Video Analysis in Women's Football at Athletic Club, Bilbao

By Duncan Ritchie

04-September-2023 on Users

14 minute read

At Nacsport, we love hearing from our users about how the software is used in real-world settings. And today, we speak to one such user, Iñaki Martín Abraldes, analyst at Spain’s Athletic Club Bilbao women’s team.

 

Iñaki is currently in his fifth season as head of analysis for the women’s division at the Basque club, and he’s worked with Nacsport for almost as long. During that time, he has seen some immense changes in women’s football in Spain, including, of course, the recent World Cup win.

 

So, let’s get started…

Iñaki M. Abraldes is more than qualified to talk about video analysis and women’s football in general. And although we want to hear his thoughts on the former, it’s inevitable that talk of the latter will arise, especially following the tsunami that followed the World Cup victory.

 

video analysis womens football

Photo: Iñaki M. Abraldes 

 

"Women's football in Spain has been simmering for many years", says Iñaki about his country’s recent win. And he should know. Athletic Club has been one of the most pioneering clubs when it comes to its commitment to the women’s game, and Iñaki has been right there at the vanguard.

 

“Athletic has been pushing women’s football for years”, he explains. “We were there at the beginning and, over time, others have joined us. At the national level and in the lower divisions, the women’s game has been growing exponentially. The game is now more visible than ever, although still not visible enough, and more girls are coming into the fold everyday, looking to emulate their role models. The base of the pyramid is widening and there are more and more players getting involved in the elite game everyday.”

 

athletic club bilbao womens football

Photo: Athletic Club (www.athletic-club.eus)

 

But before we delve deeper into the topic of women’s football, let’s first find out a little more about Iñaki himself and about his football analysis journey.

 

Although young, Iñaki M. Abraldes is undoubtedly a veteran of analysis at the top flight of women’s football in Spain. He is also an authoritative voice when it comes to Nacsport, as he has used it since taking up his post at the Basque club.

 

So, how did he get here?

 

Bielsa: A Springboard to Athletic

 

Iñaki’s arrival at Athletic Club was facilitated by Marcelo Bielsa, collaborating with the Argentine coach on opposition analysis. This was an intensive 6-months of learning for the analyst. As well as working with “El Loco”, Iñaki was working as a coach at Indartsu de San Miguel de Basauri, a club where he spent ten seasons as an assistant coach for their youth teams.

 

But these two experiences allowed him to gain confidence as an analyst and consolidate his working practices. From there, he moved to working full time with Athletic’s women. This year marks Iñaki’s fifth as a head analyst in La Liga F, the highest level of women’s football in Spain.

 

Five years under the tutelage of some of Spain’s top coaches such as Ángel Villacampa and Iraia Iturregi, as well as Athletics new head coach, David Aznar.

 

iñaki abraldes analyst

Photo:Athletic Club (www.athletic-club.eus)

 

Training, Athletic and Nacsport

 

Iñaki first crossed paths with Nacsport whilst training to become a coach, but this was a fleeting encounter. Nacsport wouldn’t become his analysis tool of choice until taking up his post at Athletic Club.

 

The fact is that Nacsport is used for analysis throughout the club’s structure, from the first team to youths, both masculine and feminine. Every team and every coach uses the same software. 

 

And it seems that Iñaki had an instant affinity with Nacsport. That’s not surprising, especially when considering the huge amount of resources that we make available to our users. From official courses to video tutorials to personalised support, we make onboarding for coaches like Iñaki, who maybe don’t have a vast amount of knowledge on the functionality of our software, easy and pain free.

 

video analysis at athletic club bilbao

Photo:Iñaki M. Abraldes

 

Iñaki utilises a Nacsport Elite license, our flagship product, which allows him to collect and manage “a huge amount of data and information”. The adaptability and tools in this software mean that the options are practically unlimited for analysts that want to get deep insights into the game.

 

So, let’s take a look at the typical daily routine in the life of a top flight analyst…

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The Day-to-Day at Athletic Club

 

I use Nacsport everyday”, says Iñaki.

