A sports statistician performs analysis of sports teams, leagues, and individual athletes. This information can be useful for activities like improving team performance, accurately predicting outcomes, and working with athletes to address their weak spots on the field. Experts in this discipline may have advanced degrees in mathematics, physics, or related fields. They use a variety of formulas to collect and interpret data for their employers, who may include team managers, sports organizations, and firms involved in gambling.
Some teams use a sports statistician to provide support. When they need to add players to the roster, the consultant can evaluate available candidates and determine who would be the best choice, based on the numbers. This may not necessarily be the flashiest or most famous player, or even the best performer, as the sports statistician may consider who would integrate best with the team. As the team practices and competes, the statistician can maintain and update data that may be useful in coaching.
As a whole, the team can benefit from statistical analysis to identify specific issues in need of attention. Individual athletes can work with a sports statistician and coach who can help them improve. For example, the consultant might identify an area where the athlete is consistently a poor performer on the field. During games, consultations may help coaches decide which athletes to put in and when, based on current performance and the data kept on the opposing team.
Analysis of data can also be useful for sports leagues and sponsoring organizations. Sports statisticians can establish starting assignments for tournaments and may develop recommendations for organizing competitions, based on past performance. Leagues may publish statistics for the benefit of members and fans, using a statistician to prepare this documentation and ensure accuracy. In horse racing, the art of handicapping, deciding how much weight a horse should carry to even the field, is heavily influenced by sports statisticians.
Betting organizations also rely on sports statisticians, who determine the odds for various outcomes in games. This allows bookies to determine which odds to offer customers, and how to adjust them over time. Individual bettors may utilize statistical analysis to make informed decisions about how and when to bet, hoping to find a fluke in the odds that could make it possible to profit on a well-placed bet.
Another use for sports statisticians can be in cheating investigations. In environments like casinos where this is an ongoing concern, periodic evaluation for probability may be part of the measures used to identify problems. The sports statistician may find that a series of outcomes was highly unlikely, and could be indicative of cheating.