Post-match analysis & technology – Match of the Day turns 50

By Shelley Broomfield and Andrew Callaway, Lecturers in Performance Analysis

22nd August marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Match of the Day, a show that brings top class football to the masses. Over the last 50 years the show has changed a lot, but one way in which it continues to evolve is through the way it analyses performance.

Research has shown that Physical Education students can recall around 42% of sporting actions in a football match, and experienced coaches can recall around 60% of a football match (Franks and Miller 1986; Laird and Waters 2008). This shows that even experienced coaches are not recalling 40% of what happens in a match, often focusing on key events such as penalties or fouls, and their recall can even be incorrect in cases where decisions go against their team. For regular Match of the Day fans this may not come as much of a surprise, as coaches of teams disagree on the malice in a tackle or the validity of a penalty.

These studies amongst many others into the need for enhancing coach recall demonstrate the value of objective observations to allow for critical, meaningful, feedback to the coach and ultimately the players. These objective observations have been used in team and racket sports for many decades but more recently have come to be known as Performance Analysis – and have migrated to other sports too.
Performance analysis is the investigation of sporting performance, with the aim being to develop an understanding of sports that can inform decision-making, enhance performance and inform the coaching process, through the means of objective data collection and feedback.
Within football, we have seen this used to great effect to improve the tactics employed by teams. An example where this can be clearly seen is through penalty kicks. In this instance a goal keeper can be shown a picture of a goal mouth with markings showing where the player most often kicks the ball. The goal keeper can use this information to help the decision making process as to which direction he is going to dive. As can be seen in Figure 1, the player kicks most often to their bottom right, so if in doubt, this is the direction the goal keeper will dive.

Goal keeping analysis

Figure 1.

Recent news reports have shown that Premier League managers are taking these methods seriously. New Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has even had cameras installed at the clubs training ground to analyse and catalogue performance during training sessions.

Performance analysis is frequently seen during Match of the Day post-match discussion. We watch Gary Lineker in conversation with several experts, often past professional footballers and or managers, deciding whether the game was good or bad. This is a format that Match of the Day has used over a number of years. Even as recently as the 90’s this discussion was supported by video evidence from the game. However, this was limited to slow-motion video replay from minimal video angle choices. This meant the discussions around topics such as, “was a player off side?”, were often met with a lack of evidence from the video available and therefore the answer often remained inconclusive.

Move on two decades and technology has developed beyond the imagination of Match of the Day commentators from the 90’s and earlier. Match statistics are now rolling across the screen with regularity allowing spectators to clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of the teams playing. With multiple camera angles, no area of the pitch is out of the viewers or commentators reach. These camera angles are used to great effect in the post-match discussions where questions such as, “was a player off side?”, are now easily answerable with on-video graphics such as lines, circles and highlights to evidence the argument, as can be seen in the clip below.

This use of technology on easily accessible television programmes such as Match of the Day makes the average spectator an arm-chair performance analyst. Using this information, the average Joe working a 9-5 desk job can also be a Premiership football team manager in their own fantasy football league. Assuming Match of the Day keeps up with the technological advances available they will be securing their place in the hearts and homes of football spectators for another 50 years.

Explainer: how to win a Tour de France sprint

By Bryce Dyer, Senior Lecturer in Product Design

The final dash to the line in a Tour de France sprint finish may appear to the bystander to be a mess of bodies trying to cram into the width of a road, but there is a high degree of strategy involved. It takes tactics, positioning and, ultimately, power.

The perfect sprint

In a perfect race, the best execution of a sprint win does not always come down to one rider. It is often the result of the work of teammates too. The back story to a winning sprint may have started hours before the finish line is in sight.

Jack Bauer in tears after the agonising stage 15 finish
Yoan Valat/EPA

During the stage, riders who have little chance in the finale will try their luck to beat the pack by being part of a “breakaway” – they jump clear of the peloton and then hope to outrun the others to the line. But if any team wants the stage to end in a mass sprint, it will check the speed of this breakaway and typically calculate how quickly the riders in it could be reeled in. Catch them too soon and new attacks may go clear (meaning more work for the interested teams to chase down), leave it too late and the breakaway wins. In stage 15, this approach got tested when New Zealand rider Jack Bauer spent all day in the breakaway. He finally was caught just 20 metres from the finish line by the sprinters. The sport can sometimes be very cruel.

Commentators typically suggest that on flat terrain, the ideal controllable gap is roughly one minute per 10 kilometres between a breakaway and the chasing pack. Towards the end of a stage, the interested teams supply riders to power into the wind and slowly close this gap down. The breakaway should then hopefully be caught with a handful of kilometres left to go.

