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I was first introduced to sports analytics as a junior in high school as a statistician for my school’s football team. The team was struggling against better-funded schools that could afford to have dedicated assistant coaches for stats and film analysis, giving them a significant advantage on the field. I was brought on as the team's statistician to level the playing field. Despite not being physically present on the field, this was an opportunity for me to impact the team and help them win more games.
During each week, I noticed that improving my skills in programming and analytics also improved the insights and reports I shared with the coaches, which noticeably improved their performance during games and their records. Fueled by my passion for sports and my commitment to the team, I taught myself how to code, eager to unlock the full potential of data-driven decision-making in football.
Through the stats, I started identifying patterns and trends that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, these insights shaped the strategies and decisions made by coaches on the field. My newfound expertise in sports analytics not only helped our team perform better against our rivals but also sparked a lifelong interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that I definitely didn’t have before.
With sports analytics becoming ever-more prominent in professional and collegiate sports, sports analytics clubs have been popping up at colleges and high schools nationwide. If you’re thinking about starting a sports analytics club at your high school (you should) this blog is a guide on how to start your own sports analytics club and set it on the path to success.
This blog isn’t to say there’s a one-size-fits-all solution for starting a sports analytics club, each school is different so always do whatever you think is best for your specific situation. This blog does have many of the elements used when starting sports analytics clubs for other schools.
If you’re starting any official club, sports analytics or not, you’ll need to sort out a few logistics. I know that there’s nothing more exciting than more paperwork but I promise that it’s going to be worth it the moment the ball kicks off to start the season and students are on the sideline tracking stats.
Although this depends on the school, a constitution, or bylaws (these words can be used interchangeably… I think) dictates if there are requirements for joining the club, leadership structure, and election process for leadership positions.
If you want us to send you over a basic sports analytics club constitution, send us an email to email@example.com with the subject line “Send me a Constitution!”, or at least something like that.
Although this is also probably a requirement for starting any club, having a faculty advisor can be massively beneficial to your club. While the faculty advisor doesn’t have to have a background in STEM or sports, it doesn’t hurt either.
Consistency is key when it comes to growing any club’s membership base. It might sound obvious but it’s something that is easily overlooked by many clubs. Settings weekly meetings at the same time and place help members incorporate the club into their schedule and routine, which will also allow them to advocate for other students to enter the club.
Once you get through those lovely logistics, creating club programming will get your members engaged in the club. The elements described below are if you are interested in supplementing what is already offered by Athlogic.
Form groups to work on analyzing the statistics and assign each group a “problem” to solve on their own. Each week, have groups present their work to the rest of the club and later to the coaching staff. Although it’s best practice to ask coaches what problems they would like help solving, some example problems are:
Although Athlogic will bring in guest speakers from the NFL, universities, and big companies, throughout the season to speak to members digitally, a guest. Clubs are welcome and encouraged to bring in guest speakers, whether in-person or digitally, to get first-hand exposure to industry professionals and inspire students to pursue careers in STEM.
A guest speaker could be a professor from a local college that talks about their recent work, someone that works for a sports team that talks about their day-to-day responsibilities, or even a player that shares their perspective on analytics. Ideally, there is a Q & A session at the end.
Many sports analytics professionals are happy to share their experience with students that aspire to join the field. You’d be surprised to find out how often people say yes to having them speak.
If you are interested in having a guest speaker participate in a meeting, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line like “Guest Speaker Help”, we’ll put you in touch with some people we know.
Put together a team of club members to compete in sports analytics hackathons like the Athlogic Future of Sports Hackathon (more to come on that soon!), or the NFL Big Data Bowl
Sports analytics club provides schools and students a unique opportunity to introduce a broad audience of students to computer science, statistics, and other things in STEM that would have otherwise been uninterested in it.
If you have any questions reach out to us at email@example.com