I saw this alert five days ago

I went to Charlie’s blog post on the Visual Performance Analysis site and tried to comment on a delightful, challenging post. At that time, the site thought I was a Spambot. I am not but I missed the opportunity to support and reply to Charlie immediately.

I applaud Charlie’s willingness to address the accreditation issues head on.

In the intervening time Jason Lear and Rob Carroll have responded in detail. My post is a contribution to the discussion.

I am really pleased Charlie has shared the findings of his investigation into performance analysis. His post notes that respondents to his questionnaire about the role of performance analyst considered “being accredited was ranked the least important personal attribute required for the role”.

Charlie suggests that we need accreditation “to be relevant and current to meet the expectations of the growing number of analysts and potentially provide a broader remit”. He cites the example of the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA). This Association aims to:

  • Establish and maintain high professional standards for UK Strength and Conditioning Practitioners;
  • Promote and disseminate good practice, knowledge and research appropriate to strength and conditioning practitioners;
  • Facilitate communication among UKSCA members;
  • Represent the interests of the membership of the UKSCA.

The UKSA website indicates that there are 2700 members of the Association and 590 accredited members. I learned that “The UKSCA is a not-for-profit, limited by guarantee company and is managed by a voluntary Board of Directors, elected from and by the Accredited membership”.

I agree with Charlie (and Jason’s detailed response) that we must value, encourage and support continuing professional development (CPD). My hope has always been that the open sharing of CPD will enrich our performance analysis community of practice. I think these experiences can become the progressive learning programs Jason envisages that “will ensure the industry and members see accreditation as a career driver and goal setter and not just a retrospective acknowledger”.

Charlie concludes his post with these observations:

I feel something needs to be done to safeguard our industry, while helping new analysts build a career. I believe this has to come partly through a functioning and structurally relevant accreditation and CPD programme. ISPAS could form part of the bigger picture of the industry, focussing on the elements it has historically delivered well i.e. facilitating academic conferences and publishing scientific proceedings, but is there potential for an alternative body to offer CPD/accreditation components that are crucial for the continued maturation of the industry?

Do we need accreditation?


Rob Carroll has written a thoughtful post in reply to Charlie. Rob suggests “Considering how low employers are valuing accreditation and the effort required to establish a credible awarding body it seems unlikely that the situation will change any time soon. If employers are not valuing it – there is little incentive for people to get accredited” (my emphasis). Later, Rob adds “Accreditation would bring some benefits – not least if it forced people to undertake continuous professional development, but I’m not sure accreditation on it’s own solves many problems – not in the long-term anyway” (my emphasis).

Rob’s concluding points about a governance model for accreditation are well made. We do need industry wide inclusion if we are to have a gold standard for accreditation. This raises fundamental questions about constitutions, fees, accountability and sustainability.

I have been away from BASES for twelve years. I have read the Accreditation Guidelines (version 5, August 2013) and have noted the attention to detail in these guidelines (and for High Performance Sport Accreditation) including a very clear statement about competencies. I understand too the need for an unequivocal code of conduct.

There has been considerable discussion about accreditation of sport scientists in Australia in the last two years. In his discussion of the relevance of accreditation, Kevin Thompson points out:

Accreditation has to be worth possessing if it is to be of any value to a practitioner and a stipulation by an employer provides that value. Similarly an accreditation has to be of value to the industry it serves

I take this reciprocity between the practitioner and employer to be the key to an answer to the question about whether we need accreditation for performance analysis.

Small, Invitational, Transparent … and Compelling

Fifty More Shocks

Charlie, Jason, Rob and many others of late have helped me think about a dynamic accreditation system for performance analysis. I understand that the International Society of Performance Analysis of Sport (ISPAS) has a long standing interest and commitment to accreditation.

I have been wondering how a new approach to accreditation might extend the ISPAS reach in an industry that is now so diverse that many of the skills that are used are so specialist that they are developing their own practice in applied settings.

I am thinking that this new approach can be modest and small (to address Rob’s governance issues). We can use our shared expertise to promote a code of conduct and to be open about our practice. Using social media will give the group an extended reach and opportunities to share and connect through CPD or new practice.

By being open about what we do we could create a space that is sufficiently attractive to set up compelling reasons to participate and engage.

I envisage this space not to be about levels but to be about experience. We would have a knowledge network that is particularly adaptable to new forms of communicating and sharing.

If a small number of people can consent to a shared understanding of what it is to be accredited then the ripple effect could be significant.

In an era of open badges for accreditation we will be able to use our imagination for how we are and can be.

A Vinyl Record?


So far, Charlie’s post has received two comments (mine would have been the third) and has generated a number of Twitter exchanges.

Our reach is small. Clarence Fisher helped me think about this scale today when he posted about Blogs are the Vinyl records of the Internet. He quotes a Washington Post observation:

Just as vinyl records are still listened to, and considered better than the digital format, they exist without having a real impact on the music industry. In effect, blogs are the vinyl records of the Internet.