At this point, the sprint-orientated teams deploy what is known as a leadout “train”. This train is made up of as many riders as possible from the same team. Each team member on the front then rides at a maximum effort before peeling off. The team’s designated sprinter is at the back of this train and is intentionally sheltered by the efforts of those riding in front to save his energy. It has been demonstrated that with four cyclists riding in a line, a rider positioned four men back only has to produce 64% of the power of the rider at the very front.

Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw execute the perfect lead out and sprint on the Champs Elysee in 2009
Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

If the leadout pace is high, the racing will be fast enough to discourage any late attacks from other riders. When viewing overhead TV footage, if the speed is high, the head of the main pack will have a pointed arrowhead-like shape to it. If the speed is at its highest though, you’ll see the peloton instead strung out into a very long, thin line. This is hard work for everyone but actually provides a safer and more controllable path for the riders through the final kilometres.

The penultimate rider in a sprint train is referred to as the leadout. This person puts in the last effort to position the sprinter sheltering behind. Ideally, the sprinter is then finally only exposed at the front with around 200 metres to go. When this happens, a winning sprinter like Mark Cavendish will cover this final portion in around 11 seconds.


If a sprinter doesn’t have the use of a leadout train – which does happen – he can “freelance”. This makes the opposition teams do the work before the sprinter leapfrogs around the group, hopefully ending up directly behind another sprinter with enough time to beat him to the finish line. In this case, a sprinter from one team effectively becomes the leadout for another.

On some occasions, no single team is able to control the final run to the line at all. From the air, the shape of the peleton in this case becomes broad at the front and spread across the full width of the road. When this happens, the chances of crashes are higher as rival leadout trains jostle for position and riders leap from wheel to wheel looking for shelter.

First week desperation

The first stage of this year’s Tour de France was unusual as it was likely going to result in a bunch sprint. The first rider past the post would not only get a stage win for their team but would also get to wear the yellow jersey as overall leader. With such a prestigious prize on the line, this meant more riders were involved and willing to take the risks, ramping up the chances for a crash.

Crashes normally occur when riders touch the wheels of other riders around them or lose control of their bicycles. In stage one this year, aggression played a part as Mark Cavendish and Australian Simon Gerrans battled to follow the wheel of Slovakian sprinter Peter Sagan. Sometimes riders realise they have nowhere to go and have to delay their sprint or wait for a gap to open up. Some opt for more punchy tactics though, using shoulders, elbows or heads to force gaps to open up between them and other riders. In stage one, Cavendish was boxed in, tried to force his way out and took both men down.

One of the most dramatic examples of a sprint crash is the first stage in the 1994 event when a policeman who was manning the finish straight barriers decided to lean out to take a photo of the finish.

Video The 1994 crash

But he underestimated both how fast and how close the riders were to him. Belgian Wilfried Nelissen (who had his head down) crashed into him and was thrown nearly 50 metres down the road with multiple broken bones. Another competitor, Frenchman Laurent Jalabert took the crash full-force in the face and his bicycle was destroyed in the impact.

Ultimately the perfect sprinter is a rider who expends as little energy as possible on the day, is deposited by others in the right place at the right time and has the ability to make fast judgement calls as the shape of the peloton changes around them. Marcel Kittel and his Giant Shimano team have shown everyone else how it’s done so far in 2014, but the prestige sprint stage on the Champs Élysées this weekend will give his rivals (Cavendish excepted) a final chance to put the theory into practice.

The Conversation

Bryce Dyer does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

BU students massage Dorset locals to beach volleyball success

Second year BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy students volunteered their massage and physiotherapy services at the annual Sandbanks Beach Volleyball Festival.

A team of four students, Milly Abduallah, Charlie Jones, Luke Lymbourides and Sam Coleman, gave sports massages and treatments to athletes competing in the national tournament. The event on 6 July, boasted 140 junior teams across 19 competitions.

Susanna Bentman, lecturer in physiotherapy, commented,

“It’s great for our students to be involved at the volleyball event, it really helps build their skill base by volunteering their services at sporting events throughout the South Coast and they really value and enjoy the experience.”

The national volleyball event is one of a number of opportunities for BU’s physiotherapy students to practice their skills in real life situations. They have also volunteered their services at other sporting events including Bournemouth Sevens Festival and Yeovil half marathon, where they also raised money for a special care baby unit.

