How to Analyse a Football Match

By Duncan Ritchie

06-June-2022 on Tips

22 minute read

To analyse a football match correctly, you must have a solid methodology. Whether you work with specific software or not, the use of video is essential. In this blog, we’re going to detail how to develop a methodology which will allow you to get the most out of your analysis work.

Index

 

Phase 1. Define Your Needs Before Starting an Analysis

          Ideas to Get You Started

 

Phase 2. Use Your Analytical Intuition

 

Phase 3. Create a List of Concepts You Need to Analyse

          Is It Worth Using Specialist Software?

 

Phase 4. Obtaining the Video You’re Going to Analyze

          You Don’t Film: Advantages and Disadvantages

          You Film: Advantages and Disadvantages

 

Phase 5. Video Review and Clip Selection

          How Many Times Should a Match Be Watched to Analyse It Correctly?

 

Phase 6. The Real Analysis: Filtering and Selecting Clips

 

Phase 7. How to Prepare an Efficient Presentation

          Improve Visual Communication with Drawings

          Organising the Presentation

          Length of Presentation

          The Advantages of Using Specialised Video Analysis Software

 

 

Let’s kick off by giving you our opinion on the matter. We believe that using software that is designed specifically for sports video analysis is a complete no-brainer. There are countless reasons for this, most of which you’ll only recognise if you’ve actually used this type of software. All we’ll say for the moment is that you’ll save a lot of time and be able to extract much more quality analysis data than with any non-specialised software.

 

If you’ve never used specific video analysis software and are not aware of the benefits, it might be a good idea to try it now. Click on the banner below for a free 30-day Nacsport trial.

 

If you are a complete video analysis novice, Nacsport Basic and Basic+ are great places to start.

Many analysts still use more “traditional” methods for completing their analysis, such as iMovie, Media Maker, Premiere, et al, which are still quite useful in their own way. The content of this article is still relevant to people analysing using these methods. The big difference is in the amount of time needed to complete the work.

 

Please note: if you’re reading this and your sport is not football, don’t click off the page just yet. The information we’re about to tell you is adaptable to any sport. Just change the footballing terms to those from your own sport.

 

 

Phase 1. Define Your Needs Before Starting an Analysis

 

Before fully immersing yourself in the analysis of a match, it’s important to define the parameters of the game that you want to analyse. There are many area which can be analysed and, if you don’t have a list of priorities, it’s very easy to lose your focus and, at the end of the day, waste a lot of time on things that are irrelevant to you.

 

And believe us, there’s nothing more frustrating than devoting hours and hours to an analysis job which gives you little to no insights into the game.

 

If you’re the coach, this is the easiest part. You probably already have a good idea of what you want to analyse and where you want your team to improve. If you’re a coaching assistant or analyst, you should meet with the full coaching staff to define the aspects that need to be analysed.

 

Although some of these may seem obvious, you need to define:

 

•    Whose performance you are going to analyse, your own team, the opposition, or both.
•    Phases of the game or specific moments you want to analyse.
•    Which set pieces are important.
•    If you will pay special attention to any specific players.
•    The philosophy of the coaching staff.
•    The objective of the analysis. Tactical, training, formation, etc.

 

These are just a few examples of what must be defined before advancing to the next phase. In addition, this list of concepts should be dynamic, changing throughout the season if need be. Your analysis needs will certainly evolve as the season wears on and, afterall, the important thing is how the competition ends, not how it begins.

 

Ideas to Get You Started

 

If you’re feeling a little lost and are not sure where to begin when planning your analysis, we recommend taking a look at our free downloadable templates. This page contains some basic templates designed to give our users a foundation to begin your analysis. These templates will give you a good idea of the concepts which are commonly analysed in football.

 

Download this template FREE by click here

 

Download this template FREE by click here

 

Phase 2. Use Your Analytical Intuition

 

Ok, why’ve found out what the coaches need, or at least what they currently need, but, as we said above, these needs will definitely change throughout the season.

 

And this is where your intuition and your ability to anticipate the coach’s needs come into play. Even if you are a coach who is doing analysis, try to anticipate your future needs.

