Performance Data Analyst

Back in 2010, I wrote about the occupational culture of a performance analyst. The post included photographs taken of the video service room at the 2005 Canoe Slalom World Championships held at the Penrith Olympic course in Australia.

The service require a massive amount of hard wiring and included a duplicate system in case of service interruption. Memories of this event were stirred today by an advert for a performance data analyst position in British Canoe Slalom.

In the United Kingdom, canoe slalom and hockey were two early adopters of video technology. In canoe slalom, Alan Edge was at the forefront of this early adoption and some of Alan’s work is discussed by Graham Jones and Lew Hardy (1990).

I thought our work developed Alan’s original ideas twenty years on with the help of some rudimentary digital technologies.

The post advertised this week moves that work on to a different level.

The position description is:

Role and Person Summary

The primary aim of this role will be to leverage existing/new data structures and intel within the British Canoe Slalom program to improve coach-athlete knowledge of factors enhancing or detracting success in “on water” technical performance. To meet this end, we are looking for someone whom is both curious and personally driven and capable of leading video/data support at both international & domestic competitions & training environments. The candidate should have a thirst for seeking knowledge and establishing successful partnerships with key stakeholders. They must have the ability to marry video based technical information with objective numerical data across varying time domains. He/She should have the abilty to display and convey insight using appropriate visualisation tools that captures the appropriate narrative around key performance questions at both the individual athlete and group level. This will include the ability to enhance learning through the coach via ‘insight’ garnered from observational, qualitative and quantitative means.

Outside of this, the successful candidate will form part of a close knit group of successful coaches, athletes and support team which strives for excellence on a daily basis. He/she should be accepting of the need to be innovative without sacrificing the World Class basics already in place within the program.

Working Relationships

  • Head coach and other podium/podium potential coaches
  • Canoe Slalom Performance analyst
  • Canoe Slalom Physical Preparation coach
  • Canoe Slalom athlete cohort
  • EIS Sport Intelligence unit
  • EIS Performance Innovation team/external partners
  • EIS Performance Analysis/S&C teams
  • Head of Performance Support

Main Tasks and Activities

Technical priority:

  • The provision and future development of ‘in the moment’ water side video and race analytics to aid coaching feedback on technical performance.
  • Develop effective data visualisations that impacts performance decisions.
  • Manage and help develop comprehensive performance databases
  • Work alongside Canoe Slalom Physical Preparation Specialist in linking performance intel from land-based programs to on water performance.
  • Provide competition support (video and race analysis) for select international races throughout the year.
  • Assist existing performance analyst in the provision of daily analysis support within the training environment.

This role may involve training, supervising, working with and/or being in sole charge of children and young people. The successful applicant will therefore be required to apply for a disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the CRB).  A disclosure is an impartial and confidential document that details an individual’s criminal record and where appropriate gives details of those who are banned from working with children. Having a criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to obtaining a position.

The post holder shares with all colleagues the responsibility:

for making suggestions to improve the working situation and contribute to positive employee relations within their area of work and the EIS as a whole;

to cooperate with measures introduced to ensure there is equality of opportunity in employment and sports equity; and in addition for post holders with a management responsibility to encourage their staff to ensure that they comply with all aspects of the equal opportunities in employment and sports equity policies and practices.

for ensuring that the working environment is free of sexual and racial harassment and intimidation and any other form of harassment constituting unacceptable behaviour which is personally offensive.

to comply with all aspects of the EIS Health and Safety Policy and Arrangements and, in addition, for post holders with a management responsibility to encourage their staff to ensure that they also comply with all aspects of these arrangements.

to comply with all aspects of any codes of conduct that might apply by virtue of the EIS having a presence in facilities operated by third parties.

of adhering to any professional codes of conduct appropriate to your profession or other codes of conduct that might be deemed applicable to sports science and sports medicine practitioners in general.


A qualification at degree level in computer science, sports science, biomechanics, performance analysis, engineering or a related subject. (Essential)

Post graduate degree specialising in performance / data analysis or equivalent (e.g. mathematics, computer science, bioinformatics, biomechanics, data science / analytics, engineering). (Desirable)

Essential Experience

Some experience in the provision of performance analysis support or data science to small teams with a portfolio of impacting performance (sporting or industry).

Experience of implementing innovative ‘end to end’ workflows (capture to feedback) on a range of video and data analysis platforms.

Experience of applying the appropriate scientific and statistical approaches to performance analysis and interrogation of questions (data validity, user reliability, normative profiling etc).

Experience in profiling, trend analysis, and managing data sets that systematically track, monitor and objectify performance (sporting or industry).

Experience of using appropriate data visualisation approaches to produce compelling insight to ‘land the message’ and develop ‘narratives’ with the end user.

