Performance Analysis Books

Performance Analysis Books

Although there are not a huge selection of books on the market to deal with Performance Analysis in Sports I wanted to give a brief outline of some of them here. While not all will be relevant to your sport I think there is value in reading how other sports have applied the principle of analysis and discovering new and innovative ways you can adapt that to your sport. So in no particular order here are my Top 10.

1. Moneyball The Art of Winning An Unfair Game

For me this book changed how I though about Analysis. Although this book is much more about a story than any scientific study it is based on the work conducted by Bill James in the early 80’s. Bill James was a mathematician who got annoyed when looking at the status quo stats that were produced. After a lot of hard work he started to come up with ‘new’ stats that better reflected how the game.

From Amazon: Billy Beane, general manager of MLB’s Oakland A’s and protagonist of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, had a problem: how to win in the Major Leagues with a budget that’s smaller than that of nearly every other team. Conventional wisdom long held that big name, highly athletic hitters and young pitchers with rocket arms were the ticket to success. But Beane and his staff, buoyed by massive amounts of carefully interpreted statistical data, believed that wins could be had by more affordable methods such as hitters with high on-base percentage and pitchers who get lots of ground outs. Given this information and a tight budget, Beane defied tradition and his own scouting department to build winning teams of young affordable players and inexpensive castoff veterans.

If you are looking for an entertaining read this David v Goliath story, using statistical analysis as their weapon is must read.

2. Basketball on Paper: Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis

This looks like an excellent book about the statistics surrounding baseball. It was published at the end of 2004 and from the book the author managed to get himself employed in the NBA. Don’t expect an updated version soon, the author stated; Now that I do work in the NBA and apply new tricks of the trade, I can’t really write another book sharing my secrets. But Basketball on Paper contains the framework, the basic insights, and a lot of the numbers for understanding a lot more about the beautiful game.

From Amazon: Dean Oliver highlights general strategies for teams when they’re winning or losing and what aspects should be the focus in either situation. He describes and quantifies the jobs of team leaders and role players, then discusses the interactions between players and how to achieve the best fit. Oliver conceptualizes the meaning of teamwork and how to quantify the value of different types of players working together. He examines historically successful NBA teams and identifies what made them so successful: individual talent, a system of putting players together, or good coaching.

I know basketball might not be your sport but games that involve an ebb and flow can be more difficult to quantify. Where as baseball can be a little easier and it really only involves one action at a time, basketball involves more interaction and game dynamics. It would be interesting to see if their are principles that could be applied to similar sports like football and rugby?. This is one is definitely on my shopping list.

3.Handbook for Soccer Match Analysis

For those coaches looking for a practical guide on football match analysis I would recommend this book. It offers a good balance between theory and practice. It will guide you through the reasons why match analysis has become important – to developing a notational analysis system – to general advice on what to look for when analysing.

From AmazonAnalyzing individual and team play is essential to improving performance in soccer, but identifying the right information and putting it to good use can be tricky. This is the first book to focus entirely on match analysis in the game of soccer. Representing an essential and unique resource, this handbook looks at the very latest in match analysis research, and at the innovative technologies being used by professional clubs. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, it documents the methods by which coaches, sport scientists and fitness coaches can improve individual and team performance in soccer.

This book was published in 2006 and while things move fast in technology the general principles offered here still stand. I have used this book as inspiration for some of the articles for this site.  You will also find it difficult to find 3 more experienced analysts in football than the authors; Christopher Carling , Mark Williams, Tom Reilly.

4. Performance Assessment for Field Sports: Physiological, Psychological and Match Notational Assessment in Practice

While this book only contains one chapter on Match Analysis I have included it here because the role of a performance analyst is continually being redefined. More and more analysts are having to deal with hear-rate data, GPS data etc, and any data that is performance related. As our role as Performance Analysts evolve it is important we understand – to at least a basic level- the other performance indicators, how best to measure them and what to do with the data.

From Amazon: What are the most effective tools, techniques and technologies available to coaches and sport scientists in the assessment of player and team performance? This is the first book dedicated to the assessment of performance in field sports such as soccer, rugby, hockey and lacrosse. It provides detailed and clear information about the laboratory and field-based methods that can be used to evaluate improvements in individual and team performance, from basic physiological assessment to the use of video and information technologies.

This book is written by the same authors as The Handbook of Soccer Match Analysis. Its one I have owned for quite a while. It is definitely more ‘academic’ than the other books listed here but acts really well as a reference book.

5. The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball

I started with baseball so I thought I would finish with it. The basis of this work comes from the work Bill James did in the early 80’s. This is the modern version of the same theory applied by James. It is written by 3 baseball statisticians and although there are many books written along a similar theme (no doubt made popular by Moneyball) this seems to be the best of them.

From Amazon: Continuing in the grand tradition of sabermetrics, the authors provide a revolutionary way to think about baseball with principles that can be applied at every level, from high school to the major leagues. Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin cover topics such as batting and pitching matchups, platooning, the benefits and risks of intentional walks and sacrifices, the legitimacy of alleged “clutch” hitters, and many of baseball’s other theories on hitting, fielding, pitching, and even baserunning. They analyze when a strategy is a good idea and when it’s a bad idea, and how to more closely watch the “inside” game of baseball.

As with all of these books I think it matters little what your sport is, there is something to be learned from the principles applied across all sports. The ‘what’ to analyse might be unique to particular sports but the ‘how’ , ‘when’, who’ and ‘what for’ are not.


6. The Essentials of Performance Analysis: An Introduction by Mike Hughes and Ian Franks

7. Research Methods for Sports Performance Analysis by Peter O’Donoghue

8. Notational Analysis of Sport: Systems for Better Coaching and Performance in Sport by Mike Hughes and Ian Franks

9. Match Analysis and Game Preparation by Henny Kormelink and Tjeu Seeverens

10. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport by University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

If there are others out there please let everybody know by leaving a comment.



Rob Carroll. Founder of The Video Performance Analyst. Always learning.