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The match information scouting system is a tool that collects and analyses the playing teams technical features and issues the information to the teams, technical officials, medias and spectators. According to the research of the technical information, teams would become much stronger and play closer and more hectic matches; technical officials could efficiently organize a tournament; the medias could report the sport into more details; the spectators could better understand their supporting teams and players. The scouting system presented by this paper titled: Pictorial Handball Match Statistics. Abbreviated as: PHMS.

1. The history of scouting system

When I was a handball player in 1970s, I noticed that the scouting work of team sports in our country was proceeded manually with paper and pen, which took lots of time, hands and had very slow feedback, few information and unavoidable mistakes in calculating. During the 6th National games in 1987, it was the first time in China that computer was used in sports competition information processing. But technical information was still collected manually. In 1990's Beijing Asian Games, computer was widely used in fields of sports competition. It was then that the computer scouting system replaced manual work in many sports. The scouting operation at that time was mainly Code Inputting. That was to give each technical action a unique code (later on a bar code). A series codes would represent a record of information. The scouting process was then to key in series after series codes through keyboard (later on by a bar code scanner). The computer would afterward translate the codes into technical information. To operate this kind of system, the operators needed to memorize a great deal of codes that made the scouting operation a dull, tiring and low efficient work. The output of the system was mainly text with little information. The coaches still had to make their own note cause the system could not meet their demands.
Overseas, handball competition scouting system has improved a lot. Different handball scouting systems with specific features had been applied in Asian Championship in Bahrain in 1993, Asian Games in Hiroshima in Japan in 1994, and Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. System developed in Bahrain did a little innovation, which divided the playing court and the goal into areas coded differently. The action code would be input together with the code of different areas to indicate where the action took place. Then the area information would be explained by text in the printout result. System made in Japan provided an inputting interface, which was similar with Windows today. The American system provided the first time a regional statistics that was close to a graphics. The scouting system in Athens Olympics 2004 was made by SWATCH, which used 2 touch screens. Just touch the code on the screen by a pen is faster than by using a mouse when inputting information. But the method of code inputting remains the same.
The research of PHMS started in 1995 when we had already got the experience of code inputting and bar code inputting system. We hoped that we could develop a better system that would be able to meet the needs of both the coaches and the medias to the greatest extent.
After 5 years' hard work, PHMS was tested and modified again and again in the practical application of both Asian and World Championship held in China. Fortunately, our system was nominated by International Handball Federation (IHF) to take part in the examination and bid for the official system of IHF, together with two other systems from different countries in the head office of IHF in Switzerland, 2000. We won the bid finally. PHMS was chosen by IHF.
The council of IHF approved that the Pictorial Handball Match Statistics (PHMS) system to be the official scouting system for all IHF events.
Since then PHMS has been used in 5 World Championships in 47 cities of 5 countries and has successfully fulfilled its task: 1) Competition supporting; 2) Technical and media service.

2. Research Object

The objective of this research is to develop a system suitable for handball events from a common training match to a top level, large-scale world championship. It can provide real time, best understandable technical information to players, coaches, competition managers and technical officials, medias and Internet through reasonable facilities, lowest budget, fewest hands and easiest approach of operation, for the teams’ competition preparation, news report, Internet and TV live broadcast and enjoyment of handball fans, to ensure a successful organization of a handball event.
To meet the aims above, the research work must solve the difficulties as follows:
1) The easiest and most optimized approach of inputting enormous amount of technical data.
Operators of PHMS will be the people with handball knowledge (coaches, players, research personnel). They should not memorize any data code and can learn to use the system without much difficulty or training. A brief lecture and a few practices will make an operator.
2) To setup a common handball technique classification system.
A common and unique handball technique classification system is vital for a unification and accurate data collecting The objects of PHMS service are handball technical personnel (coaches, players, technical officials), medias and fans. The data PHMS collected and offered must meet their needs.
3) The best understandable way of presenting the data.
The way of presenting the data must be easy enough and understandable and not to make it a boring experience when reading the result.
4) The communication and issuance technique between PHMS database and Internet server.
There must be real time communication between PHMS database and Internet in order to provide quick data service.
5) The reasonable data management mode.
No matter what happened during a match, the system must ensure sustaining running and accurate data operation.

