Module 3 of 16
In Progress

What is Performance Analysis & Why Do We Use It?

With the growth and added influence of technology in sport, teams and coaches are using it to gain a competitive advantage. Most professional football clubs around the world now use video and stats to improve the coaching process. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Pre-game preparations & opposition analysis
  • Post-game analysis
  • Long-term player development
  • Player recruitment
  • Analyzing performances has become an essential part of the working week for most clubs and has become a specialist discipline in itself known as Performance Analysis.

On a very basic level, the purposes of analyzing performances objectively and adopting an evidence-based approach to coaching can be explained with two concepts:

Accurate recall from memory post-game is around 30-40%, and the human brain fills the ‘gaps’ in our memory with assumptions. This is known as The Misinformation Effect.

In order to improve or maintain positive performances, a Coach or Player needs to know why they were good (so they can repeat it!) or why they weren’t so good, so they can improve this area.

Here’s two videos from experts in the field of human memory discussing the Misinformation Effect.

Take the time to watch them and think about how this may have an effect on how you remember things post-game.

As we progress through the course modules, we’ll read and hear from different sources about the issues associated with relying on memory or the ‘coaches eye’ to analyze a team or player performance.

Eventually we’ll build a system of Performance Analysis to drive evidence-based decision making to help make more informed decisions.


Here’s how the English Institute of Sport explains Performance Analysis:

“Performance Analysis is a specialist discipline involving systematic observations to enhance performance and improve decision making, primarily delivered through the provision of objective statistical (Data Analysis) and visual feedback (Video Analysis).

Performance Analysis is driven by a sports needs to understand and improve tactics, technique, and movement, achieved through the delivery of real and lapsed time objective feedback. Discipline focuses on enhancing interventions within the coaching process to elicit a performance gain and augment learning.

Essentially informing the athlete and coaches what actually happened as opposed to what they perceive to be happening.

To achieve repeated success, coaches and athletes must know and understand what they have done to make them successful or unsuccessful and make the right decisions at the right time.

However research shows that on average, athletes and coaches can only recall 30% of performance correctly. Performance analysis helps with the remaining 70% by providing the facts of what happened which makes it a vital component for athlete improvement.”

Where possible, we believe it’s important to show professional clubs using the methodology included in APFA courses. As a result we have expert contributors and external media, like articles and videos giving insights into the inner workings of clubs.

Here’s a piece written on Leicester City that details their use of analysis, and the importance they place on it throughout the club:

Inside Leicester City

Dan Altman has worked with Swansea City, D.C. United and consulted with a host of other top-flight professional clubs before creating his online recruitment tool – Smarter Scout. This is what he had to say regarding the human eye vs data:

Derby County’s Head of Analysis explains how the analysis process has evolved in recent years:

At the time of recording the video’s below, The New England Revolution were the first team in Major League Soccer to use data to make more informed decisions about performances and preparing for the opposition. This is now considered common practice throughout professional football.

A simple Google search on data analysis in football will bring up thousands of videos and articles looking at clubs, software providers and success stories. Man City, Liverpool, Brighton and Brentford are generally considered the Premier League leaders in this area.

But what’s commonly accepted from those working at successful clubs in this area, is culture. In recent years Brentford and Brighton are two excellent examples.

Here’s contributor Oliver Gage, who explains how it can impact success:

While this article on Tim Sherwood’s time as Head Coach of Tottenham is now outdated, it does serve as a good case study on how poor performances will eventually catch up with a team over time.

A more proactive approach to measuring performances, and using analysis to impact decision-making, training and player feedback may have seen things go better in the long-term for Sherwood.

This is exactly the process we will be designing throughout this course.

Lucky Tim Sherwood – Tottenham Hotspur


Twenty First Group are a world leading consultancy with clients in many top leagues including the Premier League. This piece from them is a very clear explainer on processes vs outcomes.

