08-May-2019 on Users8 minute read
For this week’s featured analyst we travel to the Netherlands and the Dutch Eerste Division. Robin Feenstra has been working as First Team Analyst at FC Dordrecht for the last 2 years, following spells at AZ Alkmaar and ADO Den Haag.
How long have you been working as an analyst and for how much of that time have you been using Nacsport?
I’ve been a soccer analyst for 4 years now and using Nacsport for most of that time. But before joining FC Dordrecht I was at AZ Alkmaar, where they use Sportscode.
So I’m familiar with both systems, which is good because it’s a very subjective area. A lot of analysts prefer Nacsport, but there are other systems out there and each has its own set of fans.
How did you discover Nacsport?
I was looking for a good, cheap and easy system to work with on a Windows computer. After finding Nacsport online, I took the free demo for a test drive and liked what I saw.
Actually, as I already knew the potential of analytical tools in soccer, I was really excited by what I found.
How many games do you analyse in an average week?
Well, every week is different, but it can be as many as 7 games - even more - depending on things like cup runs, upcoming opponents and each team’s match schedule.
What kind of work are you doing with Nacsport? Tell us a little about your workflow.
As the only full-time analyst at FC Dordrecht I’m responsible for all the teams here.
Mondays are always busy or me, because most of the teams will have played over the weekend. While it’s my busiest day of the week, it’s probably my favourite too because I enjoy the work.
Each of our teams have their own templates which vary in complexity. So different games will take me varying amounts of time to analyse, depending on what I’m looking for.
Occasionally, I’ll ‘live tag’ games via AverMedia or use Nacsport Tag&view app on my iPad.
How many people do you work with - as part of your analytical team?
I work alone and present my analysis directly to senior staff including; first team coaches, managers, fitness staff and trainers from the Dordrecht Youth Academy.
I share the results of my work in short presentations or, when teams are traveling or playing away, I’ll share videos online for coaching staff to view when they can.
Do you focus on any particular areas of a game?
I try and take a holistic approach to my analysis, observing as much as I can of the bigger picture. As patterns or sequences become apparent I’ll double-down my focus on areas of specific interest or relevance.
Do you only focus on Dordrecht or is there an element of opposition analysis in your work?
Naturally, a portion of my work is dedicated to analysing our competition, especially for the more senior teams.
But my main focus is always on improving our own performance.
How do you see the role of analyst developing?
Increasingly, I see the position of analyst as crucial to wider team coaching.
However, I also see that every team uses the analyst role for different activities or areas of their preparation.
In my opinion, the ability of tools like Nacsport to help individual players develop and improve will always be my personal priority.
And how do the players react to your work? Have they ‘bought-in’ to the project?
Almost every player I’ve worked with has actively embraced what I’m doing, voluntarily.
Because Dordrecht’s coaching staff are highly engaged with our work, it doesn’t make a lot of difference what individual players think. But I’m genuinely enthused by the eagerness of many to learn.
Once they see the way we’re working at Dordrecht - and the results it yields on the pitch - most players embrace the whole analytical thing.
Do you use any other tools in your analysis or presentations?
Occasionally I’ll use graphics in a video presentation, but I don’t have any special tools. I’ve seen colleagues using KlipDraw tool and it does interest me, but I do not see it as vital.
How about external data providers like InStat or WyScout?
Only Instat, which I use to download XML file timelines of our opponents. But that's only for the first team.
Typically I input that data to Nacsport then highlight a team’s strengths and weaknesses in a short presentation for the players.
Do you use analysis in training?
Not so much in day to day training but definitely in practice games.
Do you work in real time during games?
I am becoming a big fan of real-time analysis and of delivering compact mini reports to players and staff at half time.
Nacsport makes the whole process very quick and easy. My half time reports effectively build themselves and are virtually ready for me to deliver once the whistle blows.
Likewise, immediately after a match I will sit down with coaches to review goals and key moments, before compiling a more detailed report which we present to the players ahead of the next game.
Would you say you are achieving your analytical goals?
Sometimes I think we are and other times I look at the work of analysts at clubs like Atletico de Madrid or Liverpool. Then I realise we have plenty of developing still to do.
One thing I enjoy with Nacsport is the software's ability to grow with me as an analyst. Whenever I have a fresh idea to incorporate into my analysis, I can be sure Nacsport will have the capacity to facilitate it.
And in many cases, I have learned to look for new things or view data in new ways thanks to the software.
So I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ways to keep improving. And because analytics in sport is such a vast, open-ended topic I don’t think it will run out of new material any time soon.
How would you describe your own analytical skills?
As I just said, I don’t think I will ever stop developing as an analyst. In fact, I don’t think anyone working in this area could ever be considered more than a ‘work in progress’.
Right now I’d award myself a 7 out of 10.
What’s the future for sports analytics?
The way I see it, the future is only limited by the people working within the discipline. It’s clear the software is advancing at least as fast - if not faster - than the people using it.
That’s really good news for clubs and players, but it presents a genuine challenge to analysts like myself to raise their game, seize the tools available and use them to reveal ever deeper insights into the teams we work with or play against.
I also think that a more interesting question is how I see the future of sports analytical tools - like Nacsport - which are the engines behind change and will always be several steps ahead of the people using them.