I have always found that there is something peculiar about the role of a Performance Analyst. While most other sports science disciplines can be left to their own devices, the role of an analyst is so ingrained in the coaching process that I often wonder should analysis just be something every coach does and not a separate discipline?
A strength and conditioning coach for example can really be left to his own devices when it comes to programme design, implementation and delivery. Yes there will be meetings and input from management but it’s not something head coaches would have to oversee directly. A plan is made and it is up to the S&C coach to oversee -and report on.
But a performance analysts role is different. Analysts (mostly) don’t take team meetings or coaching sessions, often they prepare videos or information and bring it to the coaches attention, and if it’s useful, the coaches pass it onto the players. It’s often like analysts operate with a translator between them and the players – I’m not sure nutritionists, psychologists or S&C coaches operate likewise. All sports scientists get frustrated at times if their ideas are not being heard but other disciplines seem to own their space that bit more.
This often brings me back to the point that more coaches need to take on some analysis responsibility. It doesn’t have to be everything, as we have been witnessing over the last few years the role of the analysts is ever expanding. But perhaps coaches should take on more analysis duties. Somebody I follow quite a lot on twitter is Stuart Lierich (@kickcoaching). His expertise is in Kicking but he constantly mentions analysis as a big part of his coaching process. What I find interesting is Stuart doesn’t seem to think the ‘analysis’ should be done by somebody else – he objectively monitors kicks both in game and in practice and develops a training programme accordingly. He is not taking over once the analysis is done by somebody else he assumes responsibility for it. Presumably this allows him go into greater depth than an analyst who must cover the entire game can and he can be more flexible in his use of analysis. Andy Elleray, who contributes to this site, would be another who very much combines his role as GK coach and analyst. Perhaps this combination of skills is better than each one existing separately?
Analysis is relatively new and remember a lot of current coaches grew up pre-technology, I wonder as younger coaches come through, who feel much more comfortable using technology, will they consume some of the current jobs of the Performance Analyst?