Batting Partnership Profiles: 2013 Ashes

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I have been tracking batting partnerships in the last two Ashes’ Cricket Series (2010-11 and 2013).

At the end of the 2013 Series in England, the batting partnership profiles for both teams were:

England

E 13

Australia

A13

A Comparison

EA 5 Compare

Photo Credit

The Oval (Happy A, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Demands of the New Game of Rugby Union (1996)

Shortly after the Welsh Rugby Union’s tour of Australia in 1996, the Union held a coaching conference on the theme of The Game We Have The Game We Want. I presented a short item on The Physical Demands of the New Game based on my analysis of the Australian tour and other work as a performance analyst. The presentation came at the end of a first season of professional rugby union.

I thought this might be an interesting post for my first historical piece about the analysis of rugby union performance. It was written to encourage a move from a Euro-centric view of rugby to global reach.

I started my presentation with the question:

How can we identify the physical demands of the new game that count rather than identifying the physical demands we can count?

My introductory points were:

  1. After careful observation of the world game of rugby since 1980 I do believe there is a new game of rugby available to us.
  2. It has been developed in the Southern Hemisphere and has emerged within the last year.
  3. The new game has an organic unity of player, coach, referee and administrator.

I indicated that the ‘New Game’ has physical, psychological, technical and tactical dimensions that must be integrated in performance. In the talk I focussed on the physical dimensions.

I used two examples to illustrate my points:

  • New Zealand v Australia (6 July 1996)
  • Wales in Australia 1996

In the New Zealand v Australia game:

  • Ball in Play Time was 26 minutes 43 seconds (34% of available time)
  • There was a low number of activity cycles (78) (defined as each time play started and stopped)
  • 56% of the activity cycles lasted more than 15 seconds
  • The average duration of the activity cycles was 21 seconds
  • The longest passage of play was 107 seconds and had 11 phases. A profile of the activity cycles:

Duration

First Half

Second Half

Game Total

< 10 seconds 35%

29%

32%

10 – 30 seconds

33%

49%

41%

> 30 seconds 32%

22%

27%

In a game played by Wales against NSW Country

  • Ball in Play Time was 40 minutes 49 seconds
  • 52% of the activity cycles lasted more than 15 seconds (there were 7 activity cycles over 60 seconds)
  • Wales passed the ball 179 times in the rain
  • There were four passages of play that had nine phases each
  • Wales won by 40 points and made 143 tackles.
  • A profile of the activity cycles:

Duration

First Half

Second Half

Game Total

< 10 seconds

45%

22%

34%

10 – 30 seconds

30%

49%

40%

> 30 seconds

25%

29%

26%

I noted the mobilisation of the game in the second half and the demands continuity would make with 40 minutes + ball in play time.

Two games on the WRU tour of Australia in 1996 exceeded 40 minutes ball in play: this game v NSW Country and the opening game of the tour against Western Australia.

I noted too that the New Game had a big tackling load. The top four tackle games for Wales on the tour were:

v Australia B 197 attempted tackles

v Australia (Second Test) 165 attempted tackles

v NSW Country 143 attempted tackles

v Australia (First Test) 136 attempted tackles

I suggested that the implications of the New Game were:

  • Evenly matched teams will have approximately 12 minutes of possession each per game
  • It will become increasingly difficult to lose the ball
  • Players will need to be dynamic and explosive to retain or contest possession
  • Acceleration becomes a major attribute particularly from scrummage

I thought the New Game would be dynamic, invasive, direct and disintegrative. I concluded with these points:

  • There is a New Game available to us.
  • It is combative, exciting and high-scoring
  • It can be played in all conditions.
  • It exhausts everyone.
  • It is one hell of a challenge.

Photo Credit

Rugby Match

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.