Charlie Jones, one of the students involved, said,

“Opportunities like this allow us to recap our skills from our first year at uni, as on the day we did a lot of taping of ankles, shoulders, wrists and knees.

“As many of our placements are in hospitals or in a community setting, it is interesting to experience acute injuries; especially with under 16 (paediatrics) as the opportunity to have a paediatrics placement is rare. These opportunities will help when looking for jobs as we now all have experience working with paediatric patients.”

Geoff Allen, Wessex Volleyball chairman and one of the event organisers, said,

“I would like to thank our team of volunteers whose dedication in preparing everything ensured everybody had an enjoyable time.

“So many people came together to make it possible including free water donated by Asda and Fitness First, free sun cream donated by Boots and free physiotherapy and massage services provided by Bournemouth University.”

Poole Grammar School student, Harry Jones, 16, partnered 15-year-old Ryan Poole (Hertfordshire) to win the British under 18’s championship with a victory over Sam Allen and Nathan Fullerton from Bournemouth’s LeAF Academy.

From one man and his bike to the hi-tech peleton: the changing face of the Tour de France

By Bryce Dyer, Senior Lecturer in Product Design, Faculty of Science & Technology

The Tour de France is one of the most iconic and physically demanding sporting events in the world. Held annually since 1903, it has evolved from a simple test of endurance and speed to a festival of technology and innovation as teams fight to find the edge that will take them over mountains, high speed straights and cobbled roads ahead of their rivals.

The basic premise of the tour has generally remained the same since 1913 – the rider who covers the route in the least accumulated time across all of the stages wins. But the route is changed by the organisers every year, which means that unique demands are placed on the riders, the teams and their resources.

This year’s tour is divided into 21 stages covering a total of 3,656km. There are nine flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages, one 54km time trial and two rest days. As a result of all these different conditions, an awful lot of specialised equipment is needed. In early tours, the same bike was used for the whole race but these days, a different one is chosen based on the different demands of the stage, its gearing and wheels tailored to the terrain.

Cobble horror

Perhaps the most intriguing test for the teams this year will come on stage five when the riders face some perilous sections of cobbled roads. The tour riders, who generally weigh between 60kg and 80kg, will be subjected to massive levels of impact and vibrations as they pass over these surfaces.

To add to their misery, these cobbled roads have been in place for decades so they are not flat. Wear, breakage and subsidence makes them uneven, to put it mildly. To maximise speed and control, the best riders often ride in the middle or “crown” of these sections. With space at a premium though, experienced riders might also choose to ride in the dirt gutter between the cobbles and the grass banks at the sides of the road which has often been worn smooth.

This decision becomes critical in wet weather in particular, when riding on even the slightest camber can be extremely dangerous at these speeds. Punctures, loss of control and crashes are common and injuries can be severe.

Many of the riders looking to do well in a race like the tour will not typically ride on these kind of surfaces in other events because they are suited to heavier, stronger riders rather than those built for mountainous terrain. There are a small number of early season races in the spring that do feature these kind of surfaces such as the notorious Paris-Roubaix – known as the “Hell of the North” – which give a flavour of what riders can expect.


To ride these cobbled stages, bicycle frames may use a different geometry when compared to those used on tarmac or asphalt. These bikes may be longer in length to help smooth the ride. Riders will also often use extra padded bar tape and wider tyres to absorb the vibrations and sometimes extra brake levers are added to help them stop quickly in the peloton.

Higher ground

During the hilly and mountain stages, when the race passes through both the Alps and the Pyrenees, the teams will send their riders out on the lightest bikes possible. The lighter a bike is, the faster it will go uphill. A professional rider may be able to generate and sustain 6.4 watts of power per kilogram on a typical alpine climb whereas a recreational rider may only be able to achieve half of that ratio. As a result, the bike’s weight will be as close to the regulation minimum of 6.8kg as possible and lightweight wheels will be used to minimise the impact of rotating mass which could slow a bike’s acceleration when a rider wishes to attack others when on a climb.

Time trial tech

Stage 20 this year will showcase the real importance of cycling aerodynamics. This relatively flat individual time trial will see the riders trying to generate maximum power while minimising aerodynamic drag. Put simply, the more aerodynamic you are, the faster you will go (or the more energy you can save) for the same power.

Bradley Wiggins on a time trial.
Waterboyzoo, CC BY-NC

The bicycles used for this are highly specialised, with filled-in disc rear wheels and low drag frames. The riders themselves will assume a riding style that makes them look a lot like a downhill skier with their arms angled directly in front of their chest and torso to minimise their frontal area. They’ll use aerobars and wear a teardrop shaped helmet to reach speeds that can average 50km an hour.

