#4. Complex Simplicity

By Darren Lewis

18-May-2020 on Users

7 minute read

In his previous post, Darren Lewis, Head of Performance Analysis at Gloucester Rugby, talked us through the financial and logistical implications of changing the club's video analysis software from Sportscode to Nacsport.

 

Now, in this brand new post, Darren takes us through the process of setting up effective workflows within the software and shows us how more advanced Nacsport features such as Panel Flows and Clustered Buttons can take analysis to the next level.

 

Over to you Darren... 

With the transition to Nacsport approved at the end of the 2016/17 season, we had plenty of time during the off-season to configure our new hardware and pre-season gave us time to develop the resources we’d need by the time competitive fixtures rolled around in September.

 

An important first step was setting up a file naming protocol for our Nacsport databases and a folder structure to store our files in.

 

This allowed us to maximise the tools that would enable us to work dynamically across multiple Nacsport databases. Conditionally searching for categories with combinations of descriptors and opening dashboards over multiple databases by searching for a specific word in its name, e.g. “won”, are two of the most common processes I now use.

 

The Search Tool and Dashboards are extremely powerful components of the software, so simple processes like purposefully naming our Nacsport databases and storing them in a structured manner opens up opportunities to maximise those tools. Both workflows rely on understanding the subtleties of the system, effective organisation and foresight.

 

This is another one of those tasks which may not sound very important, but having everything mirrored and organised on all of our laptops and server was crucial for our working processes moving forward.

 

“The most fundamental principle of the organised mind, the one most critical to keeping us from forgetting or losing things, is to shift the burden of organising from our brains to the external world”

 

Levitin, D. (2014). The Organised Mind: Thinking straight in the age of information overload

 

The real priority for us was building button templates for team and individual player performance, each with its own dashboard. Other areas of focus during this period were designing a workflow for analysing the set-piece elements of rugby and finalising the processes we’d use to share collaborative files between my department, the coaches and players.

 

The coaches had developed a foundation of knowledge from the workshops we held, allowing them to work independently, cutting and animating pre-season training footage. This allowed us to focus on our priority areas as well as upskilling the players to use our Nacsport Viewer licenses, without too much handholding for the coaches.

 

During the time we spent evaluating the system, the developers at Nacsport had been extremely busy. They responded positively to feedback about existing tools and some that were under development, sending us a number of software updates. There were also some new features that were due to be released in time for us to build our button templates: Panel Flows and Clustered Buttons.

 

Having had a preview of both tools during development, the impact they would have on button template creation was clear. In fact, these two features alone smashed the boundaries of anything I had worked with before.

 

My philosophy for building templates has always been to maximise the tools that the software can offer, combining features intelligently to make the system work for you to get the most bang for your click.

 

High levels of functionality with a simple methodology is the key to building a successful template, in my opinion.

 

It can be easy to get carried away with Panel Flows.

 

Because Nacsport gives you the opportunity to spread category and descriptor buttons, as well as XY co-ordinate maps (Graphic Descriptors) over a number of different template panels, there is a temptation to keep adding more and more. This could lead to over-saturating your data collection and make the chain of notation and buttonology of the template unnecessarily complex.

 

However, using Panel Flows effectively can drastically simplify your chain of notation as well as improve the accuracy of data collection when used in tandem with other features like blocking descriptors and click tolerances per panel.

 

Before a single button was made, I mapped out the framework of exactly what I would need from a data collection perspective which helped when it came to building the panel components of the template.

 

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

 

Beahm, G. (2011) I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words

 

Clustered Buttons is another feature that can significantly enhance the level of functionality and open up possibilities in button templates.

 

Nacsport has options for linking different button types to produce specific behaviours, based on the types of buttons that are being linked. My preference from a flexibility perspective is to maximise button clusters. Most of the development work was needed on the home panel of my team performance template and Clustered Buttons provided huge amounts of flexibility.

 

Clustered Buttons, used in tandem with Panel Flows can really add another layer to the workings of a template.

 

The home panel of my team template has multiple clusters of six buttons (six layers of buttons on top of one another). There is a mix of category and descriptor buttons here and my intention was for the descriptors to travel inside specific categories, but not all. The order of the cluster is a critical factor for where descriptors are able to travel, because of how the Clustered Button feature is designed.

 

It took a fair bit of experimenting with the order of clusters to get descriptors travelling to the desired place and again using the block descriptor feature meant that the risk of a descriptor ending up in the wrong category was extremely low.

 

Using a combination of tools that complement each other helped me achieve a high level of complex simplicity with this template. Complexity in terms of how the template was built but simplicity in terms of how it was to be used.

 

Whenever I build templates, I am in the habit of saving a new version every time I make a change or development. So, after ninety-one versions and with the Clustered Buttons and Panel Flows finalised and fully tested, it was good to go.

 

Next job: individual player performance template and dashboard builds...

 

REFERENCES

 

Levitin, D. (2014). The Organised Mind: Thinking straight in the age of information overload

 

Beahm, G. (2011). I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words

 

Read #5 - The Software Works for You

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