 

What information might the coaching staff need in the next few weeks? What do you need as a coach? What patterns and insights are you uncovering that might need to be expanded on?

 

Think carefully about all these factors and list them. Create a list of factors you are being asked to look at vs factors you think will be relevant in the future.

 

Phase 3. Create a List of Concepts You Need to Analyse

 

Whether you are using specific analysis software or not, we think this is an extremely important step. We believe it’s essential that you get your objectives clear so that you can do an analysis which is organised and fairly professional.

 

Create a list with every aspect of a match that you feel should be analysed. Doing this will make it much easier to compile all your video clips after the match.

 

And where can you take a note of all the action you want to analyse? Well, there are a few options. Paper and pen, a spreadsheet, or something more professional: specialised software.

 

We won’t go into great detail about how Nacsport works, as we want this article to be for general advice, but if you’d like to see what Nacsport can do in more detail, check out the Nacsport Quick Start Guide or browse our blog for more information.

Is It Worth Using Specialist Software?

 

Not using specific software makes the analysis process much longer. This would be the process when using normal video editing software.

 

Go through the video and create video clips according to your needs. Make a separate clip for each play. Make sure you have an organised folder structure in which to save your clips. Create a naming structure for each of your video files so that they are easier to find. Open your drawing program. Add images. Add covers. Add text. Repeat the process 20 times, put it all together in one final video, and pray that the coaches are happy with the final result and don’t ask for too many changes! 

 

This process is certainly much longer, but the final result should be more or less similar to what you get with specific analysis software. Harder work and a much longer process, to be sure, but, in the end, you’ll have a video presentation which can be shown to the players.

 

So, going back to the initial question…is it worth using specialist software? We think the answer is “yes”. Quicker, easier and much more efficient.

 

 

Phase 4. Obtaining the Video You’re Going to Analyze

 

The next decision you must take as an analyst is deciding on how to obtain the video you’re going to analyse. Basically, this boils down to two choices:

 

(a) You don't film it, either because the game is televised or because someone else films it for you.

 

(b) You film the game, because there is no one else to film  it for you, or simply because you prefer to be in control of the capture yourself.

 

You Don’t Film: Advantages and Disadvantages

 

•    A huge chunk of the work is done for you before you start your analysis.


•    If someone is doing the filming for you, you can make suggestions and recommendations which will make the job easier when it comes to the analysis. 


•    The downside? If it's a televised game, you don’t have control over the angles shown and might miss some of the action.

 

You Film: Advantages and Disadvantages

 

•    You know exactly what video information you need and can film accordingly. Without a doubt, a wide angle is the best option for analysing a match.


•    If you are controlling the camera, you can film the exact parts of the field you need to. Maybe you want to analyse something which is off the ball, for example. If you are looking for a good camera for analysing sport, you should take a look at our hardware guide (updated for 2022) which contains cameras, computers and other essential hardware needed for video analysis.


•    The negatives? You might need some time to train and become skilled in the operation of the camera.


•    Filming takes time and energy that you may not be willing to invest.

 

Phase 5. Video Review and Clip Selection

 

There’s not much we can tell you here. This phase consists of selecting the moments of the match which will be included in your analysis and creating a library of clips.

 

Our advice is to be selective. Our colleague and sales advisor Daniel Muñoz, former analyst at Spanish club Real Betis, gives us some professional advice which we’d recommend you follow:

 

Only create clips of the actions you think could be useful. Don’t create too many clips, as you’ll lose a lot of time. But at the same time, don’t create too few clips, as you’ll miss things which should be included and you’ll have to rewatch the game to get it right.

 

 

How Many Times Should a Match Be Watched to Analyse It Correctly?

 

This is a very common question amongst novice analysts, and the truth is that there is no one single answer. It depends on the volume of information you need, how deep your analysis will be, how organised your parameters are, and many other factors. We know analysts who can find all the information they need with a single viewing, whilst others watch every match two or three times.