The Thing About That Win


Professional Head Coaches Wilmer Cabrera & George Gelnovatch gave us their insights into why they use an evidence based approach to evaluating performances:

Lucy Rushton and Sam Lawson explain their roles and the influence their work has on the coaching process at their club’s.

Oliver Gage also delivered a webinar on the influence of had during his time working for the University of Virginia. This will be featured throughout the course.

Here’s a short piece.

And finally, a players perspective.

Here’s Albert Rusnak, who’s had a very successful career in MLS, discussing the effect Performance Analysis had on his development at Man City, where he was a youth player.

The task for this module is to explain why we think it’s important to adopt an evidence-based approach and how this can influence our behavior.

Please add this to our personal plan, copy the answer below and discuss with others.

Responses

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  1. It’s important to incorporate evidence based approach when evaluating performance as it eliminates the human bias. It provides fact to the film. From just simply watching and observing the film, we naturally create a picture for our self, this is only our own perception and isn’t factual. It can lead to misjudgement of team, individual and opponent performance. Evidence based approach helps to minimise this bias and provides facts to the film.

  2. It’s important to implement an evidence-based approach to evaluating performance because it provides an unbiased perspective about how well a team, a unit or an individual player’s did in a certain aspect of the game. What appears to us in a game mixed with the emotions at that time can disguise the actual facts of what is really going on. So, an evidence-based approach gives a more objective look at performance and allow us to make more rational decisions. Sometimes coaches, including myself, talk to players about their performance based on how we feel they did. This approach can create tension between the player and the coach because the player may feel that the coach is judging him. Whereas if can have some stats to show the player, it provides specific direction and less emotional interaction, which may help in reducing interpersonal problems.

  3. An evidence based approach is important because it can remove the emotion, subjectivity, bias, or passion away from the sport in our review. A humans we naturally do not remember all events in their correct order and can naturally tie a bias in our post game review. An evidence based approach allows to look at the game objectively through data and video.

    I also believe an evidence based approach is important to streamlining our style of play and “grading” our individual or team performances based on KPIs. There are many styles of football and games can be played in a variety of ways, but in order to build sustained results I think it is very important to have a variety of KPIs that can support/objectively grade our performance based on our style of play. This way we can always come back to these key points when debriefing a match, and then present the data to players in a presentable and relatable manner.

  4. Owing to the misinformation effect and the presence of emotions during a match, it is easy to perceive the events and outcome of a game subjectively. However, numbers do not lie. An evidence-based approach is crucial in gaining a deeper and a more objective understanding of what happened in a particular game and more importantly, why certain events occurred. Post-game analysis using an evidence-based approach can give us a detailed understanding on key tactical actions that worked well and/or could be improved upon, regardless of the outcome of a game. Moreover, it can also be focused on individual player performances, helping them improve their decision-making and influence on team performances.

  5. It is important to adopt and evidence-based approach because this enables observations to also be done objectively rather than solely subjectively. Our memory is prone to being misinformed, altered based on our emotions, and filling in blanks in a memories with recollections that did not occur in actuality.

    By contrast, if we use an evidence-based approach, we can use metrics to gain objective and quantifiable information about performances, in which this can both give us a better account of what occurred during a match and help us modify the way that we train and play going forward.

  6. Adopting an evidence-based approach in football performance analysis is crucial for several reasons, as it provides a foundation for informed decision-making and influences behavior in the following ways:

    1. Informed Decision-Making:
    – An evidence-based approach relies on data and objective analysis rather than subjective opinions. This allows coaches, analysts, and players to make decisions based on factual information derived from performance metrics, reducing the reliance on intuition alone.

    2. Precision and Accuracy:
    – Utilizing data-driven evidence ensures a higher degree of precision and accuracy in performance analysis. Objective measurements and statistics provide a clear and reliable picture of player and team performance, enabling more targeted interventions and improvements.

