- Keywords: fully convolutional neural networks, convolutional neural networks, sports analytics, interpretable machine learning, deep learning
- TL;DR: A deep neural network architecture that is able to produce full pass probability surfaces from low level spatio-temporal soccer data.
- Abstract: We propose a fully convolutional network architecture that is able to estimate a full surface of pass probabilities from single-location labels derived from high frequency spatio-temporal data of professional soccer matches. The network is able to perform remarkably well from low-level inputs by learning a feature hierarchy that produces predictions at different sampling levels that are merged together to preserve both coarse and fine detail. Our approach presents an extreme case of weakly supervised learning where there is just a single pixel correspondence between ground-truth outcomes and the predicted probability map. By providing not just an accurate evaluation of observed events but also a visual interpretation of the results of other potential actions, our approach opens the door for spatio-temporal decision-making analysis, an as-yet little-explored area in sports. Our proposed deep learning architecture can be easily adapted to solve many other related problems in sports analytics; we demonstrate this by extending the network to learn to estimate pass-selection likelihood.