The Occupational Culture of the Performance Analyst: Providing a Video Service

In the last couple of weeks I have been discussing an Honours’ project with a student at the University of Canberra. I have been encouraging him to think about researching the occupational culture of the performance analyst in sport. By coincidence I had just reviewed a paper about delivering a performance analysis service to a basketball team in Japan.
We have had almost two decades now of an occupation in sport that can be described as ‘performance analyst‘. Whilst I was discussing the project with the Honours’ student I was prompted to think about how little we share about the tacit knowledge of supporting and serving coaches and athletes with augmented information. Recent discussions of performance analysis as the practice of “recording, processing, and interpreting events that take place in training and/or competition in sport” are further stimuli to explore the occupational culture and community of practice.
Whilst searching through my electronic files to find material to share with the Honours’ student I discovered some pictures taken by colleagues at the Australian Institute of Sport. The pictures were of the video service set up for the 2005 ICF World Canoe Slalom Championships in Penrith, Australia.
As host organiser in 2005, Australian Canoeing provided a video service to competing nations. There were some significant logistical issues to overcome to provide this service. The aim of the team delivering the service was to provide an uninterrupted video feed. The service team comprised staff from the Australian Institute of Sport and the New South Wales Institute of Sport. It was a very young team. The video feed came into the raft shed at Penrith and was distributed to 30 end user points. We had a wired system for the video feed and to ensure minimal disruption ran a parallel back up system.

Given the distance from the furthest camera on the course to the raft shed we amplified all video signals. On the first day of competition the weather was so bad that we lost a number of connections and had to lay out new video lines. We used up a great deal of our redundant equipment in the first day and the proximity of the course to a Dick Smith store and a Bunnings DIY store saved us from running the event without any back up resources.
My role at the event was to oversee the team delivering the video service and to liaise with all nations requiring a video feed. It was a wonderful learning opportunity for me and the service team. My aim throughout was to offer an invisible service that provided uninterrupted augmented information for coaches and athletes. For the finals of the competition we provided a feed from the broadcast coverage of the event as an additional option for the nations using the video service.
Set up and testing of the video equipment for the event took three days. We managed to disassemble the equipment in one day. We kept a detailed inventory of equipment and did not lose one item at the event. We acquired a vast library of DVD, hard disk and DV recordings of the event that were used subsequently for coach education and development resources.
The Control Desk

Looking Out into the Room

Splitting the signals:

The view from the back of the room:

Down Time:

All of the service team have stayed in sport science after the World Championships. I am now searching for a picture of them at the event.
I hope this is the first of many posts about the occupational culture of the performance analyst. I see it as a way of exploring and sharing tacit knowledge. I like the way Wikipedia explains tacit knowledge:

  • While tacit knowledge appears to be simple, it has far reaching consequences and is not widely understood.
  • With tacit knowledge, people are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. Effective transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact and trust.
  • Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we do not recognize in ourselves.
  • The tacit aspects of knowledge are those that cannot be codified, but can only be transmitted via training or gained through personal experience. … It involves learning and skill but not in a way that can be written down.

Five years after the World Championships it is interesting to reflect on the learning opportunities available at large scale events. It struck me at the time that such events offer a different scale of event to apply the principles we use in 1:1 services to coaches in training and competition environments.



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