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Complex Systems & Sports Analytics

by Javier M. Buldú1  and Javier Galeano2

1 Complex System Group. Universidad Rey Juan Carlos.

c/Tulipan s/n 28933 Móstoles - Madrid (SPAIN)

Complex System Group, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. 

E.T. S. Ingenieros Agrónomos, Campus, Av. Puerta de Hierro, 2 - Madrid (SPAIN)



The course is designed to overview the interplay between Network Science and the analysis of collective sports, with an in-depth focus on soccer. This course is structured into two comprehensive modules, each tailored to equip students with a robust understanding of network science's principles and their practical application in sports analytics. The initial module delves into the basics of network science, providing a foundational knowledge of the structural and dynamical properties of networks. This part is crucial for grasping the complex interactions within systems, offering insights into how entities within a network, such as players in a team, interact and influence each other's performance.

Transitioning from theory to application, the second module is dedicated to the practical application of network science in the realm of sports, with a particular emphasis on soccer. Here, students will explore a series of illustrative examples that demonstrate how networks can unveil hidden patterns, optimize team strategies, and enhance performance analysis. This segment of the course underscores the significance of network science in dissecting the complex dynamics of soccer, revealing how the relationships and interactions among players can be mapped and analyzed to gain competitive advantages.

Culminating in a hands-on experience, the course includes a two-hour module focused on the implementation of software code to construct and analyze soccer passing networks. This practical exercise enables students to apply their learned theories and techniques to real-world data, fostering a deep understanding of how network science can be leveraged to transform traditional sports analytics. Through this comprehensive approach, the course aims to empower students with the skills and knowledge to navigate and excel in the increasingly complex and data-driven world of sports analytics, particularly in understanding and enhancing collective sports like soccer.