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How to Use Soccer Statistics to ImproveBy Adam Wood
Writer, researcher and soccer coach. Devotee of The Beautiful Game. Lifelong learner and community-building advocate.


How to Use Soccer Statistics to Improve

Coach using Trace iD soccer statistics

Why use soccer statistics?

Statistics are everywhere. These metrics can be super valuable in helping us to make decisions, evaluate options, and judge performance. 

But, on the soccer field, statistics don’t tell the whole story. They can’t. The player with the most goals isn’t necessarily the best player, or even the most clinical goalscorer. The player who runs the most isn’t always the one contributing the most to their team.

That’s why players, parents and coaches should use Trace’s soccer statistics as a tool, not necessarily as a way to make decisions. Performance metrics don’t define a player or team’s performance, after all. Metrics simply provide some data points that can be used to paint a much larger picture and to describe the action on the field in a new way.

But new perspectives can make huge impacts. Trace’s soccer statistics often provide fascinating insights into player performance and team tendencies. And when used in combination with video analysis, that data accelerates development by helping players understand the way they play.

So let’s find out how to use those soccer statistics effectively.

What performance metrics does Trace provide?

Trace performance metrics

Trace generates performance data for each player equipped with a Tracer. That includes:

  • Distance Covered
  • Minutes Played
  • Top Speed Reached
    This is the top speed a played has sustained for >1 second.
  • Max Efforts
    This is the number of times a player performs at a high intensity or close to their physical limit. Trace looks across the entire game and identifies all physical exertion segments and identifies those with the best combination of speed, acceleration, direction change, and distance covered over a timespan of more than 1 second. Any effort at the top 20% of all segments is a ‘Max Effort.’
  • Stamina
    Stamina is a reflection of the rate at which a player’s activity is declining throughout the game.

What can players learn from Trace’s soccer statistics?

When looking at this set of statistics, it’s important to understand that they are all related. More minutes played usually means more distance covered, more opportunities to show max effort, and more likelihood to register a top speed.

Those metrics do not necessarily tell us the whole story without the context of the game video. The two need to be viewed in partnership. After all, the game dictates what each player does. Maybe a center-back spent the whole game spraying cross-field passes to the wingers and barely broke a sweat. Maybe a striker spent the whole game chasing shadows, working tirelessly but never really making an impact. 

Trace statistics alone won’t tell you that. But they do show patterns in individual performance and team tendencies, and players can learn from those patterns to create personal performance goals. For example, you can use Max Efforts and Stamina for personal insight into the question “Did I play as hard as I can?”

Coaches can also use these statistics to gauge player and team needs. If a coach sees the whole team is statistically struggling with stamina, that will be a focus for practice in the near future. If a coach sees an individual player’s Max Efforts are plummeting towards the end of games, maybe it’s time for a one-on-one conversation about building fitness on their own time, or adjusting minutes to prevent fatigue or injury.

How can coaches use Trace’s soccer statistics?

“Video technology is so important to youth soccer right now.
For coaches to use [Trace] as a tangible tool for accountability for their players is huge.”

— Director of Coaching for Lake Travis Elite, Nick Gordon

Trace collects and organizes performance data so that players and coaches can better understand the game during film review. It would be very difficult to look at statistics alone and immediately diagnose what the team needs to improve at. But in combination with game video, which provides context for the numbers, performance metrics can be a very powerful tool. 

Nick Gordon from Lake Travis Elite has been using Trace to raise the bar for his players and teams. But he recognizes that it’s more than just video making an impact on his players’ performance: “My favorite feature about Trace is the individual milestones that players can achieve, whether it’s sprints, max efforts, mileage, [or] minutes on the field.” That makes his job easier as a coach, but it also means his players are pushing themselves to be better and better every week.

Along with the performance metrics above, Trace breaks down game film into a series of tactical playlists, using statistics to isolate important moments during the game. These statistics include:

  • Goals
  • Progressions
    A player has advanced the ball past 2 or more defenders, either with a pass or dribble. This statistic can be used to bring directive purpose and measure the risk/reward of incisive passing. A low number of progressions might mean that upcoming training sessions focus on dribbling skills or passing skills.
  • Defensive Breakdowns
    When the opposing team advances the ball past 2 or more of my team’s defenders via pass or dribble. This shows a breakdown in defensive formations as opposed to 1v1 defensive mistakes.
  • Touch Chains
    Used to describe 2+ passes between 2+ players, this statistic can inform players about the need to focus training on achieving better first touches, gaining a better sense of vision, ball control, or other important factors.
  • The Game In Thirds
    Moments organized based on where possession began or was won (offensive third, middle third, defensive third).

Reviewing these playlists allows coaches to isolate areas where their team needs to improve, and design specific training sessions focused on those principles. It also equips coaches with an extra teaching tool, to illustrate not just what but why the team needs to improve there.

Trace also provides a Radar View and Heat Maps of each game. Radar View gives a birds-eye view of the team’s shape during the game, while Heat Maps show where on the field each player spent the most time. These revolutionary analytic tools help players develop spatial awareness, and help teams explore and refine their tactical shape. 

In isolation, statistics and mapping tools have limitations in guiding performance improvements. But when used as part of a larger commitment to video analysis, these soccer statistics and tactical features paint a complete picture of how a team plays — and where they can still improve.

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"Amazing technology that saves us time. We don't have to edit video and create clips ourself. No one has time for that. The "almost immediate" feedback is priceless. The players and the parents love to watch and analyze. Coach is able to give feedback more accurately."

Parent, CO Rush Elevation FC 08 G Premier