Case Study: The Spanish Field Hockey Federation

By Duncan Ritchie

14-February-2023 on Users

14 minute read

Although the majority of our users are involved in the worlds of football and basketball, Nacsport was actually originally developed for the analysis of field hockey matches. This was back in the early 2000s when there were very few programs dedicated to the analysis of sport.

 

Once released as commercial software, one of our first ever clients was the Spanish Hockey Federation, an organisation with whom we still work with closely to this day. Since we started working together, the Spanish men’s team have been runners-up in the Olympics and climbed to an all time high of 3rd in the FIH world rankings during the 2008 / 09 season. The women’s team, likewise, managed a third-place finish in the 2018 World Cup and currently sit at 7th place in the FIH world rankings.

 

In this blog, we’re going to talk to Andrew Wilson, who is the Head of Scouting and Analysis at the federation, and find out how video analysis is used to help Spain prepare for big tournaments.

 

Let’s get started…

 

Meet Andrew Wilson

 

andrew wilson spanish hockey federation

 

Although English by birth, Andrew Wilson has a long history within Spanish hockey. Whilst studying at University, he took a year out to go abroad for a year. 

 

During this time, he landed in Catalonia, Spain, where he ended up in the town of Terrassa on the outskirts of Barcelona. Here, he fell into a coaching role at the famous Club Egara, a hotbed for Spanish hockey.

 

Andrew ended up staying at Egara for two years, before returning to England to finish his studies. But, directly after graduating, Andrew returned to Catalonia to continue in his work at the club.

 

It was here he met Adrian Lock, who was senior head coach at Egara and would go on to become the head coach for the Spanish national women’s team. Looking to level up the performance of the national team, Lock asked Andrew for his assistance, and Andrew obliged. Starting in a voluntary capacity, Andrew would film and analyse games for the federation. In Andrew’s own words, this soon snowballed into a coaching position with Spain, which saw him working as an assistant coach and analyst for the women’s team at the Rio Olympics.

 

After a short stint in Canada, Andrew returned to the Spanish federation to take up a permanent coaching role and, eventually, took up the position of Head of Scouting and Analysis, a post that was created in January 2022, showing the faith the national team are putting in Andrew and in video analysis.

 

As well as his analysis duties, Andrew continues to be hands-on with coaching the women’s team, and also works as a coach with an English Premier Division club in London, when his international duties allow for it.

 

 

How the Spanish Federation Uses Video Analysis

 

Although video analysis has been in use at the federation for many years, and they have a more advanced analysis structure than many other nations, Andrew freely admits that they are still playing catch up to many of their European counterparts, especially Belgium, German and Holland.

 

But there is a hunger to improve the situation in Spain, evidenced by the relatively recent creation of Andrew’s post. There’s a real need and passion for fostering a “culture of sharing”. And not just at the senior international level, but at every age group and level across the Spanish territory. From junior teams to league clubs, the creation of a solid analysis structure is seen as key to raising standards across the board.

 

But first, let’s talk about the day-to-day use of video analysis at the federation…

 

video analysis at the spanish hockey federation

 

Opposition Analysis

 

Opposition analysis is one of the main duties that Andrew and his team has at the Federation and one of the most important, especially during big tournaments, such as the recent Field Hockey World Cup in India, where Spain made it to the quarter-finals.

 

Andrew performs a full tactical analysis of every team that Spain will come up against, looking specifically at how the opposition performs during “game winning” situations.

 

These game winning situations can be defined as situations such as penalty strokes, attacks, turn overs and transitions.

 

They also look closely at the performance of the opposition goalkeeper. This is no small task, especially if the opposing team has a pool which includes four different goalkeepers.

 

After performing a tactical analysis, Andrew will extract the key insights from each game and upload them to the Nacsport Hub platform, where the players can access video clips and full games at their leisure, allowing them to prepare for upcoming games.

 

 

Obviously, these insights will also serve as a basis for certain training exercises, where the team will prepare for common tactics which are employed by the opposition.

 

One of the difficulties of opposition analysis in field hockey is the availability of video footage of previous games. Obviously, field hockey is not as widely televised as, say, football, so footage is not as freely available. 

 

To this end, Andrew is in constant contact with coaches and analysts from other international federations. Within this network, there are informal agreements in place to share video footage with each other. The agreement covers the majority of the international community and has new federations joining on a regular basis. Without a doubt, this is a fantastic initiative which bolsters the spirit of cooperation between countries and the International Hockey Federation itself.

 

 

Own Analysis

 

There are around 10 international teams within the Spanish federation, from U16s to seniors, both male and female teams as well as the indoor hockey teams, and video analysis is provided for each of them.