    3. Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses:
    – Evidence-based analysis allows for a comprehensive identification of both strengths and weaknesses. By objectively assessing performance metrics, teams can capitalize on their strengths and address areas that need improvement, fostering a more balanced and strategic approach to training and play.

    4. Player Development and Optimization:
    – Adopting an evidence-based approach supports individual player development. Coaches can tailor training programs to address specific needs identified through performance analysis, optimizing each player’s potential and contributing to overall team success.

    5. Strategic Planning:
    – Evidence-based insights contribute to strategic planning both in terms of individual matches and long-term team development. Understanding performance trends and patterns enables coaches to develop effective game strategies and adapt tactics based on the strengths and weaknesses of opponents.

    6. Enhanced Communication:
    – Objective evidence serves as a common language for communication among coaching staff, analysts, and players. It facilitates clear and effective communication about performance expectations, areas for improvement, and overall team goals, fostering a collaborative and cohesive team environment.

    7. Motivation and Accountability:
    – Data-driven evidence creates a basis for setting measurable goals and expectations. Players can see tangible evidence of their performance, fostering motivation. Additionally, it establishes a system of accountability, as performance metrics provide a transparent and objective evaluation of individual and team contributions.

    8. Continuous Improvement:
    – An evidence-based approach encourages a culture of continuous improvement. Regularly analyzing performance metrics allows teams to adapt strategies, training programs, and game plans based on evolving circumstances and challenges, promoting resilience and adaptability.

    9. Enhanced Problem-Solving:
    – Objective evidence enhances problem-solving capabilities. When challenges arise, coaches and analysts can turn to performance data to identify root causes, explore potential solutions, and implement targeted interventions to address specific issues affecting performance.

    10. Risk Mitigation:
    – Evidence-based decision-making minimizes the risk of relying on anecdotal information or assumptions. It reduces the likelihood of making decisions based on biases or incomplete information, contributing to more effective risk mitigation in player management and strategic planning.

    In summary, adopting an evidence-based approach in football performance analysis is essential for making informed decisions, optimizing player and team performance, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. By relying on objective data and analysis, teams can develop more precise strategies, enhance communication, and create a foundation for success on and off the field.

  7. the evidence will point us in the direction we need to go in to help our team and players improve. because we only remember 30% or so of what happened in the game, having the evidence to back up if we are correct or not will help move us in the direction we need to.
    the evidence will guide us in our training and planning for the teams success

  8. Adopting an evidence-based approach will help the team of analysts gain the trust of coaches and players. Since the data suggest that the human eye and mind will only recall 20–30% of the game, the rest will be filled by our mind’s imagination, and that imagination will come from what we believe.

    A lot of the time, managers and players can be rigid in what they think, and they will say that I recall a certain player doing this action or that they successfully dribbled all the time. All that information might be correct, or it might be wrong. Rather than arguing, we can rely on an evidence-based approach. Watching a game again for post-match analysis and adding the KPIs to the mix can help us identify if all those assumptions were correct or not.

    Having a set of KPIs that the club believes in solves the huge problem of simply relying on luck or any particular player to win the match. By focusing on those KPIs after every match, we can see if we are improving day by day, and with the combined evidence of video and data, it can have a huge impact on the coaching team and players to incorporate those findings into the next game’s preparation. The more consistent you are, the better you will get and the less reliant you will be on luck.

    An evidence-based approach will not only help in gaining trust, but will also encourage all the players and staff to get involved in it once they see a positive result. For example, if a player does not believe that every time he tries to dribble with his right foot and cut inside on the left side to take a shot, he loses the ball, and on the other hand, every time he dribbles with his left inside the penalty area and then cuts back to cross with his right, it produces a goal-scoring chance for the team, we can back our claim with data and also with gathering videos from different occasions. This doesn’t mean that he should never dribble with his right, but a player should know his strong point so that he can make a better choice. This is where evidence-based analysis can be helpful.

