Using social network analysis to measure performance

“Watching the World Cup? If You’re in the Talent Game, You Should Be!”

Josh Letourneau
July 2, 2010

Until recently, it’s been difficult to attribute talent and/or value to players without looking at how many goals they scored . . . and if you’ve read this far, you know that ‘talent’ and ‘value’ are relative concepts. So is there a better, more illuminating way? Sure there is, and it’s derived through Social Network Analysis , or SNA. No, no, Social Network Analysis (SNA) is not about how large each player’s Facebook friends list is (or their number of Twitter followers). Sorry for having to go there! SNA is a means of mapping out a network and what flows between it, in addition to relationships. In the case of a World Cup game, the network elements would be all of our team members (and for the purpose of this analysis, a ‘goal’ would be an element as well.) Take a look at the accompanying image for an idea of how we might utilize SNA to compare and contrast individual performance to team performance. The lines represents passes, or “ball flow”. Looks like there’s more involved than simply who is scoring the goals, right? You bet.…

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