Data visualization and storytelling


8 ways to visualize football data

Bring Premier League data to life with interactive charts, league tables, fantasy football, and more

What do sports fans and data visualization practitioners have in common? They are both surrounded by data.

With the advent of player tracking devices, sports data has become abundant and data visualization has become essential to insightful sports coverage. From shot accuracy to xG stats (expected goals)and transfer fees, there is a wealth of data just waiting to be made into your next chart.

Ahead of the start of the Premier League’s new season, we’ve curated a short list of ways to visualize football data to inspire your own coverage. Whether you are a die-hard football fan, an amateur chart-maker, a sports journalist or anything in between, keep reading to learn more.

1. Show top scorers and assists figures at a glance

With the Table and Line, Bar, Pie templates you can bring football stats to life in just a few minutes. Show anything from top scorers and assists to transfer fees and wages.

Tip: If you’re on a Publisher or Enterprise plan, all your colors, fonts, logos and settings will be applied to your charts by default via a company theme.

Start scrolling to learn how to use each template to visualize top scorers and assists.

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2. Create customizable league tables

No sports coverage would be complete without a league table. A humble table can go a long way with extra styling, like colored rows to highlight teams in the relegation zone and Champions League places.

If you are on a premium Flourish or Newsrooms plan, you can even connect a Google Sheet to your table (or any other visualization) to update the data automatically as frequently as every five minutes.

Tip: Add images, including club logos, to table cells.

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3. Map out formations

The Flourish Sports template makes creating starting line up graphics easy. It’s as simple as writing the player names and picking a position.

Tip: Add images to each of the player’s circles for a more customized look.

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4. Visualize tactics with player trails

The Sports template has a new feature up its sleeve: trail lines. When enabled, trail lines will show the player’s movement when you drag the player in a Flourish story.

This is a great way to show changes in tactics with and without possession or how tactics change with new managers.

Tip: Set your story to autoplay for this looped effect.

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5. Show a club’s performance with racing bars

The Bar Chart Race is a Flourish classic that works well with league data, top scorers, top transfer spenders and other metrics. The animation will keep your audience on their toes as they wait to see who reaches the top. Make them even more engaging by adding flags, club logos, or player pictures to each bar.

Tip: Racing bar charts work well with anything over ten data points, so you don’t have to wait until the season is over to create your own.

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6. Visualize fixture charts for fantasy football

If you are one of the 11 million players of Fantasy Premier League, this chart is for you. Fixture difficulty charts are essential for getting player transfers right and you can build your own with a Flourish table. If you want to go above and beyond, add a trendline to show the data at a glance.

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Spotlight: Wrexham

So far, you’ve learned how to visualize generic football data. However, you might want to focus on a specific club, metric, or point in time. These last two charts will focus on how to tell stories with your charts by focusing on a specific angle. In this case, we’ve decided to zero in on the rise of Wrexham, the Welsh football club that was bought by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in 2021.

7. Explain stats with annotations

Good data visualizations tell stories with data. Annotations are a great way to add context to your charts. Here, we’ve added labels to the Y axis using axis highlights to label the different leagues in the football pyramid. Then, we added story annotations to mark some of Wrexham’s milestones.

Tip: Use the different axis highlights options to add context to your chart like we’ve done here to highlight the time since the team’s acquisition.

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8. Engage your audience with gamified charts

Test your readers’ football knowledge with the Draw The Line premium template. Let them guess the value and see how close they got to the real answer.

In the example below, you have to guess the football pyramid position of the Luton and Wrexham football clubs. For context, Luton went from being a small team into playing in the Premier League this season. Wrexham got promoted to play in the National League by the end of last season but can it reach the top of the pyramid?

Tip: Add a background image to complement your data, but make sure that it’s relevant. In the example below, the picture shows one of the entrances to Luton’s now Premier League stadium.

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Now it’s your turn

With the new season starting, this is the perfect chance to try and test these charts and to experiment on your own. Happy charting!