  9. Studies show that coaches’ recall 30%-40% of live games with the rest being filled in by assumptions and often influenced by emotions. Having the ability to review the video and evaluate objective data from each game is extremely beneficial as it allows us to understand what we did well as a team/individually, and what areas we can improve. This allows us to make more justified, consistent, and informed decisions combining subjective and objective reasoning which both have value when used appropriately.

    Adopting an evidence-based approach can provide objectivity to our evaluation process and give us consistency in certain things we demand from our team tactically, technically or physically using video and bespoke KPIs (data). From a coach’s perspective we can evaluate our team more precisely and use these conclusions to improve our feedback to players and inform our training process going forward. This can help us generate buy-in to what we demand from the players as it allows us to justify our approach more convincingly by being objective with the use of video and data.

    Exposing this to the players can be important for their own learning and development and can improve their understanding of the game helping them recognise what they did well, what they can improve, and why.

  10. Adopting an evidence-based approach is key to success in football. By understanding how a game plan needs to be achieved, it allows you to set performance targets for the team and individuals and see if they are being met.
    By creating a match plan pre-game, you can deceiver what is needed to achieve the game plan set out in order to understand what results in success in the planned game. It allows you to prepare for the opposition you are about to face, how you can adapt your key principles around the opposition and give our players an idea on what they are going to face in the next game.
    By being able to actively track and manipulate the plan during the game you can have an understanding on how to improve during a match if someone is not doing their duties properly and following the game plan or if the game plan needs to be changed to accommodate what is happening on the field. It also allows you to show objective feedback at half time instead of the heated opinions in the moment of a tense dressing room.
    Post-match allows you to understand the performance rather than the outcome. This is key to understanding if a match plan was successful and why. If the game was lost by targets pre-game was set and carried out well then is there a need to change due to the result. I your team created multiple high-quality chances and failed to score while the opposition scored from one shot from 30 yards out, is there a need to change the plan or was it just down to luck.

  11. Post-match performance analysis transforms the subjective vision of a live match into an objective post-match outlook, and shows coaches and players the reality of a match beyond the pure result.
    In other words, in this context, an evidence-based approach transcribes a reality that goes beyond opinion and feelings, and provides a complete vision of the match that extends beyond what the brain is willing or able to retain.

    The use of an evidence-based approach, integrated into a club culture via pre-game, post-game, half-time and training analyses, should rationalize the work of players and the team, and provide the keys to rapid performance improvement by reducing the uncertainty of performance.

    It can also give players a clearer vision of their strengths and weaknesses, beyond the sometimes distorted view they may have of their own performance.

  12. Performance analysis provides a bigger picture in understanding what happened throughout the entire game. We as coaches (as said previously in the video) remember about 20% – 30% of the live game we just viewed. Having stats, video moments on the game helps to give feedback on tactics, team structure and individual play. Most importantly it also shows how the opponents played against our system (pros and cons per se). Therefore providing data, information, and key performance indicators during these games can provide more insight on what need to be better as a team. Also, individual players will get the necessary feedback on how to improve at their position as they progress through the season. All these elements are vital to the modern game of soccer.

  13. Performance analysis essentially involves using the tools at your disposal to gather evidence and data, which in turn informs athletes and coaches about their teams’ or individual performances throughout the season. Performance analysis can examine data in reference to tactics, technical application, and movement. This is of great importance to incorporate into all professional models because research has shown that performers (coaches and athletes) can accurately recall only about 30-40% of the events that occurred in a match. Therefore, it is important that we not solely rely on our eyes but also consider the story that the data is conveying. We should aim to establish a connection between both aspects as we apply our observations and insights from past performances to our training and future matches. With this knowledge, we can facilitate the development of everyone involved, ultimately leading to an improvement in the overall on-field product.

