Google DeepMind’s new AI assistant helps elite soccer coaches get even better (Rhiannon Williams, March 19, 2024, MIT Technology Review)

TacticAI uses predictive and generative AI models to convert each corner kick scenario—such as a receiver successfully scoring a goal, or a rival defender intercepting the ball and returning it to their team—into a graph, and the data from each player into a node on the graph, before modeling the interactions between each node. The work was published in Nature Communications today.

Using this data, the model provides recommendations about where to position players during a corner to give them, for example, the best shot at scoring a goal, or the best combination of players to get up front. It can also try to predict the outcomes of a corner, including whether a shot will take place, or which player is most likely to touch the ball first.

The main benefit is that the AI assistant reduces the workload of the coaches, says Ondřej Hubáček, an analyst at the sports data firm Ematiq who specializes in predictive models, and who did not work on the project. “An AI system can go through the data quickly and point out errors a team is making—I think that’s the added value you can get from AI assistants,” he says.

To assess TacticAI’s suggestions, GoogleDeepMind presented them to five football experts: three data scientists, one video analyst, and one coaching assistant, all of whom work at Liverpool FC. Not only did these experts struggle to distinguish’s TacticAI’s suggestions from real game play scenarios, they also favored the system’s strategies over existing tactics 90% of the time.