 

This doesn’t surprise us, especially when considering how hard most analysts work before, during and after a game, sometimes without a day off, observing, studying and dissecting everything that happens on the pitch.

 

And it’s not only weekly games that they do this for.

 

“Not only do we film and analyse matches”, explains Iñaki, “but also training sessions. At the end of a session, I tag various actions that have happened on the training ground and pass them to the coaching staff.”

 

And it doesn’t end there.

 

“I analyse several matches that our upcoming opposition has played in. I study the game and analyse the data from various platforms so that it’s available for coaches and players”.

 

analysis in womens football at athletic club

Photo: Iñaki M. Abraldes

 

“But luckily I have Nacsport. It gives me the agility to do my job much faster. And not only that, I can customise my analysis in any way I can think of.” 

 

And so it goes. As soon as one task finishes, the next begins with little time to reflect, until the season ends. 

 

So, what does Iñaki look for during an opposition analysis?

 

“I review lineups, tactical systems, substitutions, and, in general, any information that helps us focus on the opposition.

 

“This data allows me to study how they attack, how they defend, what their transitions are like, and their set-piece strategy, something which is usually in the hands of the assistant coach.”

 

 

Key Tools: Matrixes and Presentations

 

Iñaki is a stand up guy, for sure. From the moment that we arranged this interview, he has been extremely open to discussing his work, even offering to show us first hand what role Nacsport plays in his working life. 

 

We were extremely happy to hear that Nacsport saves him so much time…but we also feel a bit guilty because this interview is taking up some of that hard earned time!

 

Anyway, what tools allow him to save this time that we’re selfishly stealing from him?

 

“For me, matrixes and presentations are two essential tools. They help me organise my analysis and thoughts, and help me prepare the reports I have to give to the coaching staff.”

 

Additionally, the compatibility of Nacsport with other programs and data providers is extremely important.

 

“I can download data from various different sources and import it to Nacsport. This allows me to complement my own data and keep it altogether in the same place.”

 

And we agree…compatibility and easily accessible data is the future of video analysis.

 

the current state of analysis in womens football

Photo:Iñaki M. Abraldes

 

 

The Current State of Video Analysis in Women's Football

 

Women’s football - at least in Spain - is currently strengthening all its structures. The country's achievement at the World Cup can only boost this effort, but there are still many areas where improvement is needed - facilities, training, salaries, and many others.

 

Of course, video analysis is still a growing discipline too, so it might be easy to think that women’s football also struggles in this area. Iñaki, however, has a differing point of view.

 

female footballers at athletic club bilbao

Photo: Athletic Club (www.athletic-club.eus)

 

Women’s football is clearly on the rise and video analysis goes hand in hand with it. In the first division, there is already a group of analysts who share game videos so that we all have access to the same data. This is coordinated by the Spanish Football Federation and allows us to work under the best possible conditions.

 

But yes, there is still some distance to go before reaching parity with the men’s game, especially in terms of salary. And it’s not just in football where these improvements need to be made, as the same arguments often appear in basketball too.

 

And it’s not just money where the discrepancies lie. In the men’s game, the analyst’s job is made significantly easier due to the availability of professionally filmed game videos, something which simply doesn’t exist in the women’s game.

 

This is why programs such as the aforementioned video sharing happens, even in La Liga F, one of the most advanced leagues in the world. So, the fight continues for video platforms with standardised recordings of women’s leagues.

 

But clubs such as Athletic are one step ahead of the curve. They are working hard to ensure that the data they collect has a real impact on the needs of the team.

 

We’ll give the last word to Iñaki…

 

“At Athletic Club, we work with Nacsport to try and unify the data so that it transverses whatever level of the game is being played and becomes useful to everyone involved in the game.”

 

We’d like to say a huge thanks to Iñaki Abraldes for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about video analysis and the state of the women’s game in Spain. It has been extremely interesting.

 

Thanks for reading.

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