“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller
Traditionally video sessions are considered to be a coach at the top of the room, dimmed lights, projector on and a coach doing a lot if not all of the talking.
There is a good time to lead sessions like this, particularly when you’re looking for an increase in alignment early on in your season as described further in this article on planning your analysis throughout a season.
The most prominent downside to this method is that there is only a single point of learning, which is the coach telling/showing the players. This as mentioned before, can be considered an upside, if you’re looking for a consistency/alignment in your message delivery. Another downsides to considers that after a while players begin to find the environment repetitive. This is where the tradition of someone falling asleep in video sessions comes from!
So how can you make players more engaged in a video session? How this has evolved, particularly in coaching is that, the coach would begin asking players questions to try get their brain a bit more activated in review sessions, being ready to answer questions that come from the coach.
Coaches and analysts began to ask questions of how can we make players even more engaged in the process? There began Player Led Analysis.
What is Player Led Analysis?
Any method that requires players, more so than coaches to deliver feedback.
An example of this I’ve been involved in, we created 4 groups in our squad, then gave each of them a topic to discuss. e.g; attack, defence, transition into attack and transition into defence.
The groups would then be instructed to send 3 clips to the coaches* and we would have them ready to discuss in the team meeting where they would present them.
*Get them to include clip descriptions as they often send wrong times!
This method gives a lot of control to players. By sacrificing control and alignment, there are much more opportunities for players to learn. Players must watch the game purposefully and come up with areas where the team can improve, then they must collaborate and discuss with team mates their thoughts on it. They then receive different perspectives and understandings from them too. Then they come into an environment where they are confident to present group findings and get asked further questions from their team mates and coaches. Fellow players will then present their findings to them and hear that from a fresh voice.
If you didn’t wish to cede that much control to players, another method I’ve been involved in using is that a coach sits in on a small group meeting – think a focus group. Coach will start discussions, have the video available to reference, and answer any questions the players have. The coach in each case can contribute or stand back as much as they want.
Often in analysis, the end product is not identified as the performance on the pitch. With this method and players coming together to discover solutions, you can be sure they’re more likely to implement those solutions rather than whatever a coach/analysts tells them to do. If you want to read more about learner ownership in feedback, see this article or see it discussed within an applied setting too in this article.
This method forces you as a coach to cede control to your players. So this requires trust in your players to deliver good analysis to each other.
If you’re working in an elite environment, this can be easier to do. If you’re working with developing players, this can be more a more time consuming process as you educate players. Player will become educated quickly with their different points of learning and also you discussing what they present back. This can also be hindered by your shyer players lacking confidence standing up in front of teammates and coaches. For me, this creates this a non-sport specific learning opportunity too.
From my experiences with Player Led Analysis, this can set you up with opportunities to become a bit negative if you disagree with your players or if they speak for too long. With this in mind, I would recommend having a plan in how you correct your players or deal with conflicts going into the team meeting.
Player led analysis can really engage players in learning. It also leads to a multiplication of opportunities and methods to learn for players. It can also lead to players asking coaches better questions more often.
This method is particularly beneficial for teams where the players are highly educated, teams where player development is the priority or when your team becomes comfortable and insights from the pitch can be beneficial for coaches to learn about.
If you’re looking for methods of breaking down your game yourself, or teach your players how to do it themselves. Here’s an article on The Funnel Method. Or if you’d like to see analysis applied to a match, see this article or this one.
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