Staying in touch on level ground

One of the more controversial new technologies in professional cycling has been the use of team radios to relay orders and information during the race. The organisers have even experimented with removing the riders’ earpieces in an effort to add more drama to the racing.

It is true that radio technology is often used to influence the result. Flat terrain typically results in a mass sprint but sometimes a small group of riders will break away at an early point in a stage and try to hold onto the lead until its end. However, these early escapes are rarely successful because the team cars and the riders following the breakaway can calculate the distance between the breakaway group and the “peloton” and then use radio transmitters to determine how fast they need to move to control or close the gap. It’s very hard for the breakaway group, typically containing just a few cyclists, to overcome the horsepower of 200 chasing riders armed with precise knowledge of the wherabouts of their quarry.

Do it yourself

Technology is a major part of the tour these days but that has not always been the case. In the early editions of the event over a hundred years ago, the riders were very much expected to compete alone and be self-sufficient.

Eugène Christophe

When the forks of Eugène Christophe’s bike snapped mid-race in 1913, he had to visit a local blacksmith and then re-weld them himself. It was later discovered that Christophe had enlisted the help of a local boy to pump the bellows for the forge and as a result, he was later penalised for receiving outside assistance.

The use of new developments in cycling technology was frowned upon too. The tour’s organisers didn’t even allow the use of mechanical gear changing systems until 1913. Before this, a rider would have to stop, unbolt their rear wheel and flip it over so they could switch to a single cog mounted on the other side of the hub. In the event of a puncture, they rode with spare tyres looped around their torsos.

Battling bodies and brains

Technology is now, of course, a fundamental part of riding the tour. And it stretches far beyond the bicycles themselves. Preparations for the race will have begun long before the start and the clothing riders wear, the bicycles they ride and the nutrition they take are finely honed products that can take months or even years to develop.

When they’re not actually riding, recovery technology is used to prepare them for the next stage. Riders will have massages, wear compression clothing and take ice baths to help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. The key principle here is that winners are not always the strongest but those who possibly tire the least over the three weeks.

Each team of riders is supported by doctors, mechanics, physiologists, coaches and operational management. There are multiple team cars and buses which house their equipment and spares. They become, in effect, a mobile business and garage for the duration of the race.

Professional bike racing has been referred to as “chess on wheels” as the smartest rider and team, not the strongest, often win. We’ll find out if this is the case this year from July 5.

The Conversation

Bryce Dyer does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

A hymn confirms that the FA Cup final is a matter of life and death

By Barry Richards, Professor of Public Communication, The Media School

Every year before the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, the pre-match programme includes the hymn Abide with Me. This is one of the oldest rituals in the British football calendar, having been introduced at the 1927 final.

Led in recent decades by a soloist on the Wembley pitch, the performance of this 19th-century hymn is more than just empty tradition – it is a moment of great pathos. The partisan passions of the day are suspended and the stadium is more or less united in a celebration of the occasion.

The massive global television audience is also part of this emotional drama, and lots of viewers feel a lump in the throat as the cameras pan the crowd. Many of those captured briefly on screen over the years are seen mumbling half-known lines; some look slightly baffled, while others are barely restraining themselves until the moment when they can shout and wave their arms again. But the music prevails, and people either acquiesce or immerse themselves in this spectacle of shared sentiment.

A Victorian relic

It is an impressive ritual, a revered part of the Cup Final, and an expected ingredient of this annual televised narrative of British football. The cameras focus on the crowd, zoning in on their palpable emotion, and briefly the audience, rather than either team, or the match itself, is at the centre of attention.

It is odd, once you think about it, that 21st-century crowds and audiences in all their post-modern diversity find this moment so compelling – that a Christian hymn written by a Victorian clergyman has acquired a key place in the build up to a national sporting event. It is especially interesting that the game is so clearly an affirmation of the life of the body, whilst the hymn in question is a sustained meditation on death.

Tearing up yet?

The Anglican vicar Henry Lyte wrote the poem Abide with Me in 1847 when seriously ill with tuberculosis. Within months of completing it he had died. The tune to which his words have been most famously set was supplied by the composer William Monk, whose three-year old daughter had recently died.

Abide with Me became a popular choice at funerals especially amongst the working class. So by the time it was introduced at the Cup Final – as part of a short-lived, media-led enthusiasm for “community singing” – it would have been well-established in popular consciousness as music of death and mourning.