  14. It is important to adopt an evidence-based approach because the objective data does not lie. It is a way to compile datasets on particular actions within a game that are captured the same way every time. The data will give a consistent explanation of the same sequence of events, or actions, game after game so there can be true comparisons drawn between the effectiveness the team or players were at performing said actions from game to game. It is also a great teaching tool for coaches to get a snapshot of predetermined benchmark of performance across to the players in a quick amount of time that cuts right to the point of success or improvement needed.

  15. Performance analysis sifts through the information of a game. Due to human retainment being below 30% accurate, it is critical for a club to lean on statistic and video analysis. This evidence-based approach makes the difference between objective and subjective reason. Success in football seemingly happens by taking advantage of analyzing performances in the objective way.

    An evidence based approach removes emotion from moments and lets us reflect on the game as a whole, rather then just on what we remember and its emotional influences at the time.
    This can influence how we measure success/failure, as well as create short/med/long term KPI’s to build the team going forward.

  16. Facts don’t lie so it’s much easier to present feedback if it’s evidence based as opposed to just an opinion from 1 person’s view as everyone sees and remembers different things. This can allow for a less reactive response from a coach to be able to process the data and also help to develop players as they can trust the data you are providing them with.

  17. Game performance analysis is essential for clubs. Humans can only retain about 30% of the information, so relying on stats and video analysis becomes crucial. This approach helps differentiate between objective and subjective reasoning, which is vital for success in football. By analysing performances objectively, teams can make the most out of their opportunities and improve their chances of winning.

  18. Performance analysis sifts through the information of a game. Due to human retainment being below 30% accurate, it is critical for a club to lean on statistic and video analysis. This evidence-based approach makes the difference between objective and subjective reason. Success in football seemingly happens by taking advantage of analyzing performances in the objective way.

  19. Performance analysis, both through data & video is vital. Many times I have found that when I have checked the stats for a game – particularly xG score & timeline – that things didn’t play out quite how I thought in terms of chances. However, going back to the video is still so key to see what actually happened. How were the chances made, were there a lot of promising attacks breaking down before the shot, etc?These conclusions can then be used by the coaching staff and by players in order to improve process.

  20. Memories can be “manipulated” in the way people want them to be. And memory is subjective and tends to decay over time.
    Evidence-based approaches, such as vedio and data, are objective and can be studied repeatedly. Over time, there is always an increase in useful video and data.

  21. I didn’t really have an idea about how much misinformation we can create as we only remember 20-40% of a game. I can now really see how important it is to use data and analysis to either back up or disprove our memories about the game.

    I would say the eye test is important, but without having data or information to back up the eye test we are only looking at a blurry picture that could have details omitted or included that were not there to begin with.

    Evidence based analysis is important to provide coaches and players with the extra context and information they may be missing or misremembering to paint an accurate picture of the game, team or players performance. If we only use the eye test we may misrepresent facts and have a chance to make wrong decisions over the long term. I think it is also important to take the emotional reactions away from the performance.

  22. COACH CAN HAVE DATA WITHOUT INFORMATION BUT HE CAN’T HAVE INFORMATION WITHOUT DATA . BY USING AN EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACH COACHING STAFF CAN HAVE BETTER COMMUNICATION AND CLEAR DECISIONS ON HOW WE CAN SUPPORT AND PROGRESS WITH OUR GAME MODEL AND STYLE OF PLAY
    REMOVE EMOTIONAL DECISIONS AND HAVE CLEAR DATA TO BOTH SUPPORT AND CRITIQUE BOTH INDIVIDUALS AND TEAMS.
    W-EDWARDS DEMING SAYS:
    “WITHOUT DATA YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER PERSON WITH AN OPINION”

  23. An evidence-based approach allows for you to look objectively at a match where emotion may initially cloud opinions. For example, you may play well most of the game and concede a late penalty, which would potentially leave you with a negative outlook on the game. Taking an evidence based approach means you can look at this situation and perhaps take in the wider picture of the 90 minutes rather than the initial disappointment. It also allows you to keep track of performances throughout the season, and you can therefore measure whether the team is hitting particular KPI’s or not.

