A Ron Smith guest post: On The Bench

Introduction

I have invited Ron Smith to write a post about the International Football Association Board’s (IFAB) decision to “use of electronic and communication equipment in the technical area”.

Ron has been involved in football for fifty years and has integrated technology into his coaching from his early days use of film loops to share technical and tactical insights with players and coaches.

On The Bench

Simon Austin noted earlier this month:

IFAB, which decides the rules of the game, has announced that “small, hand-held electronic or communication devices will be allowed in the technical area “if used for coaching/ tactics or player welfare. This can include items as large as laptops.

It took years before approval was given for GPS systems to be worn during matches, so the introduction of devices for tactical and coaching information to be received on the bench, in whatever format, is not surprising.

The terms of reference are broad enough for anything to be relayed to the coaching staff so the relevant information will be determined by what the coach wants to know or see during the game.

Physical data could be useful if the weather conditions are different to what the players normally experience, but I would expect the coaches and physiologists to know each players’ physiological capacities and limitations.

Pre-World Cup warm up games could be used to simulate expected adverse weather conditions and identify players, if any, who may have problems.

With regards to the technical /tactical information a coach might want to receive on the bench during the game, I suggest the most useful would be of a quantitative nature rather than quantitative.

The coaches will be watching the game from the touchline and will know what is going on but the benefit of observations made by a colleague watching from an elevated position can be an advantage.

The qualitative information I would like to receive on the bench would relate to how well the team is carrying out our game plans in attack and defence, and if it is not happening to my satisfaction I would like the observations of a trusted colleague who has an aerial view. I would also have the opinion of other coaches on the bench to cross reference these observations.

It is difficult to make adjustments to the team performance during the game so whatever information I receive ought to confirm no change in the chosen strategy or lead to a change in strategy. A change would lead to implementation of Plan B or Plan C, which the players would have had to practice and be able to apply. This approach to adjusting tactics and / or team shape, or a player’s role would come from what I call ‘What If’ training based on game scenarios during the long-term preparation of the team. This is difficult but not impossible to achieve within the infrequent gatherings and constantly changing environment of international football.

I think qualitative data during the game would be limited to precise performance indicators such as attempts to play behind from specific areas of the pitch, which research has shown to have a profound effect on scoring opportunities.

I do not envisage a Head Coach watching replays of events on the bench while the game is in progress but selected passages might be viewed during stoppages in play.  The use of selected clips at half time would enable the coach to communicate visually with the players what he wants them to focus on in the second half, which he cannot do during the game.

Many sports have regulations about ‘time outs’. The availability of augmented information raises some important questions about how the IFAB decision might affect the flow of games. In women’s tennis, the WTA has permitted coaches:

to enter the court to provide tactical advice and support … armed with analytical evidence of what is unfolding on court, delivered via mobile applications supplied by the tour’s software analytics partner.

In IPL cricket,  there are four strategic time outs, each of two and a half minutes: the bowling side can ask for a break between overs 6 and 9 while the batting team can opt for the same anytime between 13 and 16 overs

I wonder if some form of time out will be the next initiative IFAB discusses.

The 2018 World Cup gives us a great opportunity to see how the availability of touch line technology works.

Photo Credit

Chertsey Town v Banstean Athletic (Chris Turner, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Substitutions (Ronnie MacDonald, CC BY 2.0)

Off to Merici

On Monday, 14 May, I have an opportunity to visit Merici College, Canberra at the invitation of Dr Kathryn White.

Kathryn is a science and engineering teacher and runs a series of visiting speakers for Merici students to share with them current Australian science research.

My topic will be performance analysis in sport. I am using only data from women’s sport for this presentation. Given the school’s connection with Australia rules football, I have designed some activities linked to AFLW data.

I am hoping that this can be a flipped, BYOD event. I have prepared a Google Slides presentation with links to the AFWL 2018 season data.

The Google Slides presentation.

There is a Speaker Deck version of the talk too.

 I hope to connect any students keen to develop their analysis skills with Jocelyn Mara at the University of Canberra.

Managerial change in the EPL 2017-18: standings at the end of week 37

I have updated my Flourish visualisation of the impact of managerial change in the EPL in 2017-2018 up to and including week 37.

The Flourish visualisation can be controlled by the viewer.

The graphic uses a very basic momentum scoring system: +1 win, 0 draw, -1 defeat. These outcomes are regardless of the league position of the opposing team.

There is a gap in the data for Week 31 of the season. These games will be completed this week. (Two teams are hidden in the graphic: Leicester has the same momentum points as Everton; West Brom’s recent form has elevated them to match Swansea.)

Five of the bottom six teams in the EPL are teams that underwent managerial change in the season. One of them, Stoke, has been relegated.

My video of the animation:

Mara Averick kindly created a gif and mp4 for me on my last attempt to share a Flourish animated visualisation.

This time, I used:

  • Gifox for a screen capture gif.
  • Ezigif to create an mp4 file of the gif
  • Zamar to convert the mp4 file into a .mov file for WordPress upload.

I returned to Ezigif  to compress the .mov file into a gif small enough to upload to WordPress (1Mb limit). (see Gif optimisation information.)

Photo Credit

Emirates Stadium (The West End, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)