How to Succeed as a Freelance Sports Analyst

By Jammy McFarlane

30-October-2020 on Users

12 minute read

Jammy McFarlane is a former rugby coach who now works as a full-time freelance soccer video analyst (although he still keeps a boot in the world of rugby).

 

Working with a variety of clubs in the lower leagues of Scotland, Jammy provides an invaluable service to those sides who perhaps don’t have the funds to set up a full-time analysis department as seen in most professional clubs.

 

Jammy provides a variety of analytical solutions to his clients, such as match analysis, opposition analysis and creating highlights reels for out of contract players, and one of the main tools at his disposal is Nacsport. In this article, Jammy tells us about his typical working week, how he uses Nacsport daily and how he wouldn’t change his job for anything.

Trying to Make a Difference

 

 

St Johnstone Women, East Fife, East Fife U20s, Edinburgh City, Civil Service Strollers and Civil Service Strollers U20s all compete in the lower echelons of Scottish soccer and I am lucky to currently serve all of them in a video analysis capacity.

 

Whilst the big full-time clubs who enjoy the ££millions from TV income can afford entire departments dedicated to analysis, the world in which my clubs operate is a million miles away from this. But together we have found a way to provide analysis to players and management that is way better than the old "notes on the back of a napkin" system, which I'm sure is still employed in some places. 

 

Nacsport’s wide range of software levels and add-ons give me the tools to supply analysis for even the tightest budget.

 

Civil Service Strollers, for example, are a small Lowland League club with next to no budget and, whilst they cannot pay players much beyond expenses, they have chosen to spend a bit of cash on analysis because a) it’s a selling point to prospective players and b) it helps to improve the team collectively and individually. 

 

I appreciate that I’m biased but I think this is a great example of a small club showing both ambition and supporting the improvement of their players with very little money.

 

The Working Week Begins

 

Freelance Analyst

 

My working week starts on matchday which is generally a Saturday.

 

I will almost certainly attend a match and code a game live with either a camera feed or coding live and using the power of Nacsport to marry the created timeline to the video after the final whistle.

 

Either way, management can quickly review the key moments in the game before speaking to the press. How many times do you hear managers get something wrong in post-match interviews because they haven’t seen the key moment a second or third time?

 

Currently, none of my clubs use the service but I do have an AP Wireless set up and can send live feed with video clips and dashboards to the dugout. I have used this previously with great success and look forward to doing so again in the future. Nacsport Coach Station is my friend for this process and allows for dressing room review at half time if necessary.

 

Saturday Night’s Alright for Tagging

 

Freelance Analyst 3

 

Saturday night is a busy night as my other clubs will send me their films for coding and, depending on how many games were played, I can call on the services of two young aspiring analysts, Euan and Robert, who have Basic+ and Scout+ respectively, and can quite easily code a match with these using our generic first tag template. 

 

The clubs will use some or all of the buttons on the template and there’s a nice Dashboard created for each club. Within 12 hours of receiving video, I will have the coded games on the sharing platform for all management/players to view.

 

One of the assistant managers I work with has Tag&view on his iPad, so I can send him an interactive dashboard along with film on a Sunday morning for him to review.

 

Sunday will be spent finishing all the generic first tags and making a start to individual player tags for the relevant clubs that require this. The templates for these vary from club to club as different management teams have their own strategies and philosophies.

 

Sunday also usually involves phone calls and Whatsapp messages between me and the management teams depending on whether there is something more specific they need from the post-match analysis.

 

Scouting the Opposition

 

Freelance Analyst Dashboard

 

Monday and Tuesday are spent finishing off individual player tags, sending video clips of loan players to parent clubs and starting to put together opposition analyses for those who use that part of my service.

 

I currently have 2 Tag&view licenses which I put on the scouts’ phones so they can create a timeline whilst watching live games of the upcoming opposition. For ease of use there is only 1 button on the template which is set for 35 seconds pre and 5 post click.

 

The scout will usually send me the .tgnac file on a Saturday night and I will get footage from either Wyscout or Instat when available. The video file is then made and sent to the scout to review. He will then choose which clips to present to management and I will add the scout’s notes, drawings using KlipDraw or change the clip length to best support the message the scout is trying to convey. Alongside this, I will have collated a lot of set-play footage from the last 3 games and again this will be edited down by scout/management to add to the final presentation which players will see.

 

How to Prepare Soccer Scouting Reports with InStat and Nacsport

 

Wednesday is usually spent tidying up any loose ends from the weekend, catching up with Euan and Robert if they have been involved in any coding and maybe some project work if I have anything on the go. For example, I am about to start quite a significant project in Leagues One and Two in Scotland which I’m quite excited about.

 

No Days Off and Other Services

 

Freelance Analyst 4

Midweek games can present a challenge as the turnaround is much shorter so opposition prep, for example, needs to get going well in advance.

 

Thursday and Friday gives me some downtime but, invariably, I’ll get caught up in something or other connected to work. 

 

And suddenly it's Saturday again and the cycle starts again!

 

Highlight reels for out-of-contract players bring in some extra work from time to time and during the COVID lockdown, these were especially welcome. I’m pleased to say that all the players who utilized this service managed to secure either full or part time contracts.

 

I now produce quarterly reports from some clubs and the transfer window also offers opportunities for me.

 

Nacsport: The One for Me

 

Freelance Analyst 5

 

Over the last 20 years, I have used most analysis software but I’m now really happy and settled with Nacsport. The support from them and the lads at AnalysisPro is second to none.

 

I’m loving the latest Nacsport updates and features. Graphic descriptors have been jumped on by clubs and where I was previously “Matrix Man” I am now “Dashboard Daft”. My only bugbear with Nacsport Pro+ is that I can’t get multiple dashboards. Maybe when we get out of this pandemic I will be able to start saving for the jump to Nacsport Elite!

 

How I earn a living would not suit everyone but I wouldn’t change it. Working with various clubs in the same sport can be challenging and, whilst I don’t mind having clubs in the same division, it’s easier if they are in different leagues, especially when you are trying to build relationships with managers/coaches etc. 

 

The clubs have to trust me, and that’s massive. I won’t share things outside of that club without permission. I don’t offer any great tactical insights so I cannot see any conflict of interest that others may see. If my opinion is sought then I will give it, but I see my role as a supporting role for the real soccer experts...the management teams. What I do is save them time that they can use elsewhere for the progression of the team. 

 

I sometimes think it would be great to have just the one club to work for so that I could get deeper into more layers of analysis but, actually, that would detract from my present experiences of interacting with so many analysts, videographers, management staff and players who make my working life so enjoyable.

 

These people give me the opportunity and Nacsport give me the tools I need so that I can in some small way make a difference. And for me, that’s what it’s all about.

 

We at Nacsport want to say a huge thank you to Jammy for sharing his experiences as a freelance analyst and providing us with such great insights!

 

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about anything you have read in this article, contact us at media@nacsport.com and we'll be happy to answer your questions. To download a FREE Nacsport trial, click the link below.

 

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