Visualization in Sports
This article is not about “improving your ability in sports using visualization“. This post is focused on the ubiquity of computer graphics and visualization in sports. As a television viewer, player, coach or just a curious individual, you may have seen some of these visualizations for analyzing a game. It seems more common for coaches to use visual analytic tools to analyze the opposing teams in almost all sports now.
Visualizing American football (NFL)
- Professor Chris Healey from NCSU has an interesting project on visualizing NFL games. The project details can be found at http://www.csc.ncsu.edu/faculty/healey/NFL_viz/.Here is a screenshot of a small section of the visualization of the entire SuperBowl 2009 game between Arizona and Pittsburgh.
- The NYTimes vis lab has an interesting visualization titled – Rushing points per game – http://vizlab.nytimes.com/visualizations/rushing-points-per-game-nfl-teams-2
- On Many Eyes you can see that common users have generated visualizations of various aspects of football
- Visualizing Fantasy Football teams – This paper by Pearlman et al. discussed ways to visualize diversity in a fantasy team and is an interesting read. Jason Pearlman, Penny Rheingans, Marie des Jardins, “Visualizing Diversity and Depth over a Set of Objects,” IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 35-45, Sep./Oct. 2007, doi:10.1109/MCG.2007.139
- Ben Fry‘s post linking the intelligence of a football player with their position on the field. His post talks about how teams have started using Wonderlic test while scouting players and that their performance on that test becomes one of the factors that determines the position they play on the field. Its quite an interesting read supported ofcourse by visual representations. More at http://benfry.com/writing/archives/147
Visualizing Baseball (MLB)
- Ben Fry strikes(?) again!! His entertaining interactive ‘Salary vs Performance‘ sketch implemented in Processing provides interesting insights into whether the most expensive team is actually performing the best (or NOT as in the case of the New York Yankees :)) Visit http://benfry.com/salaryper/ to play with the sketch and find out how your favorite team is doing.
- A very interesting blogpost on ‘Visualizing Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball‘. A statisticians view on analyzing and visualizing baseball pitches and baseball data in general. Has some good links for baseball related data.
- Josh Kalk’s amazing tool that lets you create your own baseball graph by using a simple interface – http://baseball.bornbybits.com/php/combined_tool.php. For example, playing around with it I found that Alex Rodriguez hits most home runs on a fastball as compared to a slider or a splitter.
- Can parallel coordinates be far behind? Parallel coordinates for visualizing baseball statistics – http://www.matthewtavares.com/baseball_report/
- Wow! A Baseball visualization tool – Visual io is a visualization company that produces tools for allowing visual analysis of corporate data. They used to have a baseball visualization tool that has been taken down. It was really cool and more details can be found at http://simplecomplexity.net/2008/11/26/visual-ios-baseball-visualization-tool/
- An interesting article by Dan Fox called “Schrodinger’s Bat” on visualizing baseball pitches. Clearly the title is a play of words on Schrodingers Cat :) Here’s a visualization of DiceK‘s three pitch types.
- Very interesting post on what combinations of players works best and what styles the teams play – Visualizing the WNBA’s top player combinations
- Links to an excellent article about NBA playing style spectrum.The spectrum of most of the famous basketball players can be found at http://gmapuploader.com/iframe/OcGKRzNj4B. Zoom in to explore it closely.
- David Ng’s final project on Professional Basketball Player Performance Trends from Hanspeter Pfister’s class at Harvard (http://www.seas.harvard.edu/courses/cs171/)
- ESPN’s Game Flow – Line graph to show the progression of the game
- A very amusing visualization correlating Return of Investment on their players. The idea is similar to Ben Fry’s ‘salary vs performance’ sketch, but the visualization here is completely different.
- An awesome visualization of all the shots from the NBA 2007-08 season. Check out their processing sketch at http://jasonrbailey.com/jason/courtvis/. Clearly, players prefer to hit three pointers from the corners than anywhere else.
- More visualization that look like treemaps from – Road to the NBA finals
- Another visualization showing something they call the Player Genome . They visualize each player’s stats as a color coded line. The entire visualization does look sort of like a genome :)
- -Infographics is widely used in telecasts – Bowling overview, batting overview (wagon wheel) to show which parts of a ground is a particular player hitting to in that innning. A snapshot of a wagon wheel (as it is called) is shown here (Image credits: cricinfo)
- The value of graphical presentation of data: An example from cricket – http://www.mansw.nsw.edu.au/members/reflections/vol23no4skinner.htm
Golf swing visualization
- Urtasun et al. published a paper for 3D tracing of the golf swing. Here is the citation and the link to the paper: Raquel Urtasun , David J. Fleet , Pascal Fua, Monocular 3-D Tracking of the Golf Swing , Proceedings of the 2005 IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR’05) – Volume 2, p.932-938, June 20-26, 2005. Here is a snapshot from their paper.
- Naturally, there would be a company selling a product for such sort of a thing. Flightscope, the company that tracks a tennis ball for debatable calls during a match, uses 3D Doppler tracking for tracking your golf swing -
I am sure you have seen visualization and infographics being widely used in your favorite sports. Please feel free to add a link or even mention it in the comments section.