Performance Analysis: Pedagogy and Understanding


dscf7530-225x300I have been sitting on this post for a week.
I received two alerts before Christmas that gave me wonderful back to the future moments.
The first was to an exciting employment opportunity with the Football Association as a Performance Analysis Education Lead.
The second was to Leicester City’s Tactical Insights day on 24 February 2016.
Both events set me off thinking and prompted a search of my archives.

Performance Analysis Education Lead

The job description for the Lead post includes these role responsibilities:

  • You will develop a strategy and lead the creation, delivery and implementation of Performance Analysis content for the coaching pathway.
  • You will need to assess the demand and develop performance analysis qualifications and CPD opportunities for the whole game. (My emphasis.)
  • You will be involved in the development of Performance Analysis Educational resources and programmes to underpin the understanding of guidelines and position statements in the Performance area.
  • Research will be important in the department and you will be part of the team working on research projects to underpin and inform future course and content development.

The post holder will “collaborate with leads of other disciplines in the Performance Education Team to ensure a consistent approach and alignment of delivery across all areas” and “liaise with the Head of Performance Analysis and Insight in the Teams structure”.
The personal qualities expected of the post holder are:

  • A strong academic and professional delivery background.
  • A strong ability to write educational content to a variety of audiences.
  • Experience of developing and delivering content in an academic institution (at least to undergraduate level would be an advantage).
  • An MSc in sports science or related area and may hold a teaching qualification.

In addition:

  • Your knowledge of contemporary models of performance analysis in elite sport and the supporting technology and methodologies is excellent.
  • You will have had some practical delivery experience.
  • You have the ability to demonstrate excellent presentation, practical and theoretical delivery with the ability to use a variety of approaches and inspire learners.
  • As a leader and role model, you will bring energy and positivity to the role and you have a passion for developing people.
  • You will already have a strong professional network and you enjoy building relationships with different groups of people and you have a track record of achieving your performance goals.

Tactical Insights

The Performance Analysis Department at Leicester City Football Club have planned an educational opportunity “which we feel is rarely available, particularly to Analysts, to discuss and learn about tactical approaches at the highest level of the game“. The day is being hosted at the King Power Stadium.
The Analysis Department are keen to provide an affordable event accessible to those working throughout football”.
The speakers for the day include:

  • Roy Hodgson
  • Eric Hamrén
  • Edward Metgod
  • Bernd Stöber
  • Rob Mackenzie
  • Iñigo Idiakez
  • Adam Sadler
  • Paul Balsom

Back to the Future

I am elated that the two alerts gave me an opportunity to think about the progress of performance analysis in football. The trigger for my thinking was Paul Balsom‘s name.
Paul was a student at South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education (latterly Cardiff Institute of Higher Education, then UWIC and then Cardiff Met) in the years before I arrived there in 1991. Whenever a student submitted a performance analysis dissertation at UWIC in the 1990s, Paul’s undergraduate research was a primary source for cohorts of Cardiff students. I was delighted that Paul developed his work at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm in the 1990s and has been able to pursue a remarkable career in football.
I imagine Paul met Peter Teadwell and Dave Cobner at South Glam. Peter and Dave were early adopters of disciplined insights into the observation and analysis of performance. Their pedagogical approaches laid the foundations to three decades of performance analysis in Cardiff. This work continues today and is energised by two connected educators, Dave’s son Darrell and his colleague Adam Cullinane.
I think the Leicester day provides a wonderful opportunity for what I am thinking of as CPM … continuous professional microlearning.
The FA post offers a once in a generation opportunity to link microlearning and work based learning opportunities in a learning environment that can harness and harvest the best of our digital world.
Much of my thinking about the two alerts has been about how to record the activities of the invisible giants in a pre-Internet age of the 1980s who were offering the pedagogical insights that will inform the FA Lead role and the game understanding explorations in Leicester in February.
In 2016, I hope to explore some of these early days secure in the knowledge that football is building upon them. Literally in the case of St George’s Park, the home base for the Performance Analysis Lead-to-be where Walter Winterbottom is remembered.
Walter’s handout on ‘Fitness Training’ to the First UEFA Course for Trainers and Coaches (1959) included this observation:

For example, a track of Robson, England right half, in the match England v Wales gives walking 660 yards, jogging 3,210 yards, sprinting 1,385 yards. Altogether Robson made 42 plays at the ball during the 90 minutes. This was considered to have been a fairly tough game for Robson as a wing half.

Another speaker at the Leicester day, Roy Hodgson, was starting his secondary schooling at John Ruskin Grammar School, whilst Walter was sharing his insights with UEFA trainers and coaches.
It will be fascinating to hear Roy talk about his journey from Croydon to the analysis environment in 2016.

Photo Credits

King Power (Dom Fellows, CC BY 2.0)
Walter Winterbottom (FA)


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