As technological innovation has expanded in the world of soccer it has trickled down from the professional level through all stages of competition. Now high school stadiums are equipped with AI video production technology, and new methods of data-backed player development are being pioneered at a more rapid pace than ever before. AI-powered video production companies like Pixellot and Hudl, have been a part of the tech boom in sports, leading the charge in making video production more cost effective, allowing it to permeate the sports world at a faster click.
Such technologies have had Richter-scale levels of disruption in the player development and scouting process, creating lasting changes to the traditional path to fame and fortune in the world of soccer. Coaches who previously relied on wide networks of in-person scouting and deep developmental leagues have been granted access to a wealth of video scouting, drastically widening the pipeline from youth leagues all the way to the pros.
The new accessibility coaches have to large banks of video footage has also triggered another reaction in the world of scouting: the importance of data and statistics in talent acquisition. Teams who once filled their rosters based on pizazz and glamour now dig deep amongst piles of data to win on the margin. This has produced a desire among soccer teams to hire scouts that may be foreign to the soccer world, but are experts at data analytics.
However, as data’s role in the sports world has grown, the data itself has become more complicated. This of course, is a necessity, considering that, “the only worthwhile conclusions on soccer players are reached when data is applied to a wider context,” writes James Nalton in Forbes. Nalton justly explains that individual statistics are meaningless to a soccer club unless applied to the context of the rest of the players on the field.
While advances in data technology have done wonders in facilitating the construction of stronger developmental networks, and in granting exposure to more players, there are still stark limitations with this technology. Most notably is that, even at its most cost effective state, the AI video technology that gathers this data is still out of reach for many players and teams. This gap has allowed much talent to fall through the cracks as a result of lack of exposure and resources.
Athletes who are unable to perform at an early edge are left out of professionally operated developmental leagues, and those who do not have access to advanced technology are excluded further. One of the most widely respected clubs in the soccer world, Ajax, welcomes, “about 200 players… at any given time, from ages 7 to 19. Every year, some in each age group are told they cannot return the following year… and new prospects are enrolled in their place,” writes Michael Sokolove in the New York Times. With so much talent being glossed over before being given the chance to blossom, the question looms: how do these eager, young athletes remain within sight of scouts and teams? How do they press on to achieve their dreams of playing at the professional level?
Playform has taken strides to address this gap, pioneering a remarkable solution to the limitations of traditional scouting that takes advantage of the gamification of sports tech and the desire amongst all young athletes to access the best training technology. Playform’s flagship app addresses these looming questions by putting a player’s ability to gain exposure into their own hands. By removing the necessity for enrollment into expensive developmental leagues, and creating the most cost effective way for players to access elite, data-driven training, Playform has introduced a more equitable scouting pipeline. Players can achieve success through hard work, climbing the global ranks across all of Playform’s measurable skills, and earning recognition in the app’s public database.
This solution does not come at the cost of the accuracy and validity of the data. Playform’s greatest strength is its ability to use data gathered by its basic skills assessment to create a constantly evolving training regimen based on a player’s role on the team and the field. This facilitates the most useful scouting tool of all: understanding a player’s data within the context of the whole soccer environment.
Furthermore, this data is conveyed in a comprehensible style for all users. As Nalton explains, “The style and format of this presentation is often the key to understanding the data.” Playform has jumped first to gamify player development data, making it easier to understand and more engaging to scouts and players alike, and they’ve done it all to achieve their mission of training the next generation of athletes with the next generation of sports technology.