Analyzing Live; Video & Stats

Analyzing Live; Video & Stats

I was reading the Sunday papers last week and I came across the following article: “Why Davy ignored interval stat attack on Tipp is a fact that doesn’t figure”

It refers to a Hurling manager who seemed to ignore the advice of his analysis team. In a strange move the analyst has gone to the papers with the story! For those who don’t know, Hurling like Gaelic Football is an ‘amateur’ sport. All of the players and many of the back-room teams devote huge amounts of time and energy for little more than the honor of representing their County of birth.

Here is a snippet of what the analyst said in the article; “…..against Tipperary our live statistics identified key problem areas with certain players at a very early stage of the game. However, on this occasion the normal system of relaying this information was dispensed with by Davy Fitzgerald and his selectors. Furthermore, when presented with the half-time printout, Davy put it in his back pocket and never looked at it.”

The article got me thinking about the effect analysing a game live can really have or is it just for show. Far from having all the answers myself I decided to post my question on Facebook and see what people thought.

It started a good debate and I got some great feedback. I will first paraphrase a very important point made by Patrick van der Meer; Don’t blame the idea just because the implementation is wrong. For example; the idea of analysing video or taking statistics live comes from the same thought process as watching the game – you are trying to view the game, make decisions that hopefully effect the outcome.

I also got the thoughts of an experienced AFL coach Mark Upton who suggested that in AFL the numbers were more important than the video. Looking at the KPI’s in-game they could tell if their game plan was being implemented on the pitch. However he certainly didn’t rule out using the video as a means of playback to players between quarters.

Only certian sports?

This was another point that came up on Facebook. Does live analysis, specifically in term of live video review, lend itself differently to particular sports.  There is no definitive answer on this, there are so many factor to consider but in my opinion I think there are sports where the impact of live video analysis would be of more benefit than others. Primarily I think in terms of sports where set-pieces are frequent and play a large part in the outcome of the game. As was said on Facebook

Let me be clear I think collecting data on matches is vital. As has been proven over and over again coaches simply can’t remember with enough accuracy what goes on during a game. Regardless of the method of collection, computer, handheld or simple notation analysis using Pen & Paper I believe you should be collecting information. After that it is about deciding what information can effect the performance and how you will feed that back to the management team.

But I’m still unsure of the power of live video especially in open free flowing games like Football and AFL. Is there really enough time between halves or quarters to show video that will impact performance? Sports such as Rugby & Hockey lend themselves to live video analysis because of the importance and frequency of Set-Plays. In both these sports, set-plays occur with enough frequency to see a pattern emerge.

Above all I think there are so many different circumstances that you can’t give a blanket answer. Ultimately it will come down the coaching and players to dictate it’s usefullness. The important thing from an Analysts perspective is to build a system of collecting data or video that is robust, accurate and meaningful to the coaches.

All thoughts welcome on this.

  • Patrick van der meer

    In the article you write: “Ultimately it will come down the coaching and players to dictate it’s usefulness”. That is very true. However if there is nobody that teaches them that there are other ways to conduct training and matches then how they going to change their ways?

    I plead that analysts are pro-active and show the coaches new ways, over and over again.

    Especially top coaches seem to lack the will to change. “I made Olympic champions with this method the last 16 years, and I will do that for the next 16 years”. Federations lack to educate the new coaches too. Changes are slow in coaching and training and fast in technology. I have the feeling that we need the analyst to close the gap.

  • Neil Melville

    A very good point by Patrick. I have observed the use of video analysis software by colleges teaching sports and coaching courses and it is interesting to note that while some institutions have been using technology for years, others aren’t there yet. The same can be said of elite level coaches – we all know some coaches who are married to their laptops/camcorders and others who are able to operate at the same level who can’t switch their one on. A case of a good coach being more than the sum of his/her skill set or simply that all coaches have gaps to close?

  • Rob Carroll

    Patrick I couldn’t agree more with your point about the need for Analysts to be proactive. There are too many analysts who just give the information that the manager asks for and never ever offer alternatives or advances.

    Sometime coaches don’t know what is possible so it is up to Analysts to constantly look at pushing the boundaries. If they don’t the profession will just stand still.

    Your second point about coach education is so important. There are so few governing bodies that teach technology to coaches. And as Neil said we all come across coaches who are afraid to turn a laptop on. I think this will change (as older coaches leave the system) but in truth NGB’s need to be more proactive in the area.

    But I also think some responsibility lies on the Profession of Performance Analysis to come up with training and quality standards themselves. Organisations such as NSCA have done this for strength and conditioning so what not in Analysis?

  • Mark Upton

    Just to chime in on the coach education angle. I think Rob makes a great point in that coaches sometimes do not know what is possible, or in other words they don’t know what they don’t know. This can be the case across many of the skill-sets required to be an effective coach (analysis, skill acquisition, leadership, developing a playing philosophy etc etc). In AFL I see our coach education bodies trying to “open the eyes” of coaches through some of their courses. However I still am fearful for coach education and the evolution of coaching, as professional clubs continue to appoint head coaches and assistant coaches with NO coaching experience or qualification. This is how the attitude of “this is how it was done by my coach when I played – so I will do it this way too” continues to be present.