Experience of project managing, coordinating and collaborating.

Knowledge and Skills


An understanding of the needs of high performers (elite athletes or not) and coaches/managers in a high-performing environments.

Thirst and drive to develop and implementing innovative ideas and putting them into practice, including working in an applied and integrated manner.

Ability to communicate complex data (video and numerical) in terms that are easily understood by a wide range of audiences.

Highly proficient in using data analysis, video analysis & visualisation software (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Tableau or equivalent).

Proficient skills using industry standard data analysis software’s in one of the following: Matlab, R, Python or similar.

Existing skills in fostering productive relationships with performance staff.

Ability to work both independently and within a team environments.

Ability to problem solve, work under pressure and make effective decisions.

Excellent communication and influencing skills that can motivate behavioural change and have a positive impact on performance.


Skills in querying data sets (e.g Microsoft Access, SQL) and programming languages (e.g. R, python, matlab) and understanding of databases in general.

Skills in data cleansing, structuring and manipulating multiple datasets, ‘messy’ and incomplete datasets.

Proficient knowledge and understanding of the statistical analysis of High Performance Sport.

Ability to scientifically validate and interpret the methodology of test protocols and data and other scientific data.

An understanding of the various sports science disciplines.

There is a list of other essential skills too.

An interest in sport and recognition of the importance of promoting and supporting equality, safeguarding and anti-doping within sport.

Ability to work irregular and unsocial hours as required involving work outside normal office hours, at evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.

Ability to communicate effectively in English.

Be eligible to work within the UK.

Ability to work under pressure and prioritise own workload.

I imagine there will be lots of applications for this position. I wonder what Alan Edge might make of this iteration of his foundational work.

Canoe Slalom: Gate Judging at Oceania 2012

This year’s canoe slalom Oceania Championships took place at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium from 24-26 February.

During the event I videoed a section of the course that gave judges a great opportunity to develop their observational skills.

The video here shows a number of C1M paddlers negotiating the gates 16 to 19 at the bottom of the Penrith course. The paddlers were competing in the semi-final run of the class.

I have added my own audio commentary but point out that this is my observation not a report of the judges’ decisions in that section of the course.

A high resolution copy of the video without my commentary is available at

The video has an Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons 3.0 license.

Insights for Coaches from Learning Design

I have just returned from Bradys Lake in Tasmania.

I was there for a canoe slalom race that was part of the selection process for the Australian canoe slalom team.

Every time I go to a sport event I think about the relationships that athletes and coaches build to develop performances. In Donald Schon tradition I reflect in action and on action. I believe that I bring an educational approach to my own coaching and relationships with athletes and hope that I try to improve my coaching continuously.

At present I have a voracious appetite to learn more about the technical aspects of canoe slalom. I have never paddled a kayak and so my coaching of the sport is based entirely upon my real-time observation and an unequivocal commitment to athlete flourishing. Sometimes I fail miserably in both regards but I do have a philosophy that guides me, helps me to get back on track and bounceback.

I was thinking about this philosophy this morning when I received a link from Stephen Downes to Abhijit Kadle’s post on Learning Design Philosophy. In the post Abhijit suggests that:

Learning design is not just a science, it is an art. When the team works and generates effective learning designs, they are a result of a deep rooted instructional design philosophy.

Abhijit adds that:

We (Upside Learning) like to look at instructional design in two clear veins, the first is the philosophy of learning design – the beliefs and faith in models that underly everything we do in design. The second is the methodology, the method and process based on these models that allow us to consistently generate good designs for all our clients and their unique situation. The philosophy is what we imbibe, methodology is what we practice.

Abhijit discusses the influence of three instructional design theoreticians in forming this philosophy: Benjamin Bloom, David Merrill, and Robert Mager. Upside draw upon:

I enjoyed the serendipity of receiving Stephen’s link to Abhijit’s post and the relevance of Stephen’s comment in a discussion of best and worst learning experiences that:

The best learning I’ve ever done has been on my own, working through a hard problem, by reading and then writing, either text, or software, or derivations. This is also the hardest learning I’ve done; most of the people I could talk to don’t understand it well enough to explain it, and attempting to work it through leads to more confusion than clarity.

I think there are some great insights here for coaches. I am intrigued by how coaches develop insights into performance and have a sense of long-term progression. I am particularly interested in guided discovery as the foundation of athlete development and realise that in my own coaching this involves an interplay between philosophy and method.

Without the philosophy there is no compass for learning. Abjihit’s post has reminded me that I need to be very clear about the theoretical guides for my work.

It is marvelous that this opportunity arose because of the efforts of a resident of Moncton, New Brunswick to share a daily news feed!

Photo Credit

Bradys Lake, Central Tasmania

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