In a competition like the Pro Kabaddi League that doesn’t operate around the year, the pre-season is of utmost importance when it comes to player evaluation and improvement. This is especially the case when it comes to New Young Players (NYP), as there isn’t a ton of information available regarding them. These players have never featured at the professional level, so Coaches who have never seen them play, usually opt against giving them a chance at the start of the season. They rely on experienced senior players even if there is a possibility that some of these NYP’s may in fact, be better.
This approach of playing it safe means that a majority of these NYP’s fail to make a significant impact in their debut campaigns. A clear evaluation regarding them is attempted to be done as the season goes by, but there is a wealth of information that can be gained in the pre-season itself, which can prove to be very beneficial to the team. With that and player evaluation in general in mind, our analyst set out on a deep dive into the same to ensure that the team was positioned in the best possible way to succeed, once the season was underway.
All 11 pre-season matches of the team were recorded and tagged to collect information at a raid level. This generated 883 Data Points which were then consolidated into reports that were shared with the management and coaches. This ensured that player performance could be monitored continuously by the coaching staff and recording these matches meant that individual clips could be shared with players for self-evaluation as well.
This in-depth look at the pre-season proved to be quite beneficial, as it revealed that one of the younger raiders, a New Young Player, was in fact, outperforming some of the senior members on the team. The youngster would go on to establish himself in the starting 7 and featured 18 times in his debut campaign.
Another bit of vital information came on the other end, with 2 young defenders outperforming the senior members and the duo would go on to feature on a combined 47 occasions for the team.
With information now in hand at a raid level, it was also made possible to make a clear distinction regarding how well a player fared in specific situations. This ensured that the best of the best on the team could be assigned as per the raiding situation at hand, be it Super Tackle (2 & 3 defense), 4 & 5 defense, Bonus situation (6 & 7 defense), and also do or die situations. The same was applied for defenders in situations such as super tackles as well.
All this grinding behind the scenes in the pre-season meant that for the first time ever in the PKL, a team introduced three New Young Players into their starting 7, with the trio featuring a combined 65 times and piling up 201 points for the team. The Pre-season stats played an important role in influencing the coach’s judgement regarding the capability of these players to break into the starting 7, which in turn, helped the team succeed.
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Analysis by our Kabaddi Expert – Darshan Yandigeri
Pic Credit : Prokabaddi.com