What is it we do in Performance Analysis?

One of Jacquie Tran‘s delightful sketchnotes appeared in my Twitter feed a couple of days ago …

It coincided with a message I received from Jamie Coles and the subsequent guest posts that appeared on Clyde Street today.

Doug‘s definition of performance analysis includes ‘insight’, ‘information’ and ‘decisions’. Jacquie’s note of his definition sent me off thinking about some other words too … ‘augmentation’, ‘support’ and ‘actionable’.

In my thinking, I returned to two seminal papers from the same year, 1991, that helped me reflect on what the craft of performance analysis might involve at the time I was establishing the Centre for Notational Analysis in Cardiff:

Ian Franks and Gary Miller, Training coaches to observe and remember. Their abstract:

This study tested a video training method that was intended to improve the observational skills of soccer coaches. Three groups of soccer coaches were tested prior to and following a training period. The experimental group was exposed to a video training programme that was designed to highlight certain key elements of soccer team performance. Although both control groups were exposed to the same video excerpts as the experimental group, they were given different orienting activities. The subjects in control group 2 were asked to discuss these excerpts with a colleague and then write a report on what they had seen, while control group 1 members repeated prior test conditions that required them to remember certain events that preceded the scoring of goals. The results indicate that, although all coaches were incapable of remembering more than 40% of pertinent information, the subjects in the experimental group improved their ability to recall all events that surrounded the ‘taking of shots’.

Richard Schmidt‘s, Frequent augmented feedback can degrade learning: Evidence and interpretations. His abstract includes these observations:

Several lines of evidence from various research paradigms show that, as compared to feedback provided frequently (after every trial) less frequent feedback provides benefits in learning as measured on tests of long-term retention.  … several interpretations are provided in terms of the underlying processes that are degraded by frequent feedback.

I do think both are very important primary sources for performance analysts. They form part of the epistemological foundations that informed Doug’s presentation.

His definition also includes ‘effective’ and ‘efficient’ dimensions. Both emphasise for me the social skills of the performance analyst in harmony with the everyday coaching environment and the rhythms of a season.

Jacquie’s sketchnote raised again for me the inevitable merging of performance analysis and analytics. I revisited Chris Anderson’s (2014) definition of sports analytics as:

The discovery, communication, and implementation of actionable insights derived from structured information in order to improve the quality of decisions and performance in an organization.

And Bill Gerard’s (2016) proposal for “a narrow definition of sports analytics” as the analysis of tactical data to support tactics-related sporting decisions. He suggests “this narrow definition captures the uniqueness and the innovatory nature of sports analytics as the analysis of tactical performance data.”

I am immensely grateful to Jacquie for this prompt. I was not able to attend at which Doug and others presented and found her visualisation of the day very welcome.

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