 

If you’re using specific analysis software such as Nacsport, there are various tools which make this process easier. Playback at different speeds, slow motion, keyboard shortcuts for skipping backwards and forwards…you have full control. Check out the videos below for an overview of these features:

 

 

 

Phase 6. The Real Analysis: Filtering and Selecting Clips

 

Once you’ve finished tagging and documenting everything that has happened in the game, it’s time to start preparing the final report or presentation that will be shown to the coaches, players or both, depending on the work system.

 

We’ve seen various methods of doing presentations over the years. There are some top-level teams where the analyst will present directly to the full team, have individual sessions with players, or present just to the coaches. In the case of the latter, coaches may request further edits to final videos before presenting to players.

 

As always, if you’re both the team coach and analyst, you decide what’s best for you!

 

 

Phase 7. How to Prepare an Efficient Presentation

 

You should now have a selection of clips - your conclusion - to present to the players. Many analysts take a bit more time at this point to edit the clips a bit more. They might add additional information in the form of text or drawings which make the message being conveyed much clearer, improving communication.

 

Improve Visual Communication with Drawings

 

Have you seen how they use graphics on televised matches to help users understand the match better? Arrows, bases, text, etc. This type of technology reinforces messages. And you can do the same.

 

There are many programs on the market that allow you to draw on top of video frames. From free tools like Paint, available on Windows, to a huge number of paid-for tools available online.

 

We always recommend working with KlipDraw, one of the best sport-specific tools on the market for adding drawings, animation and tracking to video clips. In fact, KlipDraw Basic is already included by default in Nacsport.

 

Nacsport users can also upgrade to a KlipDraw Animate or Motion license which contain even more features for improving communication. If you don’t have specific video analysis software, KlipDraw is also available as a standalone tool which makes it compatible with any video editing software on the market.

Organising the Presentation

 

What’s the best way to organise a presentation? Again, this may depend on what has been agreed upon by the coaching staff and the type of content you’re going to present.

 

Here are some examples of the content we often see:

 

•    Tactical analysis of different phases of the game (defense, attack, transitions...)
•    The parameters that you have tagged (shots, steals, goals...)
•    Own analysis followed by opposition analysis
•    Specific lists of clips
•    Individual actions if you want to focus on a key player

 

These ideas can be presented individually or together, depending on the message you want to deliver. 

 

We do, however, recommend that you keep the structure as firm as possible throughout the season. If players know how presentations are organised, they are more likely to pay attention to certain details.

 

Length of Presentation

 

Attention levels will vary depending on the type of content to be shared, the state of mind of the player, and many other factors. We know coaches whose presentations last for 30 minutes and more but, in all honesty, we know how difficult it is to maintain attention and retain information for that long, especially when dealing with young footballers.

 

Other coaches prefer to conduct shorter sessions, combining individual and team meetings in which different topics are dealt with. For example, they may have one session that conveys info about their own team, and another which delves into the opposition's tactics. There’s no written rule.

 

But since you’ve come here looking for answers…

 

We’re of the opinion that the ideal should be no less than 8 minutes and no more than 15 minutes. Too short and you’re not getting your message across, too long and you risk losing the attention of the viewer. In general, it’s better to have as few clips which highlight the point you want to put across. Quality over quantity, as the old saying goes.

 

The Advantages of Using Specialised Video Analysis Software

 

If you decide to use specialised software such as Nacsport, creating presentations is much faster and infinitely more dynamic. You’ll be able edit and modify everything on the fly. Check out this article for some top tips on how to create great presentations.

Bonus: Train and Improve 

 

We’re not going to reveal anything new in this last chapter but, instead, we’re going to remind you that video analysis is a discipline in constant evolution and, as such, you should be evaluating your workflows regularly. Constant self-evaluation and applying improvements where necessary will allow you to hone your methodology and improve the quality of your work. 

 

In a few months, you’ll see how much progress you have made. Self-analysis is just as important as the analysis of your team.

 

Before we end, we’d just like to say that we are at your disposal if you have any questions about anything you’ve read in this article or want to have a chat about Nacsport and how it can help you. Get in touch with us through our website or through any of our social media channels and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

 

Until then, thanks for reading.

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