When I started in this industry the role of an analyst was quite simple. He was the guy or girl who recorded the game from some dodgy bit of scaffolding went inside and tagged or coded the video. He made a little highlights video package for the manager and the players and then set about doing the same on the opposition. His role could safely be called The Video Analyst – as 90% of his job was dealing only with video.
The New Analyst
That has changed considerably over the last 4 -5 years (especially in the last 2). Now the role of a Performance Analyst is much wider and warrants quite a bit of specialization at the very top level. No longer is the PA role confined to just dealing with video, now there are a multitude of tracking hardware and software products on the market – where the data needs to be collected, stored and presented to the necessary coaches. Even going further the role has changed. Being a data analyst is a considerable role within the top clubs around the world. The sheer weight of data being generated by 3rd parties and in-house means this role is necessary. This is probably a skill I undervalued in the past, but having been in quite a large data collection project recently I can see the absolute need for this skill-set within an analysis department.
Just today I came across the video below from the 2011 MIT Sports Analytics Conference. It gives a fascinating insight into the analysis of player interviews and what can be learned from them. These researchers analyse player interviews given pre & post game while still in college (US). Using an algorithm they claim to be able to predict the likelihood of those players being arrested while in the NFL. It’s really quite amazing – and who would argue that this doesn’t fit under the analysts job description. Nobody is saying you have to know how to do the coding but isn’t it a valuable piece of analysis on any new recruit?
The Video Analyst – still exists and will always have a role to play but if you are looking to be a top analysts it might a good idea to broaden your definition of what and how and analyst does their job.
The video is only 15 mins long and is well worth a watch. (link)