Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Soccer & Statistics

Measures of Central Tendency

Morgan Myers, Brittany VanCleave, Alexandra Parsons, Cacey Wells, Cacey Wells | Published: September 17th, 2020 by K20 Center


This lesson gives a sneak peak inside a professional athletic organization to see how its employees use statistics to make an impact on their team’s play. Students will analyze data related to measures of central tendency and use data to build a fantasy team or make a player trade. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to calculate measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) for a set of data, create arguments based on measure of central tendency calculations, and describe how math is used in the work of sports professionals. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included.

Essential Question(s)

What are measures of central tendency? How are they used by professionals in a sports organization?



Students watch a video where soccer statisticians talk about the use of statistics and data analysis in their work. They create Cognitive Comics to measure their expectations before and after the video.


Students explore measures of central tendency using data related to soccer players' cleat sizes.


Students engage in a class discussion about how they analyzed their data sets, learning academic vocabulary for mean, median, and mode.


Students apply measures of central tendency using real data and statistics from the OKC Energy soccer team. Students are then given the choice in how they use the data: either to create a fantasy soccer team of the best players or to formulate a player trade with another team.


Students pitch their arguments to the OKC Energy soccer team's general manager.


  • Lesson slides (attached)

  • Cognitive Comics handout (attached; one per student)

  • OKC Energy Player Statistics handout (attached; one per student)

  • Scatterplot for Pre-Algebra Extension handout (optional; attached; one per student)

  • "What Is Your Cleat Size?" handout (attached; one per student)

  • Pitch Rubric (attached; one per student)


Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Begin with slide 3 and introduce the essential questions to students: What are measures of central tendency? and How are they used by sports organization professionals? Consider also sharing the lesson objectives on slide 4.

Move to slide 5. Hand each student a copy of the attached Cognitive Comics handout. Using the Cognitive Comics instructional strategy, ask the students to draw a picture that illustrates the career of a member of a soccer organization in the "Before" column.

Now, invite students to watch a video about a lesser-known soccer career: the soccer statistician. Individuals in this career work with statistics and analyze data to help managers and coaches make decisions that impact the soccer team. Move to slide 6 to watch the video using the link on the slide. The video is also embedded below and linked in the Resources section of this lesson.

After viewing the video, move to slide 7. Ask students to draw another picture work on the right side of the Cognitive Comics handout. This time, the picture should illustrate the job description of the statisticians they saw in the video. Use this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that there are individuals besides athletes who are important to a sports organization’s success.


Go to slide 8. To help students begin exploring the idea that a soccer organization relies on more than just the soccer players themselves, pose the following scenario: “Equipment is a big part of the game, particularly soccer cleats. Shoes must fit correctly in order for players to perform at their best. It is your job as the equipment manager of a fantasy team to order a new player’s shoes. The new player is not responding to your emails, text messages, or phone calls, so you have to order his cleats without knowing his shoe size.”

Go to slide 9 and give each student a copy of the attached "What Is Your Cleat Size?" handout. Invite students to work with an Elbow Partner to explore the data on the handout and answer the guiding questions.


Once students have calculated their findings and answered the questions on the "What is Your Cleat Size?" handout, move to slide 10. Ask students to find another elbow partner and explain to their new partners the reasoning behind their answers.

After this discussion, bring students back together for a whole-class discussion. Move to slide 11 to display the last question from the handout: “Is there something else we can do to find a shoe size that would represent all the numbers?” Solicit a few answers from the class. Click the slide to introduce the mathematical term “mean,” which is another way to represent the data set. Click the slide again to reveal the definition of "mean." Tell the students that when we found the average shoe size, we were finding the mean of the data. Together, calculate the mean shoe size of the fantasy players.

Move to slide 12 and display question 2: “What shoe size do you think is right in the middle of the biggest and smallest?” From that question, as a whole group, create a definition of median. Then, create a process for finding the median in a data set. Once you have a definition and process in place, ask the students what they found to be the median shoe size of the fantasy team.

Go to slide 13 and display question 1: “What do you think is the most common shoe size among the fantasy players?” From the question, create a definition of mode. Then, create a process for finding the mode in a data set. Once you have a definition and process in place, ask the students what they found to be the mode shoe size of the fantasy team.


Move to slide 17. Hand each student a copy of the attached OKC Energy Player Statistics handout. Invite students to answer the questions in the Pre-Game section of the handout. Allow time for students to do so.

Ask students to look at the Game Time section. Have students each find a statistic of their choice from the chart on the first page of the handout, and then ask them to calculate the mean, median, and mode for that statistic. Allow a few minutes for students to perform the calculations.

Using the statistic that they selected from the Game Time section, have students use the Tweet Up strategy to create a tweet about their calculations in the Post-Game section that includes a hashtag about the main point of the lesson. Ask students to share their tweets with their elbow partners, and then ask for volunteers to share their tweets with the whole class.


Move to slide 18. The next activity involves two evaluation options for students: 1) creating their own fantasy team of players for the OKC Energy soccer team, or 2) making an argument centered on trading a player with another team based on player statistics. Both options are detailed below.

Give students the Pitch Rubric handout. Have students develop a pitch to present their formulated arguments to the team's general manager. To develop and present their pitch, students can use a format of their choice, such as PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Prezi. Or, to streamline the pitch process, consider having students prepare an Elevator Speech. The pitch should include all of the following:

  • The 11-player lineup chosen (for option 1), or the recommended player trade (for option 2).

  • The data used to make these choices.

  • The rationale behind these choices.

Allow time for students to present their pitches to the class, and then use the rubric to evaluate their work.