If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen me updating use of possession stats with the hashtag #BFSA.
In this article, we’ll discuss applications of live analysis, how to go about live analysis and the problems and challenges within live analysis.
Live analysis is the process of collecting, interpreting and feeding back information during a sporting event.
Live analysis can be the difference between a win and a loss. It is one of those 1% differences in a game that on occasion can make all the difference. It can influence that tactical move or substitution that needs to occur for a win.
You can split live analysis into two; live video analysis and notation. Most intuitively, you can combine the two.
What you can achieve from live analysis; is creating more informed feedback for coaches or players, motivate players towards a behaviour or do what you usually do post game live to give you more time to add scope to what you currently do.
As part of the analysis process, live analysis can be costly on the input side of the process. With more preparation, equipment, knowledge and cost involved, it is worthwhile to consider what you are trying to achieve before setting out to do live analysis.
I’ve seen live analysis used to motivate in hurling. The team I worked with recorded who and how many people made blocks in each half. This was relayed at half time as to what was achieved. The purpose of this wasn’t because making more hooks or blocks were likely to win, in fact the opposite. If you aren’t making hooks and blocks it is more likely that you have had more possession and/or are winning.
But using a wooden stick to block a small rubber ball (sliotar) and another stick from hitting you requires an attitude and mindset that optimises performance. If the numbers were down and they were losing the players who decided the number themselves became wary of knowing they owed one.


What I did last weekend for the England Samoa game was analysis without video, analysing the use of possession. You can use live analysis more specifically without video, as detailed in this article.
As you can see on my twitter, we have gathered a fair bit of detail on how they used possession, and the most telling of that information was that Samoa kicked the ball poorly and England gave the ball away at the breakdown and through knocking it on.
It didn’t take statistics to tell you that bit of information. What it did do is put a number behind that information so we now know that Samoa kicked the ball poorly 13 times, and England gave the ball away at the breakdown 7 times and from handling errors 8 times.
So was it a waste of time? No. If I was a coach with this information, it gives me far more credibility to tell players with a definite number what the issues has been and creates a better and more real understanding that this needs to change.
Did I discover something? No. It is very difficult to get into that kind of depth live, especially as a one man team.
The other challenge is the accuracy when it is live. You cannot check back without access to video. I admittedly had to change 2 numbers after watching replays as I was typing in what happened on the previous possession – so would have got it wrong in an actual live context. Obviously, you can set up replay by recording into your laptop/capture box but this takes time and becomes very difficult in sports with little down time.
Laura Ostler, Sport Northern Ireland’s Analyst discussed some of the logistical challenges involved in delivering live support in her article on the Irish Performance Analysis Exchange website.
One of the best uses of live analysis, is doing what you were going to do post game but live.
For example, if you clip out the dead time in a match, why not do that live and have that footage ready to go to the players straight after the match. If you like to look at build up to scores in Hockey, Football or Lacrosse; why not clip the scores so you can investigate them deeper later.
You can do this with the software you are using on your computer or you can use a handy app called PocketCoder with an iOS device (Not a paid advertisement), that I was introduced to by Joe Burley, Ealing Trailfinders Analyst. The downside of PocketCoder is that it doesn’t allow you to input labels/descriptors into your event/timestamp but is perfect for producing an .Xml to help find clips. You can of course code live on various softwares other softwares on your desktop too with video coming in live or attached after.
If you read this article from my newsletter (subscribe below for phone/to the right for desktop), you will have seen the notes I had that allowed me to produce a more in depth article on the Ireland game against Fiji.
There are many other uses of live analysis, but this article has hopefully made you consider why and what you’re doing with live analysis.
Thanks for reading this article and please subscribe below on your phone or to the right on your desktop if you found it informative and want more content like this. In December, I’ll be producing a video on how to use animations in keynote/powerpoint as I used for another article on How Eddie Jones might have prepared new players for England’s training camp in Portugal and more to help people get better at using analysis. I will also be releasing a special Christmas competition in my next newsletter!