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PhD ceremony Mr. B.G. Talsma: Performance analysis in elite sports. Statistical comparison, development, ranking, and selection in speed skating and soccer

When:Th 28-11-2013 at 12:45
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Mr. B.G. Talsma

Dissertation: Performance analysis in elite sports. Statistical comparison, development, ranking, and selection in speed skating and soccer

Promotor(s): prof. G. Sierksma, prof. R.H. Teunter

Faculty: Economics

The central theme of the dissertation of Bertus Talsma concerns the development of techniques for analyzing and comparing performances of elite sportsmen. When performances are delivered under varying circumstances, or are influenced by other factors than the athletes' abilities, a fair comparison, for instance when athletes need to be selected for the Olympic Games, is not at all straightforward. On the other hand, technological innovations, improved training methods, population changes, and new tournaments are external factors that have continually influenced performances, making comparisons over the years difficult.

Talsma’s thesis focuses on speed skating and football/soccer. For both sports, all-time ranking lists are presented that are the result of carefully describing the ‘external’ factors that have influenced the actual performances. Statistical techniques are applied in such a way that corrections are made for these factors. Similar techniques are applied for comparing speed skaters’ performances in the selection process for the Winter Olympics.

Even during one tournament, the circumstances are not always the same for all athletes. In case of the 1000 meter speed skating during, among others, the Olympics, there even exists unfairness between starting in the inner and starting in the outer lane. A correction on this aspect is only possible when the 1000 meter is skated twice by all skaters, both with a start in the inner and a start in the outer lane.

Read also the following press release: Econometrists: Olympic 1000m must be skated twice

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