which way you swipe, the location where the free kick was awarded will be updated to correspond to the exact location where the ball was first touched to put it back into play (the place on the pitch where you started the swipe gesture).

Direct free kicks

Direct free kicks are free kicks where the first touch of the ball to put it back into play can result in a goal without needing the ball to first be touched by another player. You can tell direct free kicks because the referee does not hold one hand high in the air from when the kick is about to be taken until the second touch has occurred, after the ball has gone back into play.

If a goal is scored immediately after a direct free kick is taken, record it in the normal way. It will be allowed by Football Stats.

If the free kick first touch is a missing shot on goal, capture that in the usual way, by swiping upward. Football Stats knows which team is in possession so it knows who took the shot. It adds the first touch and then also adds a separate shot event from the same location.

If the free kick first touch is shot on goal that scores, capture that in the usual way, by simply adding a goal event, attributing it to the correct team. Football Stats knows which team is in possession so it knows who took the shot and scored. It adds the first touch and then also adds a separate goal event at the same location.

Offsides

An offside is a special type of indirect free kick. It has its own special kind of event so that offside infringements can be tracked separately.

If a team infringes the offside rule, they give away an offside. The game is restarted with an indirect free kick from the location where the infringement occurred.

Add the offside event by placing a finger on the pitch where the offside occurred and hold it there until the menu of special events is shown. Choose the offside event from that menu. Indicate which team was offside.

Because offsides result in indirect free kicks, the team taking the free kick cannot score a goal from the first touch that was the free kick itself. If you attempt to add a goal or shot without first recording a first touch by a second player, it will not be allowed by Football Stats.

Other indirect free kicks

All other types of indirect free kicks are represented simply as indirect free kicks. They are not broken down by reason that the free kick was given.

As with all other free kicks, add the indirect free kick event by placing a finger on the pitch where the infringement occurred and hold it there until the menu of special events is shown. Choose the indirect free kick event from that menu. Indicate which team infringed the Laws of the game and so gave away the free kick.

Because for all indirect free kicks, the team taking the free kick cannot score a goal from the first touch that was the free kick itself. If you attempt to add a goal or shot without first recording a first touch by a second player, it will not be allowed by Football Stats.

Penalties

A penalty is a direct free kick from the penalty spot. It is awarded in football for direct free kick infringements that occur inside the penalty box.

As with all other free kicks, add the penalty event by placing a finger on the pitch where the infringement occurred and hold it there until the menu of special events is shown. Choose the penalty event from that menu. Indicate which team infringed the Laws of the game and so gave away the penalty.

On a full-size football pitch, showing the full penalty area and the penalty spots, the first touch that puts the ball back into play (the penalty kick itself) will be deemed to have been taken from the penalty spot, regardless of where on the pitch the first touch gesture is started from.

On a small sized pitch or a futsal pitch, the location where a penalty is to be taken is less obvious. For now, the location implied by the gesture that puts the ball back into play (the penalty kick itself) is deemed to be the location where the penalty kick was taken.

If the first touch gesture is not for the expected team (the one that did not give away the penalty) then the app indicates that the first touch gesture was wrong and does not record the event. If you really did want that team to take the penalty kick, then delete the old penalty event, and re-add it in the correct penalty area.

Drop-ball restarts

At times the referee will stop play for a reason that does not involve a free kick to restart play. In such situations play is restarted with a drop-ball. In such situations, either team could take the first touch after the ball is dropped.

As with free kicks, add a drop ball event by placing a finger on the pitch where the ball will be dropped and hold it there until the menu of special events is shown. Choose the drop-ball event from that menu.

Often play can be stopped for some time after the referee has blown the whistle (e.g. if it was because of a serious injury). When play restarts it can be some way from where you thought the ball would be dropped. In such situations just swipe left or right to show the first touch of the team that makes first contact with the ball after it is dropped. The location of the drop ball event will be automatically adjusted to the same location as that first touch. There is no need to delete and re-add the drop ball event.

Substitutions

It is not necessary to record substitutions during a game. With running substitutions it can be particularly difficult. However, if you are keen to track substitutions, it is possible using Football Stats.

You can add a substitution event at any time during the game. Do so by placing a finger on the pitch anywhere and hold it there until the menu of special events is shown. Choose the substitution event from that menu. Then choose the team making the substitution.

For the opposition team, that is enough to add the substitution event. If you have not got any players in the list of team members for your team, it is also enough to add the substitution event if your own team does the substitution. However, if you do have players in the list of team members, Football Stats allows you to also indicate which player was substituted and which player replaced them. This information can be useful for a coach in assessing the impact of their substitution decisions.

Deleting recent events

Football Stats tries hard to reduce the need to manually delete events. The process of capturing game data should just flow. Where it can self correct, it does. However, sometimes referees just make it too hard to follow what is going on. Slow decisions, mysterious decisions and other wierd things that go on during a game can mean that a game has a set of events that need to be removed. Usually, these are the most recent events.

Football Stats makes it easy to delete recent events by showing the history of events in the game so far across the bottom of the "Play" screen. As each new event is added, it appears on the left of the screen. Earlier events are shown to its right. You can scroll back in time through the game by swiping left on that list of historical events. When you find the first event in the secquence of recent events that you want to delete, tap once on that event. You will be asked to confirm that you want to delete that event and all of the following events. Confirm if you are happy to delete the chosen recent events.

If you want to do more precise editing of the historical data, it can help to wait until the game has finished. Then, open up the full list of data from the Game details screen. On that screen you can swipe to delete individual events. You can also tap on any event to see the details of that event and to edit the specifics of that event. Most helpfully, you can change which team the event is attributed to and you can drag the event location around on the pitch to change where the event is deemed to have taken place.