From grave to pitch

The literal message of the verses of the hymn is a mournful mastery of death. In Henry Lyte’s hymnal poetry it is God who gives succour to the dying. But for today’s secular crowds and audiences, God is not available. So where is the Thee of the hymn?

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

For the singers of today, looking down on a football pitch instead of a grave or an altar, it is the experience of being part of a unified social group, rather than the presence of God, which draws “death’s sting” for the not-yet-dying. The audience in the stadium take part in an affirmation of human community, and the television audience joins in.

The identities of the opposing teams, and all of life’s other rivalries and tensions, are temporarily subordinated to an assertion of a shared humanity. There are many ways of making such assertions – and all sporting occasions are potential expressions of the coherence and success of human society. But there is something especially intense and meaningful about invoking an experience of inclusive community in this explicit confrontation with death and mourning, however transient or archaic it may seem.

So although this short ritual has its detractors, let’s hope that – unlike the individual human life – its day is not “swift to its close”, and that it outlives all those who will enjoy it this Saturday.

The Conversation

Barry Richards does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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Bryce Dyer to be honoured at British Science Festival


Bryce Dyer, Senior Lecturer in Product Design at Bournemouth Univesity, has been selected for the prestigious honour of delivering an Award Lecture, at the 2013 British Science Festival, which will be taking place in Newcastle from 7-12 September.

Bryce Dyer will deliver the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture, and joins the ranks of previous award lecturers such as Professor Brian Cox, Professor Richard Wiseman, and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Each year, five academics from across the UK are selected to take part in the Award Lecture series, with each lecture encompassing a different area of science.

The Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award focuses on the fields of engineering, technology and industry. Mr Dyer will present “Prosthesis, disability and the role of technology in elite sport”.

The lecture will reveal the colourful history of limb prostheses, and progress into how they have been engineered to not only complete, but also to compete in physical challenges today.

Mr Dyer will examine the controversy surrounding the use of such technology in competitive sport, following the debates off the back the London 2012 Games, and look at what could be done to address such problems in the future.

Finally, the lecture will examine how such technology attempts to restore the function of amputated limbs to people like elite athletes or the armed forces and ultimately how such innovations may change the face of both disability and sport as we currently recognise it in the very near future.

The British Science Festival is one of Europe’s largest celebrations of science, engineering and technology, with over 250 events, activities, exhibitions and trips taking place over a week in September, in a different location every year.

The programme of events offers something for everyone, with activities for families and schools groups, teens, adults, and stimulating debate for anyone interested in the latest research.

Mr Dyer said, “I am delighted to have this opportunity, and am looking forward to presenting this research. The British Science Festival is a unique opportunity to share scientific findings with the public, and it is an honour to be selected to give the Award Lecture.”

SportBU manager swapping lbs for £s for Comic Relief


A manager at Bournemouth University’s on-campus gym will raise money for Comic Relief by completing a gruelling number of fitness classes.

Charlton Clarke, who is Duty Manager (Intramural and External Facilities) at SportBU, will complete 34 fitness classes over seven days – a total of 27.75 hours of exercise.

Charlton, who also teaches fitness classes at the Talbot Campus gym, hopes to raise at least £500 for his Lbs for £s Challenge through an online donation site and collection buckets.

He will be taking part in up to seven classes a day – including spinning, pilates and Legs, Bums and Tums – from Monday 4th March until Sunday 10th March.

Charlton, 25, said: “I have always wanted to do something for Red Nose Day – I see all the celebrities doing the massive challenges and get a bit jealous.

“I am here on a daily basis, so I thought it would be interesting just to see how many classes I could do in a week. Then I thought I may as well combine it with raising money.”

The challenge will see Charlton complete some of the half hour and hour long classes consecutively – doing them throughout the day while working normal hours in between.

Charlton, of Westbourne, will also be taking part in classes that he normally teaches and will attempt his first ever Zumba class.

He said: “The Zumba class will be interesting. I like doing classes which are pretty stationary, as anything that involves lots of movement or dancing, I’m usually rubbish.

“I’m looking forward to taking part in the Boxercise class – I have taught that for about three years and I have always been on the other side, shouting at people.

“My colleague is going to run the class for me and she says she’s quite looking forward to putting me through my paces.”

He added: “The people who come to my classes regularly, are going to see me and want me to push myself.

“Thursday is quite a tough day – if I’m not tried and struggling by that point anyway, I will be by the end of it.

“I’m just throwing myself into it and hoping for the best.”

You can sponsor Charlton here