The evolving science of sports analysis. How every team can improve their performance by looking at the stats.

By Enrico Caballero

26-November-2019 on Interviews

9 minute read

“Performance analysis is crucial to team development at every level of competitive sport”, according to independent analyst Barry Frost. In this interview, we talk with the head of analytics firm PASS about his work with England Rugby League, how he got into the business and what his predictions are for the future.

How long have you been an analyst? What sports have you worked in?

I’ve been an analyst for 7 years, mostly in Rugby League. I started out as an intern at England Rugby League in 2012, while the squad was preparing for the 2013 World Cup. 

 

I’d always had an interest in the power of performance analysis and marveled at the effect data could have on performance. The internship was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the world of analytics.

 

I’ve spent time at clubs including Salford Reds as well as the England setup, working with dozens of experienced coaches along the way.

 

Now I am pleased to say my company PASS Analysis is the sole provider of performance analysis for all 6 teams at England RL, including the EPS, KPS, Women, Academy, Youth and Wheelchair squads. PASS analysis also provides elite-level analysis for semi-professional teams, universities and schools in sports ranging from rugby union to netball and water polo.

 

 

Were you using any analysis software before Nacsport? If so, which one?

Yes, I used SportsCode Elite mostly.

 

When and how did you discover Nacsport?

I had heard of Nacsport through a general interest of all things PA and became aware of several teams making the transition to Nacsport software

 

However, it was Paul Anderson who really sold it to me. He'd been using the software at Huddersfield Giants before joining the England Coaching set up and becoming part of the England Performance Unit. After that, I got in touch with Josh at AnalysisPro and we haven’t looked back since.

 

Why did you choose Nacsport?

As with any business, value for money is essential. However, I quickly understood that Nacsport was far more than a cheaper alternative to other more expensive analytical systems.

 

The Nacsport developers work very closely with clients to develop and improve their product - and they are always on hand to answer questions, assist coaches and set up training sessions for new users. 

 

However, the biggest reason I chose Nacsport was their ability to deliver results. Whilst getting to know the company and the product it was blindingly obvious that our performance analysis goals at England RL would be met using this software.

 

Was Nacsport easy to learn? Did you make use of the AnalysisPro Knowledge Base? And was it helpful?

Yes, it’s very easy to learn. As with anything, it’s a simple case of getting to know the location of items, and layout of the Nacsport software. Once you've spent a little time with it, you can quickly start analysing. 

 

Also, the online tutorials are very helpful if you ever get stuck.

  

 

Tell us about your work during competitive games and in real-time

We use the AP Wireless system to create a network for sharing a live dashboard and clips with all our coaches. And - when required - down to the bench as well. 

 

The Coach Station tool enables our coaches to review the video and clips I am analyzing in real-time. We also use iPads connected to the AP Wireless network and the real-time streaming process in Nacsport to download clips during the game, which is perfect for sharing in the changing room at half time.

 

What tools do you use most often in Nacsport? Do you have a favourite feature or workflow?

The presentation tool has to be my favourite. The ability to make a presentation, add notes, enhance the video with KlipDraw and adjust the length of clips is made incredibly easy and can be done at speed.

 

Also, the My Analysis section allows for easy and quick access to any previously analysed footage.

 

Are you the only analyst or do you work with other analysts in your team?

Currently, we are a team of 3. Myself along with analysts Matty Faulkner and Scott Mogridge.

 

Do you create Nacsport presentation windows yourself, or sit down with coaches to collaborate?

It depends on the team we are working with. The senior team coaches all have their own machines, so we each make our own playlists and present them when needed. With the academy and youth teams, we present from a single presentation.

 

How do you think your team benefits from performance analysis? How do the players react to your work?

I think they benefit hugely. We understand that analysis isn't the only answer to sporting performance, but it is an essential tool that adds another string to the bow. 

 

Our aim is to give our players the very best visual statistical information possible in order to improve our chances of winning. Whether it’s about their own performance, the whole team or their opposition, we see the benefits of providing this essential information.

 

Overall player reaction is very good. Many have begun asking for extra information or another look at their own performance clips, or those of players they are up against in our next game.

 

How many games do you analyse in a usual week?

Unlike working for a regular league club, England RL have international fixtures stacked towards the end of the season, so competitive matches don’t happen every weekend. 

 

However, we use Nacsport to analyse all our training sessions over the year and deliver our feedback to players when we can.

 

Do you use any accompanying tools with your Nacsport analysis and sharing workflows (KlipDraw, Tag&view, Sharimg, others etc.) ?

Yes, we use KlipDraw to augment our videos and highlight key points.

 

Do you import data from any external sources?

Yes, we frequently import data from OPTA.

 

How has the support been?

The support from AnalysisPro and Nacsport has been fantastic. They answer every question I ask, no matter how trivial and make me feel confident that they are on-hand to assist whenever I need them.

 

 

Do you think the use of performance analysis will continue to evolve and spread to different levels in your sport?

Absolutely. Performance analysis is growing as the data becomes more sophisticated. Its importance and influence within almost every sport is essential for teams at every level to develop and improve. 

 

Personally speaking, I feel more and more players and coaches are buying into performance analysis and I think that will continue growing. Eventually, I see it sitting alongside strength and conditioning coaching, in terms of importance. 

 

How do you think performance analysis in your sport will change in the future? Will the focus shift to different areas? Perhaps new technologies will be integrated and embraced?

New technologies are always entering the analytical environment. Whether its automated match filming or predictive statistics from AI, it’s an area that’s developing very quickly.

 

I believe there will always be a need for analytics, and the analyst - coach/player relationship for any breakdown of performance to be truly successful.

 

If you could add one new feature to Nacsport, what would it be?

It would be to make it easier to create and change the buttons template. Also, to make it easier to alter the length of clips when clipping live. 

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