#2. The Leap Isn't That Far

By Darren Lewis

06-May-2020 on Users

7 minute read

We are proud to present the second in a series of guest posts by Darren Lewis, Head Analyst at Gloucester Rugby. If you haven't already done so, click here to read Darren's first post - Evaluation, Evolution

 

In his second post, Darren continues the story of his thoughts and processes when making the move from Sportscode to Nacsport at Gloucester...

The collaboration between my department, the Nacsport team and AnalysisPro, along with the time we spent evaluating the software, gave us the confidence to say that Nacsport was a real alternative to Sportscode.

 

Their receptiveness to feedback and eagerness to continually improve the end-user experience demonstrated how much they valued customer opinions and that they held end-user experience in high regard (after almost four years as a customer, this is still a prominent feature of our relationship).

 

With the confidence we had developed as an analysis department, it was then important to include other stakeholders who would be working heavily with the system in the decision - the coaches.

 

“If your decisions actually follow a process and involve the right people at each step, with transparency, the benefits are numerous”

Latham, A. (2015). 12 Reasons why how you make decisions is more important than what you decide. Forbes

 

The coaches prior experience with using performance analysis software was limited to Sportscode, so involving them in the decision to move to a different piece of analysis technology was vital. I wanted to give them an understanding of why I would be asking them to learn new processes and adapt the way they worked - but also evidence to them the benefits we would have and how we would stretch the boundaries of what was achievable with new tools and workflows.

 

It was going to be a learning process for us all but, instead of dropping a new system in front of the coaches and expecting them to navigate their way through it on their own, I organised a number of workshops to introduce them to key elements of the software during the evaluation period. Initially, we showed them the tools that I knew would have an immediate impact on how they could work.

 

We started with dashboards, presentation windows and KlipDraw. Demonstrating these tools engaged them immediately because they quickly saw a variety of ways to interact with video and how simple they were to use.

 

“There is incredible value when we get associates involved in creating the solutions rather than just expecting them to execute on whatever has been decided they should do”

Whitehurst, J. (2016). Decisions are more effective when more people are involved from the start. Harvard Business Review

 

Throughout my career, one of my major working philosophies has always been to ensure that the coaches I work with are able to be as self-sufficient as possible when it comes to using analysis software. The art of coaching has evolved significantly and we now, possibly, spend more time coaching away from the field with video than we do with our boots laced up, and I imagine this is the case in most sports, not just rugby.

 

With this in mind, it’s crucial for me that coaches are able to utilise analysis technology as effectively as possible to enhance the quality of their video coaching interventions. This allows myself and my staff to spend our time adding value in other areas whilst supporting their processes, working with the players and collaborating with other departments in the organisation on interdisciplinary projects.

 

For this to happen most effectively, things need to be relatively simple from a technical aspect for coaches to learn. Whilst things would look and feel differently when we initially transition to Nacsport, compared to what they had been used to, our new way of working would very quickly become the norm.

 

The leap wasn’t that far!

 

At one point in time, no one would ever have thought we’d be walking around with thousands of digitised songs in our pockets then, all of a sudden, along came iPods and now we don’t know any different.

 

This was the same premise.

 

“Advocating for new systems often requires demolishing the old way of doing things, and we hold back for fear of rocking the boat”

Grant, A. (2017). The Originals. Ebury Publishing

 

In my opinion, there are multiple layers of usage between coaches and analysts when it comes to working with performance analysis software and, although working with video analysis technology is where coaches do spend a large amount of their off-field time, there are plenty of other areas that they are involved in.

 

In comparison, analysts spend practically all their time in the deepest, darkest corners of software. So, developing and supporting bespoke workflows for coaches is a very important aspect of the role.

 

Perhaps coaches don’t necessarily need to know all of the ins and outs of building advanced category templates or need to understand the different output options for exporting a matrix to Excel. They possibly don’t even need to know how to use the descriptor calculator, anchor register feature or know anything about RTSP feeds for live capture, although, I’d be the first person to support upskilling in these areas if the desire to learn was there and it would add value.

 

What coaches do need is to have effective workflows that allow them to achieve their desired outcomes easily (which isn't a one-size-fits-all approach) and the creation of these fall into the analyst’s remit.

 

The workshops also gave us the opportunity to discuss how we were working as a collective and what we were trying to achieve with each element of analysis provision. This was incredibly valuable and would help reshape our analysis processes in the future.

 

Everyone was on board and knew the direction I wanted to go by moving to Nacsport. The workshops continued on a regular basis so that the coaches could keep getting exposure to Nacsport and begin to create new working habits.

 

This would give us a jump start when we actually got going.

 

“A habit is a formula our brain automatically follows. To reengineer that formula, we need to begin making choices again and the easiest way to do this is to have a plan”

Duhigg, C. (2013). The Power of Habit. Random House Books

 

The plan for growing our collective knowledge and expertise around the workings of software was underway. The final piece of the business proposal puzzle was opening the Windows to the hardware requirements and presenting it all to the Director of Rugby for final sign off ...

 

REFERENCES

 

Latham, A. (2015). 12 Reasons why how you make decisions is more important than what you decide. Forbes

Whitehurst, J. (2016). Decisions are more effective when more people are involved from the Start. Havard Business Review

Grant, A. (2017). The Originals. Ebury Publishing.

Duhigg, C. (2013). The Power of Habit. Random House Books

 

Read #3 - Once in a Lifetime

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