Whether you are a coach, analyst, or any other position related to on the pitch performance, there is a tough line on which to balance. How do you best develop the individual/team, and at the same time find success in the very basic goal of winning matches? While at youth levels it is commonly accepted that a winning culture should always take a back-seat, as you go up from these age grouped teams- the focus on on-the-pitch success becomes ramped up. However, how do you do both in the context of video analysis? How can you help coaches achieve their goals of winning matches in a high-pressure season, while also supporting the growth of the individual athlete – something which clearly helps the development of a success team dynamic. In my experience working with younger players, I have found the following steps to have been extremely beneficial in tackling these issues. Not every one of these will be applicable, but if you are able to find a balance you will drastically increase your output towards meeting these goals. Education through video analysis is the best way for players to gain the full picture about how you want them to do things when they eventually step onto the pitch. Making any sort of marginal gain in this aspect can be the difference between winning and losing, and seeing a player reach his full potential or not.
- Make Things Simple – Communication
One of the biggest issues that I have found with players making the most of video analysis is the simple nomenclature associated with tactical and technical aspects, as well as the team’s game model. Coaches and analysts, as masters of their craft, are clearly in-tune with many of the buzzwords used throughout football – tactical terminology, player roles, philosophies of how to play the game, etc. In many cases, even the most ardent football fan can be left scratching their head listening to staff members speak. Regardless of how complex or simple your football is, when describing information you shouldn’t complicate things unnecessarily. This holds true whether you are working with players in the youth levels or hardened professionals – increased development, skill-level, etc. should not mean convolution. One way to achieve this is to keep things consistent. For example, using something you might see on a day to basis such as a winger inverting into the channels ; keep the terminology uniform. Don’t call them channels one minute and then half-spaces the next, etc. This applies to everything tactically and technically you can see.
This simplicity should also manifest itself in how you present clips to players and staff – for use in opposition scouting, and video from your own team’s performance (matches and training both apply). While doing opposition analysis, I generally look back at their five most recent matches or choose a team that played in a similar fashion to our own. When clipping the match I look for three specific things: How they played with the ball, how they played without the ball, and set-pieces. Everything in a team’s game model boils down to these three basic phases. While the framework about how a team fits within these three phases obviously must be fleshed out and explained (using the ideas mentioned in the previous paragraph), trying to make things complex doesn’t help anybody. The coaches want the information packaged as simple and straightforward as possible so they can plan training, and the players want to get onto the pitch and train it.
- Hold Players Accountable
Every player regardless of their level, wants to become better. However, sometimes players can be more diligent in reaching this goal than others. While your primary job in delivering video analysis is relaying information to the coaching staff and athletes on the pitch, if you want to help foster the growth in the individual you need to find ways to cater to those less inclined to take the extra steps. There are two main ways to do this: 1) set-up a system that makes personal analysis a necessity and 2) find ways to help the players find entertainment in going the extra mile.
In coordination with your staff, and the ever-changing demands of the season, making video analysis available and mandatory for players helps promote development. Companies such as HUDL, alongside their Sportscode software make applying these sort of things as simple as possible. When video is shared onto their platform, you can add individual codings (clips) for every single player – this allows the athlete in question to view all their moments in a match immediately. To hold them accountable, you can also view whether or not they have actually viewed these clips. Other video platforms have similar systems and allow those in charge to track the activity of uploaded clips. Another simple way to increase accountability is to sit down with players 1v1 or split up into groups wherever possible and engage with them. More specifics on managing film sessions will be touched on in section 4.
While the “holding them accountable,” side can seem somewhat oppressive, adding entertainment value and a rewards system counteracts this effect. One way to do this is to have friendly competitions that occur built into your video analysis work. Jesse Marsch has recently talked about this sort of system he uses at Red Bull Salzburg, and I have found it to be extremely beneficial myself. Players can be rewarded “points” for actions they do on the pitch based around statistics you find important for that particular match/training session, as well as actions that may not be directly quantifiable in numbers (such as “hustle” plays, etc.) Players are naturally competitive, and having this sort of game included in film sessions A) gives the players a bit of a reprieve from the normal rigamarole and B) increases their ownership and helps them buy in more. This is only one example of how to add diversions in your video work – the possibilities are endless. Pick whatever works for you and most importantly, your players.
- Be Creative With Software/Technology
Regardless of how simple or complex your workflow is, creativity is key to getting the most of your video output. Players and coaches are not all the same – some are visual learners, some are verbal learners, some are auditory, etc. Whenever it is possible, use the tools you have to try and diversify your analysis and draw in the attention of these various learners. Sportscode, Nacsport, Longomatch, and many others are the standard for video clipping/coding of matches but these tools alone cannot be where your job ends. Telestration applications are a great way to annotate clips with notes, shapes, voice-overs, etc. to further add context to your analysis. If you are presenting a scouting report, add short text-boxes so they can read what the video is trying to display. Also, following from the previous section, ask them questions and engage with them. If you add variety to film, you will get the rewards: when it’s time to hit the training pitch and actually train for the next opponent, or what tactical tweak you are trying to make – it will make a difference.
- Manage The Film Session
When many players hear the words “film session,” it is largely viewed from the lens of a negative activity: they are historically set in a dark room, feature the staff members talking to them with little room for cooperation, and are often extremely long. This should simply not be the case. The staff and analysts are those who already know the information, so these sessions need to be tailored to the players.
Set a limit on the length of your film session – After around 20 minutes, players switch off. Make sure the opposition report, training clips, etc. are as compact as possible and have all necessary information in it at the same time (look back at section 1). One other barrier to this is the fact that the manager will often talk for ages and ages. To combat this, it takes knowledge of who you are working with to find strategies against this. If necessary, you can even add a break between the sessions or split them up for pre-training and post-training. Find what works for you and your team.
Encourage discussion and open up the platform to everyone – Instead of getting on your soapbox and telling them what you want to hear, pose questions to them and spark healthy debate. As mentioned previously, players generally have a good idea about what a match/opponent will demand from them – if other players hear their peers expressing their own ideas and opinions they will be more inclined to speak for themselves and come up solutions on their own. Another side effect of this is that the staff might even gain new perspectives themselves! Soccer is a collaborative effort and it’s important that those on the pitch are comfortable with what they are doing.
This list is just a few examples of how to gain an edge in your video analysis. The plain truth of it all is that player development and helping your team find success is not black and white – much less trying to find a balance between the two! Some of these suggestions I’ve discussed might not work with your team – depending on your workflow you may need to follow a model that works for your individual team and goals. However, I hope they can help gain some perspective into the numerous ways you can try and innovate whatever the demands on you are. As the game has continued to develop over the years, the importance of video analysis on the performance of the individual and team cannot be overstated. Therefore, the analyst (or whoever is in charge of this aspect in a team) has a duty to try and do whatever he can to make sure his output is as advantageous as possible.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything related to this subject, my email is open – I’d love to talk with you regarding anything I’ve touched on here! firstname.lastname@example.org.