I think we have a most remarkable industry. I was knocking on sport organisations’ doors from the mid-1980s hoping to persuade them that performance analysis was the future. In the 1990s I tried (with Mike Hughes) to persuade BASS and BASES that accreditation for notational performance analysis was innovative.

Now we have a most wonderfully diverse group of performance analysts who might like to share experience and practice … and without too much pressure consider an accreditation process that will evolve to include experience, expertise and continuing professional development.

It will be a space for sharing, receiving and giving. Our future is social.

Photo Credits

Rainbow Guard (Bui Linh Ngan, CC BY 2.0)

Fifty More Shocks (Jeremy Brooks, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Vinyl World (Tim, CC BY 2.0)


Authentic Insights



Peter Berger, in his invitation to sociology (1963), wrote about “the curiosity that grips any sociologist in front of a closed door behind which there are human voices”. I have been fascinated by learning about these voices in education and in sport.

In pre-Internet days, I enjoyed reading about the lives (voices) of teachers and pupils in books like Philip Jackson’s Life in Classrooms and Ivor Goodson’s Studying Teachers’ Lives. Ivor’s advocacy and use of life history methods struck a strong chord with me and informed my ethnographic approach to the study of physical education in schools.

This story about Anush and basketball fever is an example of where Ivor, and subsequently John van Maanen, took me.

With the Internet, we have ever-increasing opportunities to learn about and share voices. I believe strongly that the thick description available to us through multi-media content raises important issues about and opportunities for authentic learning.

When we had initial discussions (in 2000) about the format of the proposed International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, one of my suggestions was to enable agnostic content (text, audio, video, data) to be shared and to do so as an open educational resource in any language.

If I had the same conversation today, I would support strongly the produsage of performance analysis accounts from the diverse social media available to us. I would be mindful of the conventions in using these resources. In October this year, Chelsea Lee wrote:

Thanks to developments in technology and feedback from our users, the APA Style team has updated the formats for citing social media, including content from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. These guidelines are the same as you’ll find in our APA Style Guide to Electronic References, Sixth Edition (available in PDF and Kindle formats).

The availability of such diverse sources is offering remarkable opportunities to develop digital literacies and dynamic sharing of content that go beyond traditional journal formats.

I do feel very strongly that the digital age has transformed the narrative of scholarly writing.

The blossoming field of performance analysis in sport can make a significant contribution to this transformation. I discussed the contribution blogging might make to our understanding in this post.

I found two excellent examples (Charlie and Adam) of this approach this week. They relate directly to the occupational culture of a performance analyst.


Josh Bryan introduces Charlie Barwis in a Visual Performance Analysis blog post.

Charlie is a graduate of Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC). His present role is Performance Analysis intern at Millfield School.

Josh’s blog post shares a 41 minute 22 seconds YouTube video recording of his interview with Charlie.


If I was asked on an undergraduate or postgraduate course to discuss what it is performance analysts do, I would hope to use Charlie as an example of participation in an exciting career pathway.

APA allows me to cite the video using the author’s screen name:

AnalysisForAll. (2013, December 5). Performance Analysis at Millfield School [Video file]. Retrieved from

Josh’s blog post is:

Bryan, J. (2013, December 5). Charlie Barwis Video Interview [Blog post]. Retrieved from

As a student produser, I would treat these secondary sources with the same rigour as if I were reading a journal paper or a book chapter. Their digital provenance should enable me to make informed decisions about their authenticity.


Adam Cullinane

Adam Cullinane is the Performance Analysis Officer at Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC). Adam has written a detailed, insightful blog post about changes in Performance Analysis in the last five years.

The APA reference for his post is:

Cullinane, A. (2013, November 22). “What has changed in Performance Analysis over the last 5 years?” [Blog post]. Retrieved from

I do think Adam’s post is a must-read for anyone involved in or thinking about becoming involved in performance analysis.

I am mindful that Adam’s post appears in the Visual Performance Analysis blog. As a reader I am mindful that overreliance on one source is an issue to be addressed through personal judgement. However, I do think this is the same kind of vigilance i would have if I was citing a number of papers from one journal.

As part of my reflection on the authenticity of the post, I might take note of open peer response to the paper. APA gives me the opportunity to cite Twitter.

This is a reference for a tweet that provides information about visits to Adam’s post:

VisualPA. (2013, December 3). Not bad statistics for your blog @adam_cullinane !! [Twitter post]. Retrieved from

The tweet is:


Authentic Resources

My aim in writing this post is to support those authors who are keen to transform the public and scholarly narratives about performance analysis in sport.

I have been through the 1980s discussions of the validity of qualitative research. I am hopeful that just as qualitative research is acknowledge as a valid and reliable approach to gathering and telling stories, the emerging digital literacies (with all the required safeguards) will be seen as acceptable too … in a much shorter time frame.

I do hope that if there are any inaccuracies in this post they will be pointed out to me. This seems an essential characteristic of open publishing … an interested (supportive or antithetical) readership becomes co-authors.

If we use established rules of evidence, the rich digital assets available to us become vibrant, authentic resources. We can do this with our close or loose connections to each other.

Photo Credit

The Art of WordPress (mkhmarketing, CC BY 2.0)