It’s a great day in sports analytics! Today, I will discuss another technique of sport analytics which looks quite simple, but is very effective in enhancing the performance of a player or a team—and that is Deductive and Inductive Reasoning.
Coaches often use this method to reach a particular conclusion—inductive reasoning is used to reach a generalized conclusion from a specific instance while deductive reasoning is used to reach a specific conclusion from a generalized instance about a player or the team.
For deductive and inductive reasoning in sports analytics, concepts and variables of interest are first identified and hypothetical situations are then developed between the variables. One example is the study of O’Donoghue and Ingram in 2001 regarding tennis strategy at Grand Slam tournaments. This is research, they formed three concepts around gender, court surface and strategy. It was around these three concepts that hypothesis were developed using the links and associations between the concepts.
The various methods that are used in such situations include intuition, experience, authoritative sources, and reasoning. But here, we focus on reasoning. Reasoning can either be deductive or inductive and coaches and sport analysts employ this reasoning technique to determine the potential links between the concepts they have formed. Let’s look at how the above concepts work.
Looking at the concepts formed in the study of O’Donoghue and Ingram, it can be said that if there were differences between style of tennis played by males and females, the revelation of this knowledge can be used by a coach to enhance the style of a new player to suit the style of their gender.
It has been noticed that in grand slam tournaments, some players performed relatively better on certain court surfaces and performed less successfully on other surfaces. This validated the consideration of court surface as a good concept, which reasoning techniques can be applied in tennis analytics.
Another concept that was formed through this study was based on the strategy players adopted during their tennis matches. Typically, strategies are planned out before the match or even before the tournament. So for a coach to increase the performance of his or her player during a tournament, they might be able to leverage deductive or inductive reasoning to ascertain the best strategy that will help their player win the game.
Having come up with various concepts such as explained above, coaches, sport analysts and even commentators can rely on their reasoning technique to foretell the chances of one player winning against another.
In performance analysis, after various concepts have been formed, then different variables can be generated, which can be used around each of these concepts through deductive reasoning. So deductive reasoning is where a hypothesis is formed and tested through a systematic observation from the concepts and variables.
What is peculiar about deductive reasoning is that speculations are formed about general variables observed about a concept and these speculations become the hypothesis which are tested in order to arrive at a specific conclusion.
For example, the concept of gender in a tennis match mentioned above can generate variables such as: male tennis players are physically stronger than the female players. This is a generalized theory, which can result into a specific conclusion that it is most likely that a male tennis player will perform better on ground strokes than a female player due to strength. Or at least the stronger female players will perform better on ground strokes than weaker female players.
In inductive reasoning, however, observations derived from real life events are used to generate a general hypothesis, which is further tested. For instance, a tennis analyst who has observed particular matches in tournament finals over a period of time can use inductive reasoning to provide a case study about how a particular concept, such as gender or strategy can determine who will win another final.
In conclusion, deductive and inductive reasoning is a simple logical technique used in sport analytics to come up with either a specific or generalized conclusion about a player. This helps coaches better assess the players, according to their abilities.
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