Recently, we had the opportunity to consult with a well known & successful NCAA D1 college program. An interesting discussion occurred during our first meeting with the staff, when after a tour of their fantastic facilities, we sat down to discuss Performance Analysis. The head coach, who is held in high regard among his peers and others who take interest in US college soccer, mentioned something he had seen on Twitter. He stated: Performance Analysis is so important these days it’s something that’s at the very top of our priorities for improvement”, before opening his phone to play this:

 

What followed was a slightly awkward conversation, in which the coach was challenged (politely and respectfully) about his background knowledge of analysis and his aspirations for how it might be implemented. It soon became clear that not just the head coach, but all 3 members of staff saw analysis as essentially everything related to video of games.

During this discussion we asked:

Assuming wasn’t Barcelona, and it was similar clips of your team’s last outing….

  1. Were you happy with the performance?
  2. Do you think you would win in the long-term if you performed like that in every game?
  3. Did your team achieve their previously outlined objectives?
  4. What will you work on in training this week?

This interaction proved to be an essential turning point in the consultancy project. As with most principles which look to improve coaching methods, the initial 75% of improvement can be made quickly, before the fine-tuning really begins.

Previously, the coach had been somewhat reactive and almost commentary like in his post-game analysis and feedback to the players. He would take some key moments in games, such as the ones in the Barcelona clip above, and use them to point out player movements, corrections & errors in decision-making. Here at CoachTech, we consider the video above to be tactical analysis, not Performance Analysis, and there are some key differences between the two.

If we look at analysis as a whole, it’s commonly defined as:

a detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand it’s nature or to determine it’s essential features”

or….

“separation of a whole into it’s component parts”

This is by no means a criticism of the clip itself. They are becoming more and more common on social media as at all levels modern day coaching becomes more detail oriented, time consuming and technical. Coach Paint is a fantastic tool ,which we recommended to many of our consultancy clients and it has some fantastic benefits.

However, this is not Performance Analysis.

Performance Analysis – ‘a specialist discipline involving systematic observations to enhance performance and improve decision making’

The key words above are “systematic observations”. We already know that accurate recall post-game for coaches is around 40%, and many different studies have reinforced these findings. As a result, it’s essential for a coach to use objective information wherever possible to supplement his or her subjective opinions in order to guide their team based on accurate information.

In picking some example video clips and analyzing the tactical decision making of one individual game, a coach may be doing a disservice to the players, and possibly also themselves. Here’s a theoretical example to illustrate the point….

A coach chooses 2 incidents from the weekend’s game in which a promising counter attack does not result in a goal.

Based on this information, a logical decision may be to design a session midweek to work on counter attacks.

However what if we put some context around these two failed attacks and told you that the team also scored from the third counter attack in the same game. Would the same decision be made? Furthermore, what if we knew that over the last 5 games, the team has had 10 counter attacking opportunities (defined by the coach) and scored from 4 of them, with a success rate of 40%.

To take the example a step further, what if historically the team has scored 40% of it’s counter attacks over the last 25 games, and the average conversion rate of these chances is only 25% in NCAA soccer?

By contextualizing performances in this area, using historical data of systematic observations, the coaching feedback, selection of video clips and session design may be completely different this reactionary perspective on the game.

You may want to see how Jesse Marsch used analysis to turn New York Red Bull’s into a high pressing, turnover machine, before moving to Europe….

Going into a campaign, it’s important for a team to set key objectives for individual games and the season as a whole. By designing a system of systematic observations and targets (or Key Performance Indicators) for their team, coaches can use Performance Analysis to reinforce a playing philosophy on a game by game basis and use the information gathered to better drive training and performances.

Some coaches have the resources to pay for data insights from a provider such as OPTA or Instat, while some colleges see the value in hiring a full-time analyst on staff (including CoachTech founder Oliver Gage who was hired by Virginia in 2013). Others may need to find other ways to deliver them.

CoachTech has helped to educate many colleges, amateur and professional clubs in over 20 countries around the World, including multi-coach deals with 4 Premier League teams heading into the 2019/2020 season. Our Evidence-Based Coaching & Match Analysis Course was designed so any coach or analyst can build their own framework for measuring performances, regardless of resources.

The key message is that it’s essential to know what the end product of your analysis should look like before you begin planning the implementation.

  • Is your current analysis process designed to measure your playing philosophy?
  • Can you engage your players differently and keep them interested?
  • Can the players take control of their own development?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it might be worth rethinking the process.