Earlier this year I wrote quite a short piece questioning if all Coaches Should be Analysts. Despite its length ( or perhaps because of it), it proved to be quite a popular piece. Subsequently Mike Christie, Performance Intelligence and Analysis Advisor to Own The Podium (Canadian Sport), asked me would a write an extended version for their High Performance Journal.
SIRCuit is a bi-annual online magazine and in their own words “To achieve excellence and podium results in sport our high performance coaches need to continue to learn. A plethora of studies and new research are published every day and it is a challenge to know what is available, to locate the material and sometimes the most challenging part is to find the time to read. This e-journal incorporates highly relevant articles as well as video tutorials, interviews and podcasts to enhance the learning experience.”
You can read the full article I wrote here (page 9), there are loads of good pieces in the journal so it’s well worth checking out.
Below is the opening paragraph of the piece;
As a practicing Performance Analyst I have always found that there is something peculiar about the role. Most other sports science personnel such as Strength and Conditioning, Psychology, and Nutritionists are invariably left to their own devices. These practitioners, while consulting with the Head Coach or Manager, often present their plans, goals and findings directly to the athletes and not through the coaches.
In my experience, performance analysts don’t have the same level of interaction with players. The job is more of an interpreter, they act as the eyes and ears for the coaches, pass the information onto them who in turn deal with the athletes directly. This is somewhat understandable, while the other sports science personnel need to have a deep understanding of the physical and emotional demands of the sport, the minutiae of the technical and tactical elements are something they do not need to concern themselves with. This often means their skills are easier to transfer from sport to sport. The principles of what they practice remain the same, they are simply applying their skills under a new set of sports specific demands. The analyst on the other hand must understand the coach’s philosophy, the game plan and both the technical and tactical requirements of the sport. This sports specific understanding is much harder to transfer.
The role of an analyst often involves more interaction with the coaches than the athletes. In a recent study on the role of performance analysts within elite football, 72.9% of respondents said they did not lead the feedback to players (Wright et al., 2013). This is not something I have found with the other sports science disciplines. For an analyst to have a similar working relationship (as other sports science disciplines) with the athletes, they would need to be a coaching expert in that sport, understand the philosophy of the coach so they are not sending mixed messages and they must possess all the technical expertise required to fill the role of an analyst. If you are such a skilled coach it is more likely that you would be applying your skills as a coach and not an analyst.
You can read the full article I wrote here (page 9)!