January 7, 2015

Does Video Analysis Reflect Your Organisation's Goals?

Written by:
Mark Cairns

One of my favourite parts of my job at Coach Logic is that I get to visit lots of different organisations and get an insight into their training methods. A good example of this was when I recently visited West Ham Utd FC, Ealing Trailfinders RFC and Reading HC, I also got chatting to the Director of Hockey at Marlborough College. It was a busy day but a fantastic experience. These teams are really leading the way in terms of their use of video analysis and it got me thinking about how the majority of teams use video analysis and that often its use does not reflect their organisational goals.

Mark Cairns Filming Players

Video analysis started because professional and elite organisations were wanting to gain an edge over the competition. Analysis at this level has developed beyond anyone's imagination since its introduction and forms a huge part of a coaches/managers decision making process. Players have nowhere to hide, every meter they run, every change of pace and direction, every movement on and off the ball, everything down to number of times their heart beats is accounted for. In a sport like football where there is a short turn around time of about 3/4 days before the next match, managers and their support staff need this data as soon as possible and make objective decisions on selection for the next match based on this evidence.

We would all agree that the goal of a professional organisation is to WIN. Winning on the pitch allows everything else to fall into place. More shirts and season tickets sold, more TV revenue, prize money from being part of the elite competitions and share prices rising. Professional sport is big business and therefore needs to be backed by objective decisions that can stand firm under the scrutiny of chairmen and shareholders.

So where does that leave everyone else?

At the moment I believe many amateur clubs and educational institutions (University, college and school sports teams) are copying what is being done at the top. If it wasn't for a lack of human resources, time and money I suspect they would adopt exactly the same analysis strategies. This makes no sense, as their organisational goals and circumstances are completely different to that of a professional outfit. Selection is normally forced and most teams do not have the luxury of picking from a squad of 30 players of similar ability. Teams certainly cannot just drop 'bad' players and pick up 'good' players if their teams are losing. Therefore they need to be focused on developing the talent pool they have available to them. So if we are agreed that the majority of teams should have a developmental goal rather than only winning then we must also agree that their use of video analysis must differ too?

Video is the most important part of video analysis when developing players, being able to share their performance is crucial; sharing objective data is secondary to this. I remember being told that in a rugby match I missed 4 tackles! As a backrow forward I was really disappointed with this stat and for the next couple of weeks my main 'work-on' was tackling. I set this up by smashing some bags and then smashing some teammates running straight towards me. I didn't miss as many tackles in the next few games and so I must have improved.

This was nonsense...

I hadn't improved the underlying issue of my tackling, I had just improved my focus in this area and so I was less likely to make mistakes. It wasn't until I was away from the club game and exposed to international 7s rugby that I realised what my problem was. This was the first time I experienced the objective data i.e. missed tackles; alongside the video footage of the event in the match. My issue was that when making a side on tackle, I got my angle wrong and pushed too hard across the pitch which left me liable to being stepped on my inside. It wasn't only my missed tackles where I could account for this fault but the ones I just made, which on paper looked fine as they were down as completed. The result in seeing the footage meant that I was then able to develop my 'work on' time to specifically reflect this, also by just seeing this on film I was able to speak to myself on the pitch to make sure I didn't not over chase.

Anyways back to the post...

I suppose what I am saying is that players often do not get to see themselves perform and so cannot truly reflect on their performance. If analysis can be done along with the video then I am all for it but it must be used as a way of drawing a players attention to their strengths and development needs.

Like I said earlier in the post, I was recently down visiting West Ham Utd at their academy training facility. Their U15s through to U21s all use Coach Logic and they go a step further when using analysis as a development tool. Each player in their teams get their own individual copies of games and training via the CL platform to view and most importantly analyse their own performance. They are fully part of the analysis process and as such are developing ‘growth mindsets’ when it comes to development. See video embedded on Growth Mindsets below by Carol Dweck if you have some time.

This is not so hard to do, you can obviously use the Coach Logic platform to do this :) but there are other ways. I was at a coaching conference recently where I heard that a team were using a private YouTube channel to share video with their players and a private Facebook page to embed this video and encourage both open discussion on the match and private messaging between the player and coach.

I hope this has opened some of your minds to the importance of video analysis or hopefully gave you confidence in what you're already doing. I am sure there are other methods innovative coaches are using to develop their players potential so please get in touch via the comments below or tweet @coachlogic using the #CLCoach.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Cairns

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