  24. An evidence based approach removes emotion from moments and lets us reflect on the game as a whole, rather then just on what we remember and its emotional influences at the time.

    This can influence how we measure success/failure, as well as create short/med/long term KPI’s to build the team going forward.

  25. Since the mind does not retain more than 20-30% of the facts of the game during the live development of the match, it is critical and decisive to get clear and precise answers to the questions about what we did well and what we could do better. What did the team do well and as planned, in terms of tactics, and the footballers, in tactics, technique and decision-making.

  26. Using an evidence based approach helps provide data to support what is being reflected in the game/training environment. This can help remove emotional decisions when reflecting on the moments we’re looking to reflect on. Rather than relaying information on what we think may have happened we can use this approach to support our messages/ideas through data.

  27. It’s important to adopt an evidence based approach because it gives coaches players and players an objective view on performance. We can then make adjustments and improvements based on the video rather just relying on a subjective approach of the coaches memory that can only recall 30-40% of a game.

    The use of data and video can take away the emotion and opinions that can influence players/coaches after a game. It will help support the game model and make more objective decisions on plans for the team and individual moving forwards

  28. Coaches and staff often rely on their in game observations to criticize, praise and plan for future games. Whilst some coaches can do this more accurately than others, no one can do it to the level that raw data and video analysis can.
    By analalyzing performances through tangible metrics and having clear data to both support and critique both individuals and teams, coaching staff can be objectively better prepared when they make plans to move forward and plan for the future.

  29. Using data and evidence allows players and coaches to quantify key moments/KPI that will influence a player and teams success. This also allows for more of an accurate recall on match events which leads to a higher retention and accuracy of the match. In this type of environment it also helps to remove emotions and opinions when discussing the match and allows that conversation and teaching moment to be lead by facts and data.

  30. An evidence based approach helps create a more objective view of, and analysis of the game, in which we can then discuss, assess, and look to improve upon. By using an evidence based approach we can gain better insight and information into the strengths and weaknesses of our team and our opponents, and we can then use this information to continue to build upon our strengths and look to take advantage of opponents weaknesses.

    However, after collecting and using an evidence based approach it is still important how we interpret that evidence and use it to our benefit. I find it very interesting that accurate recall from memory post-game is only around 30-40%! The thought that the human brain fills the ‘gaps’ in our memory with assumptions, the “Misinformation Effect”, I think is important and something we must keep in mind as we use our objective evidence based information and mix it in with our subjective opinion of how we want to and how we maybe should implement our style of play.

  31. I thought the statistics on accurate memory recall from post-game (30-40% accuracy), were eye-opening, but not surprising. Matches are often dictated by a few significant moments, which stick in our heads after the game and can shade our perceptions of how the game went and how certain players performed. I think this information makes it clear why we need an evidence-based approach to coaching and football evaluation: the human brain can only account for a small fraction of what happens on the pitch. We need an objective to way to ”fill in the gaps,” or else our minds will do it for us, often unknowingly sacrificing accurate recall in order to create a cohesive narrative.

    I especially enjoyed a quote from Dan Altman: “But the idea here is not to create a winner-takes-all competition between analytics and human perception. A better way to frame the decision process is as an exercise in collective learning. We compare different interpretations of reality and try to figure out why discrepancies exist. Together we find a deeper understanding of both the question and the answer.” I thought Altman’s perspective on the role of analytics in football decision-making was very well thought-out. Analytics doesn’t always give us the “true” story of what happened on the pitch. It is not the indisputable final say on what went well and what went wrong. Analytics simply provides another perspective, one that can be more complete and less subjective than the perception gained from merely watching a match. And the analytical perspective can be used to confirm our current perceptions or to challenge them entirely. Either way, analytics is an invaluable part of the learning process.

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