3. Approaches of Solution

1) Setting up a digital court to breaks the bottleneck of speed limit for inputting large quantity of data.
The inputting interface of PHMS is a digital court resembling an actual one.
The system would capture any action of a mouse on the digital court, offering a convenient, easy operating way of data inputting, just like playing on a court.
Two approaches are adopted in the system. With the technology of spot recognizer, automation and intelligence applied in data input, the system can use the preset logic algorithm and relevant parameters to create some technical data.
Like many other team sports, the offensive action and defensive action usually happen simultaneously in handball matches. When there's a successful offensive action, there might be a defensive error and vice versa. PHMS has made use of this rule. Operator will input actions from the offensive side only, and the system would create relevant information from the defensive side. Automation and intelligence in the process of recording greatly decreases the labor quantity and intensity of the operators.
PHMS has powerful error correction aiming at the possible operating mistakes. The flexible functions of error correction and audio notice are set in the system. In the recording of complex data, the later inputted data will replace the former accordant items till the concerned record completed. This function provides the operator with much convenience and makes rectification very easy.
2) Setting up a common handball technique classification system.
A common understanding and unique handball technique classification system is vital for a unification data collecting as the system would be operated by different people.
Based on the traditional theory of handball technique classification. We have had very close cooperation with the Commission of Coach and Methods of IHF, discussed the issue thoroughly for many times, and reached finally a reasonable, common classification system.
3) The best understandable way of presenting the data.
Based on the experience of previous research, we initiated presenting the data through drawing a playing court, which convert the manual drawing method well known by coaches and players since many years into computer operation. Since then, an easy understandable pictorial method was created along with other handball match data presentation generated by computer. With its vivid pictorial printouts, PHMS realized the saying a picture worth a thousand words. The picture clearly indicates the rich technical information included inside the dull data.
4) The communication and issuance technique between PHMS database and Internet server.
- Dynamic data issuance technique on website. Through the system's communication module, the Access Database of PHMS in the on-spot collecting machine is connected to the SQL Database of Internet server, so as to realize the instant communication. The automatic Internet data service comes true through the data issue engine of Crystal Report 9.0.
- Technique of timing information broadcast. PHMS provides timing data to varies facilities and systems, so as to keep the timing in phase.
- Instant data access. PHMS access the information instantly to ensure a quick output of reports later or remotely.
- Spare I/O access. PHMS has extra I/O port for more necessary data access and future demands.
- Print out reports in varies languages
5) The reasonable data management mode
PHMS adopts a three level data management mode: history level (for the convenience of comparison of history data and initial data input), tournament level and match level. This mode assure data operation within only the tournament level when inputting tournament data; and within only the match level when inputting match data, so as to ensure convenient operation and safety to keep PHMS operating consistently and accurate data operation no matter what happened during a match.

4. Conclusion of the research

The successful development of PHMS has achieved our main research objectives.
1) PHMS can either be operated by one person for a training match of the smallest scale, or meet the top scale demand of World Championship, which is the world's highest level usually held in different cities.
2) Due to the building up of the digital court and technology of automatically generating the data by logical arithmetic, PHMS realized the most convenient data scouting operation method that costs less and takes the least manpower. People with handball knowledge learn to use the system without much difficulty. One-day lecture and 3 matches practice will make a qualified operator. Just point and click, when the match is going on, operators can, without memorizing any data code, input large quantity of complicated data quickly. No matter how high the competition level is, PHMS needs only 2 operators at the most to accomplish the most intense, complicated data collecting work. In World Championship, the best operator can take 300 records in a match about 60 minutes. There are about 8 data in each record. That means, the operators can averagely accomplish 40 data in 1 minute.
3) Providing competition management and support service is another main task of PHMS. Before the match, PHMS printouts the IHF official match report, filled up with match parameter and players name, for the scorekeepers use; after the match, PHMS can immediately printout the filled out match report to be the consulting standard for technical officials to check the official match report filled by the scorekeeper, which ensure the process of the match and the accuracy of the match data. PHMS can also provide the evaluation information of player’s technique to help technical officials assess the player’s technical awards.
4) PHMS can provide the teams with detailed technical information of the matching teams and individual players in the middle of and after the match. Information of matches played in other venues can also be obtained.
5) Service to the medias. Before the match, PHMS provides the start list and information of the players; during the 10 minutes halftime break, provides statistics information of the first half time; 5 minutes after the match, provides statistics information of the whole match. If there were matches played in different venues at the same time, PHMS can provide statistics information of the whole tournament after the last match of the day, such as rankings of individual players techniques, accumulated technical information of each playing team, etc.
6) Providing the absent technical personnel, handball fans and medias with instant information service through Internet. People can get the same information through Internet as that provided in the playing hall.
7) PHMS can send statistic data to the scoreboard in the hall and TV live broadcast through the data transmit interface.