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.


Bandwith Approach to Supporting Learning

Yesterday’s talk by Royce Sadler at the University of Canberra has sent me off on a journey thinking about how learners flourish.

I liked Royce’s reference to texts from the last forty years. The trail for Royce’s talk had started me reflecting on Peter Dowrick’s work on feedforward and Ian Franks and Gary Miller’s (1991) paper Training Coaches to Observe and Remember.

After Royce’s talk I revisited a paper by Kristine Chambers and Joan Vickers (2006) on the Effects of Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning on the Performance of Competitive Swimmers.

The paper reported:

  • A coaching intervention involving Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning (BF-Q) on competitive swim times (cTIME), practice swim times (pTIME), and technique (TECH)
  • With a cohort of competitive youth swimmers over one short-course (25m) swim season.
  • Kristine and Joan concluded that coaching in which feedback was delayed and replaced with questions directed to the athletes contributed to improved technique and subsequent faster race times.
  • Compared to the Control group, the BF-Q group displayed greater gains in TECH during the intervention period and greater improvement in cTIME during the transfer period.

Kristine and Joan discussed two powerful issues arising from their research:

  1. It demonstrates that swimmers were aware of their ability to affect gains in personal athletic development. These results emphasize the importance of self-regulation, personal control, and active learning to efficient and heightened skill acquisition.
  2. Although swimmers described increases in mental work encouraged by their coach, the improvement in communication seemed to override any negative effects of the cognitive load. Improving coach-athlete interaction was one goal of combining questioning with bandwidth feedback. The present study supported the combined use of questioning and bandwidth feedback to enhance learning and maintain effective coach-athlete relationships.

I think this paper is an interesting empirical support for some of the points Royce made in his talk. In arguing for this resonance I am aware that I am attracted to bandwidth ideas.

Some time ago (twenty years in fact) Richard Schmidt discussed the impact frequent augmented feedback can have on learning. I liked his distinction between the performance impact of feedback and longer term learning.

Royce’s presentation, revisiting Kristine and Joan’s paper and returning to Richard’s arguments have encouraged me to work through Franz Marschall, Andreas Bund and Josef Wiemeyer’s (2007) meta-analysis of augmented feedback in the e-Journal Bewegung and Training 1. Their analysis reviews 40 papers published from 1989 to 2000.

Photo Credits

Coaches watching the fight

Coach with the wrestler’s hat

Teaching Learners to Notice: Introduction

The University of Canberra’s Teaching and Learning Centre has hosted a presentation by Professor Royce Sadler on assessment and feedback. The title of his talk was  Reworking the concept of feedback: Teaching learners to notice

The trail for the presentation was:

Teachers in higher education often feel frustrated by the modest impact the feedback they provide on student works seems to have in improving student learning. In this presentation, the dependence on feedback is challenged primarily on the grounds that it involves ‘telling’. For students to become self-sustaining producers of high quality intellectual and professional ‘goods’, they must be progressively equipped to take control of their own learning and performance. The alternative way forward begins with a close examination of the conditions under which students can become better at monitoring the emerging quality of their work during the production process. This requires a reworking of teacher‑learner interactions, which not only challenges the dominant feedback‑based paradigm, but also has better prospects of developing independence in learning.

With my interests in observation and feedforward I was an early sign up for the presentation. The title of Royce’s presentation did remind me of Ian Franks and Gary Miller’s (1991) paper Training Coaches to Observe and Remember.

Photo Credit

Professor Emeritus Royce Sadler