Optimum Strategy in Sport

Lead Research Organisation: University of Salford
Department Name: Unlisted


Optimum Strategy in SportSport provides a fascinating arena for modelling strategic decisions. There is a wealth of available or potentially available data; action sets are often well defined; and match states are often repeated. Furthermore, the notion of fairness is artificially imposed upon sporting contests through the rules or laws of the sport. This fairness maintains competitive balance which is so important to the long term survival of a sport/interest in one-sided competitions, both from the point of view of players and spectators, soon wanes. However, the notion of competitive balance or fairness means that coaches will continually seek means to obtain a competitive edge. Administrators of a sport will tend to act to redress imbalance through changes to rules and contest design. The quantitative modelling of strategy offers a means of obtaining a competitive edge. The track sprint in cycling further offers an ideal context in which to consider such modelling. This is because it is relatively straightforward to observe the race state and actions taken throughout the event. Obtaining a competitive edge in this Olympic sport has the potential to translate into additional medals for UK Sport and British Cycling in particular. The project will build a prototype decision model for the track sprint and the model will be used to explore optimum strategy for this event. In particular, the model will be used to investigate off-line , in a non-exhausting training environment, the effect of strategic alternatives on the outcome of the event. The model will allow exploration of strategy that differs from the received wisdom. The prototype model will be used to assess the potential for an extended model and training simulator to impact upon the competitiveness of UK track cycling and other related events in the 2012 Olympics. In the words of the report of the EPSRC/UK Sport meeting on Achieving Gold , where the idea for this project was first conceived, the project will take a number of steps towards characterising winning moves in sport in general, in order to to train an athlete to act optimally and thus separate intuition from technique .


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McHale I (2010) Assessing the fairness of the golf handicapping system in the UK in Journal of Sports Sciences

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Reed R (2016) Determining optimal cadence for an individual road cyclist from field data. in European journal of sport science