 

This is a huge amount of work for Andrew and his team, although they don’t provide the same level of analysis for every age group. According to Andrew, analysis at the U16 level is mostly limited to individual analysis, which he believes provides the biggest gains at this group. It allows players to get valuable insights into their own performance and improve exponentially.

 

The senior teams, on the other hand, receive the full gamut of analysis. Andrew will provide a full tactical analysis for each game that the women’s and men’s senior teams are involved in, as well as an individual analysis for each player. From here, individual coaches can use the software to add their own descriptors to provide even more insights for each player and personalise the service even further.

 

When it comes to analysing training sessions, Andrew says that this is limited to very specific exercises that they want to work on. As time and resources are limited, it doesn’t make sense to analyse absolutely everything that is practised on the training ground. The Spanish team never analyse anything for the sake of it. Everything is meticulously planned so that nothing is wasted.

 

 

 

Live Analysis

 

Another big part of Andrew’s role is to perform a live analysis during games in order to provide coaches with immediate insights.

 

This is generally done with Andrew sitting in the broadcast tower, registering the match and sending clips, data and dashboards to the bench via Nacsport Coach Station.

 

Again, the information that is sent is generally limited to the most important “game winning” situations within a match. Coaches on the bench can check statistical information through the dashboard, as well as rewatch clips of important game moments that Andrew has highlighted.

 

In these situations, Andrew admits that it is important not to overwhelm the coaches with too much information, which may distract them from the game. The information he makes available through Coach Station is that which is highly relevant to the game, such as penalties, formations, etc. This can be involved to inform the strategy employed during a game, allowing coaches to make on-the-fly decisions.

 

The Federation also makes good use of another Nacsport tool - Tag&view - which is a mobile app designed as a lightweight analysis solution.

 

Andrew tells us that, very often, players who have not been selected for the squad in any given game are recruited for the analysis cause. They sit in the stands, armed with iPads, and collect data which can then be married to the video footage after the game. Not only this, these players can meet their teammates during the breaks and give them first hand insight into the game through the data and / or video clips they have collected.

 

 

National Club Teams

 

Another big part of Andrew’s role within the Spanish Federation is working with the national club teams to help provide them with analysis resources.

 

The aim here is to get every team in the national senior leagues to provide video footage and a basic analysis of every match they play. By doing this, every team will have access to field hockey performance data, which raises standards across the board.

 

In order to do this successfully, Andrew is currently in the process of providing each team with a standardised analysis template so that they can all collect similar data. He is also advising them on the best practices for filming games, such as the best equipment and angles to utilise.

 

 

Tactical Analysis Spanish Hockey Federation Template Nacsport

Download this template FREE by clicking here

 

 

This is a work in progress, but Andrew believes that this where the biggest step forward in Spanish hockey has been over the last few years. Obviously, this will also help with the “Scouting” part of his job title, making identifying talent for the national team much easier and quicker.

 

Apart from this, Andrew and his team use the best footage to create media packages, which can be sent out to broadcasters, raising the profile of the game in Spain in the process.

 

 

The Benefits of Video Analysis

 

So, does video analysis help to improve performance?

 

Well, that’s a big “yes” from Andrew. Over the last few years, he has seen the rapid proliferation of the use of video analysis in field hockey. All the major teams and national federations use analysis to track and improve on the pitch performance.

 

Players recognise how helpful it is to their own careers and “want and crave” it according to Andrew. In addition, the use of platforms such as Sharimg to share analysis work and get it directly into the hands of the players means that the possibilities for self-appraisal and self-learning are now off the charts.

 

And, of course, the benefits for coaches are myriad too. From getting insights into an upcoming opponent, to squad selection, to tactical appraisal, to on-the-fly changes to tactics during a match, video analysis allows coaches to up their game and get closer to the gold and glory than ever before.

 

 

 

 

 

Try It for Yourself

 

We’d like to thank Andrew for taking the time out to talk to us about the role video analysis plays at the Spanish Field Hockey Federation. These are invaluable insights into workflows and processes which are in use at the highest level of the game.

 

For those of you reading this and thinking that video analysis could be of benefit for your organisation or team, we’d like to invite you to try our software free for a period of 30 days. We have a range of software packages which are apt for every level of field hockey and every budget. Click here to download and try it now.

And, if you have any questions about anything you have read in this article, or about video analysis in general, please feel free to get in contact with us through our website or any of our social media channels and we’ll do our best to answer them.

 

Likewise, if you’ve got any additional questions for Andrew himself, get in touch with us and we’ll send them on to him.

 

Again, a massive thanks to Andrew Wilson for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and, to you reader…

 

Thanks for reading.

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