Performance Analysis is still a new discipline and we are all learning the rights and wrongs of the job. With that said however, there are a number of similarities across sports and the job demands are similar at all levels of sports. Regardless of the sport you work in there are some fundamentally important things you need to get right or your analysis work will go to waste.
In my time working and talking with Performance Analysts all over the world I have come up with my 10 commandments of Performance Analysis. If you think there are any I have missed or some that you live by yourself, leave a comment below.
Too often I see performance analysis used as a stick to beat players with. Analysis is like any coaching tool, you are trying to improve your players and yes there is a time and place to highlight mistakes but, if you constantly use analysis to criticize you wont get any buy-in from the players. Remember that the analysis is a learning tool and needs to be used as such with both constructive criticism and positive reinforcement.
It is so important to work as hard on your presentation as anything else. If information is presented badly it will just be lost. I have mentioned it before but something like the Monday Stats Box. Another way to think about it is like a tabloid newspaper. If there is a big point to be made make it stand out, you can always have the detail for those who want it. Don’t lose players and management in a sea of information.
Remember that as an analyst you need to deal with the 4 areas above. Granted many other staff will be employed to deal with technical, mental and physical aspects but the analyst has a role to play. I’m sure most analyst have been asked to make a motivational movie – but how many have worked with a psychologist to look at body language or positive reenforcement on a play-by-player basis? Likewise how many of you take the camera onto the training pitch and video the technique of players? Analysis should cover all 4 areas.
This is important to remember, there is a temptation to think that the you can measure everything. While I would like to believe that, I don’t think it’s true. There are sports that lend themselves more to prediction and precise analysis but then there are other that still require a healthy balance of the objective and the subjective. Don’t step measuring everything you can, just be aware that some things can’t be counted.
We all know that famous saying; ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’. Keep that in mind, although many old school coaches would have you count nothing it is important to keep you analysis in perspective. Statistics can sometimes lie and they don’t always tell the full picture.
Make sure to listen to coaches and players subjective analysis. Analysis doesn’t always tell the full story.
Nobody is saying that you have to become an expert coach but you do need to understand the concepts and strategies surrounding your sport. As an analyst you are often the eyes of the coaching staff, therefore you need to understand there coaching philosophy and objectives. It would be important that you can get to a level 2 coach in your sport. This will show employers a good level of understanding as well as knowing the job technically.
I can’t stress this enough. I don’t know how many times I have been shown pages and pages of information on a game and while the information is interesting I have to wonder if it’s really useful. There is no point collecting information for the sake of it. You have to start from the point of view that will the management use the information and will it affect the decisions they make. If not – why are you collecting the information?
Remember that players (and managers) have different learning styles. at it’s most basic level there are 3 – Audio, Visual and Kinesthetic. It’s important that you cater for all 3 types when you present information. Video is only one form of feedback and don’t be immediately put off if every player doesn’t buy into it.
Another way to put this is ‘coach the person not the athlete’ – they are not robots.
In television there is a saying ‘never work with children or animals’. My own mantra is be prepared for failure when working with technology. Despite your best intentions and the progress of technology it can still let you down. Make sure you have everything charged and if at all possible have a backup.
Create a checklist and before you leave have everything in order.
As I mentioned at the start we are in a brand new industry, I would estimate that it is really only 15 years old. When you compare that to other disciplines like strength and condition and psychology there is still a long way to go in terms of finding out best practices. It is vital that you are willing to open your mind to new ideas and concepts. Conferences, networking events and blogs are a great way to both learn and share new ideas. You should never stop trying to learn new things about analysis, we still have so much to find out about the area.