Performance Analytics and Pedagogy

Some recent posts have encouraged me to think about pedagogy for a new age of performance analytics in sport.

It started with Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel‘s speakerdeck Let them eat cake (first)! (link). Slide 16:

Slide 61 really pushed me to think about how we might share with a different kind of pedagogy:

… and brought back memories of Jo Ito‘s observation “education is what people do to you, learning is what you do to yourself”.

Next up was Karen Gold’s Transforming the First Ten Minutes of Class (link). In her post, she notes:

After attending Penny Kittle’s workshop on 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents last summer, I made the decision to shift my teaching-. Like most teachers, I’ve done a lot of professional development. I’d come away refreshed and excited to try something new, but too often, it was challenging to incorporate a big, new idea into the fast-paced routine of school. Penny’s workshop was different. Something resonated with me that summer morning, and I thought, “I can do this. I WILL do this.”

Karen’s story shares her experiences of encouraging children to read at the start of a lesson. Day 1:

Instead of going over a syllabus or introducing course expectations, the librarians and I gave brief book talks, sharing novels we had read or that we knew were well-received by young adults.

This sounded like Mine’s cake to me. As did Solomon Kingsworth’s discussion of reading comprehension (link), he proposed:

If reading comprehension relies on background knowledge and mental models of the world, then the purpose of our lessons should be to leave the child with more knowledge and mental models.

Solomon talks about the pedagogy that shares the treasure that lies within each book.

This pushed me to think how we share treasure in our domain and epistemic culture in a new information age. And how, as The Economist suggested recently, our first step is “to understand that it is not data that are valuable. It is you” (link).

Three examples from sport appeared as I was pondering these issues:

Laura Seth shared news of a webinar hosted by the FA in January to discuss Performance Analysis & Effective Observations (link).

Mladen Jovanovic published Predicting non-contact hamstring injuries by using training load data and machine learning models (link).

Sam Robertson tweeted a list “of the type of sports science/analytics research I think we need to see more of in 2019”:

  • Optimising the structure, efficiency and communication practices of practitioner teams
  • More club, institution, university and manufacturer collaboration to address ‘whole of sport’ problems
  • Longitudinal skill/learning interventions in team sport settings.
  • New and better methods for coaches to improve communication, rapport & trust with athletes
  • Analysis of raw tracking data.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration,  psychophysics (utility of visuals in reporting and learning), cognitive science.
  • Field application of work undertaken in other disciplines (deep learning & unstructured data), automation and semi-automation of many manual processes currently faced by sports practitioners, and human and machine integration.

Laura, Mladen and Sam are actively engaged in service delivery in high performance sport. As I read their posts I was thinking about how a pedagogy of praxis might engage the next generation of performance analytics.

I am thinking that my pedagogy will move even more strongly to an unmeeting approach with lots of mention of cake.

Photo Credit

Person holding black fruit near cake  (Alex Loup on Unsplash)

Losing and Finding


I read a story of loss this morning.

It had a powerful impact on and in me.

It was not about a medal table or a game, it was about a person.

The story resonates powerfully with conversations I have been having with a group of coaches over the last four years. It is a story about absence, love and family.

The storyteller is Mladen Jovanovic.

Mladen was appointed a strength and conditioning coach at Port Adelaide Football Club for the 2016 season. He moved from Qatar to take up his appointment.

I am immense admirer of his approach to life. This makes me particularly sensitive to his story of loss.

I hope you make time to read his story. It is a powerful antidote to mechanistic and investment in excellence approaches to sport performance.

Mladen is leaving Australia to be with his son in Serbia:

I decided that seeing my son twice a year was not a stellar career I wanted to make and I have decided to put him and his needs first, over any job. I am by far not the greatest father, but at least I am more around him now. Deciding to get back to Serbia, where everyone wants to leave out, was not an easy decision to make, but being around family beats all the drawbacks …

I am delighted for him that he has made this decision.

I do believe family and love define all of us. For too long in high performance sport, we have normalised the immense cost of being involved in the daily training environment.

I am optimistic that Mladen and his son will flourish by being near each other and sharing those wonderful early years of play and exploration.

Mladen’s career will blossom too.

Losing is finding.

Photo Credit

Staircase (Nikos Koutoulas, CC BY-NC 2.0)

#UCSIA15 as a Journey


We are coming to the end of a four-week, online excursion in sport informatics and analytics in #UCSIA15.

Wikipedia suggests an excursion is “a trip by a group of people, usually made for leisure, education, or physical purposes”.  I like the idea that it “is often an adjunct to a longer journey …”.

During the four weeks, 133 people chose to place a pin on our community map hosted by ZeeMaps.


The map reminds me of my early attempts to learn about countries, their capital cities and their flags. My interest in the sociology of knowledge has led me to think about the learning environments of those who placed pins on the maps … and those who did not.

This is where the journey metaphor comes in for me.

I think we have been able to share some substantive knowledge in the four-weeks but I hope too we have started to explore the journey each of us will make in connected communities of practice.

Darrell Cobner, in his thoughtful and thought-provoking reflection on week 4 of the course, quotes Patrick Willer (2015) on social collaboration:

technology can help us build global connections, combine ideas of many different individuals and give those ideas proper time to incubate. This incubation time is necessary for the idea to develop into a concept that one day hope to call a stroke of genius.

I am fascinated by what our community can produce together. One of the highlights for me in the course has been Mladen Jovanovic‘s sharing of his R analysis of shared AFL data:

The possibility that we might work together and support the flourishing of sport informatics and analytics is for me a great example of what Chris Messina described today as a journey in negative space. This space “is the impossible cellophane layer that drapes the known world and is invisible to all but to the most perceptive minds”.

#UCSIA15 is a self-consciously modest excursion in sport informatics and analytics. The content is eclectic and mindful (reverential) of the remarkable expertise that is growing in this interdisciplinary endeavour not represented (but hinted at) in the course.

It is the start of a journey that I believe has enormous potential.

Photo Credit

Wielrenners beklimmen bewaakte overweg (Nationaal Archief, no known copyright restrictions)