1. Network Your Ass Off
I absolutely hate the work Networking and when I started in business it frightened the crap out of me. But over the last few years I have seen that it’s probably the best way to learn and pick up on new opportunities. When you are young and starting out Networking can be a daunting task. You attend conferences and it seems like everyone is in a click so you stick to yourself and look at your phone.
Push yourself – Aim to meet 2 new people at every conference you go to. 99% of these encounters will lead to nothing but if just 1 of those encounters leads to something it was all worth it. I actually think so many conferences (the actual talking bit) are mediocre – it’s all about the coffee breaks.
Social Media offers a great way to meet new people, slowly introduce yourself, join in a conversation. DON’T ASK FOR SOMETHING! Your first contact with someone should not be asking for a job, experience, advice – try and get on their radar before you go rushing in and asking for something from someone who doesn’t know you.
2. Don’t Waste Time with Doubters
I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve had with people who simply come with a closed mind about analysis. At first I used to waste my time trying to convince them – not any more. It just isn’t worth the hassle. If a coach doesn’t get it and isn’t open to even discussing it – move on. The world will always have flat-earthers and that’s fine, but don’t waste your time with them, analysis has bigger things to worry about.
3. Push hard… and know when to stop talking
There can be so much enthusiasm with a new role in Performance Analysis, you have an idea of how things should be done. College has taught you best practice but life inside a professional sports organisation can be very different. Pre-season is easy as the managers or players are under no pressure but wait until the season get’s started and you ship that first defeat and you will see a different side of things.
I think it is a big part of all analysts to constantly push hard within a team. Coaches and Players don’t know what they don’t know so you need to do more than just what you are asked for but you need to listen as well. You don’t know it all, there are hundreds of things going on within a team environment and while there is a time to push you need to adsorb as much as possible and pick your moment.
4. Don’t Forget The Basics
I often think at times there is some sort of technology arms race. Everyone needs more and more technology to beat the opposition. Often this comes at the cost of doing the basics right. I meet teams who spend thousands on performance analysis gear but couldn’t tell me the definition of a successful pass? Basic KPI knowledge, recording, storing and presentation are the very foundation of what we do – technology is only there to help. Don’t get lost in a sea of gadgets and gizmo’s – remember the basics and deliver them as effectively as possible.
5. Value Your Work
I have spoken previously about internships and free work so I won’t re-hash the same arguments again. Free work is ok – as long as you are getting something real out of it. The minute that stops being the case you have to ask what’s the point? I will still do some free (voluntary) work from time-to-time but ultimately that won’t pay the bills so you need to be confident in the value you add to an organisation and start charging for your time.
The other thing that people underestimate about charging is that it makes everyone pay more attention. If you are a volunteer and you keep showing up day after day people can take it for granted but start charging and people demand more from you and feel like they need to listen to you. Charging has an effect on your own efforts and how well it is received.