”All ideas grow out of other ideas” – Anish Kapoor
Although not a revolutionary idea in planning your analysis for the long term, it is something that is scarcely written about to date.
Cross discipline amalgamation is a great way of developing new theories and adapting them across to your own discipline. Given a large percentage of people in analysis have a sports science degree or related and that the strength and conditioning industry in many ways was the analysis of 20 years ago, it makes a lot of sense to adapt what they do and apply it to what we do in analysis.
I have adapted Mayveyev’s theory of sports training periodisation. Matveyev’s theory was to plan to do more generic and foundational work first and then increase the specificity with time. Below is Metveyev’s theory and you can read more about it here.
Metveyev’s Periodisation of Strength and Conditioning
Adapted for Sports Analysis by BF Sports Analysis
By adapting Metveyev’s theory to sports analysis, it comparably works in increasing specificity with time.
To start with, well applied long term research will have a more enduring benefit that is far more difficult for opponents to replicate than week to week analysis. An example of longer term research would be our projects such as The Lineout Project with Connacht Forward’s Coach Dewald Senekal, where we examined every lineout in the 2020 and 2021 6 Nations. Reflecting and improving your own processes will enhance your ability to use analysis or speed up your process the following season, each and every week.
After a general sport focus, focusing on your own team becomes a logical step. You will get a return in each and every match by improving role clarity for players, finding and correcting recurring system/technique/decision making errors in training or pre-season and early season matches. BF Sports Analysis for example helps in this process by producing BFSA Playbooks (Dewald Senekal Case Study | Terenure College RFC Case Study).
When the season starts, your problems will likely be easy to observe and spot with your eyes and in theory, you should be able to correct lots of things quickly. To help prioritise those huge number of things you want to improve, you can use some basic observation enhancing analysis techniques such as The Listing Method.
After a few games, using your observation skills will experience what is known as the law of diminishing returns and you will have to look deeper to find out what would be the most effective place you can utilise your training time and energy. This is when BF Sports Analysis would produce a block report for client. We offer this both for every week clients and also can undertake a project to do them all at once.
After a period of time of concentrating on your limitations as a team, you will again see a law of diminishing returns and that focusing on your team as a whole will begin producing less return from your work and that your limitations to improved performance are more limited by individuals. As a rule of thumb, the lower the level of rugby you are playing, the longer it takes to get to that stage.
When your players skills or decision making become the limitation, this is then the best time to refocus your analysis on delivering individual feedback rather than re-emphasising the team. Players love individual feedback too.
In an individual context, you can similarly focus your attention on the long term by focusing on player that will be in you team for a longer period of time. Ben Darwin also noted on the Pacey Performance Podcast, younger players, who likely will be around longer, are more adaptable and willing to change, hence you are likely to have a bigger impact working with them.
With looking after individuals, it’s a possibility that they could get injured and then for those games they won’t have an effect with your analysis and is hence the downside of increasing specificity which continues along the scale. When you do analysis on the opposition, it’s maximum effect will be against that opposition and that is a total of probably very few games of your season.
This is not to take away from doing opposition analysis or that lessons learned against one opposition can’t be applied again against another but definitely less so.
As well with opposition analysis, it is easier/more efficient to do once there is more data/videos available later in the season. BF Sports Analysis collects and maintains databases for clients to allow for easier opposition analysis as well as custom opposition analysis projects.
Coach and Athlete Led Analysis
Adapting to a lot of literature on coaching, management and leadership, it’s important to consider how coach/analyst led the analysis should be and how analysts/coaches should adapt through time. The thought process here was that as you introduce new elements of what you analyse to players, you should probably have this as more coach led and then allow players to take larger ownership as they increase in understanding of what is useful information.
Increased coach leading at the start of season makes sense to ensure alignment between the group in terms of style of play or decision making considerations. For example, at the start of the season one centre might like to get lots of linespeed and make big hits on their inside shoulder and another one prefers to drift more, a winger will then have to adjust to the 2 centres preferences which may be difficult in a new group. A more aligned defensive approach so the 2 centres defend the same at the start of the season would likely be wise, but as the group becomes more familiar with each other, the centres can build rapport with the wingers and have clearer consistency communication on when and why they might decide to do one or the other defensive decisions.
I hope this article helped give you as an analyst or coach some ideas on how to improve how you use analysis.
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