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Analyst Spotlight - José Ángel Samaniego

As one of our most respected customers and a user of Nacsport since we first launched more than 12 years ago, José Ángel Samaniego is a basketball analyst, with a reputation for his methodical approach to the game.

Now at Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, José popped into the Nacsport office last week, to grab a sneak peek at our new LineUps feature, which we’ve developed with basketball - and other sports where players rotate throughout a game - in mind.

Naturally, we took the chance to ask him a few questions...

Samaniego Plaza
When and how did you discover Nacsport? When did you begin using it and have you tried other software before? 
I began using Nacsport soon after it launched. At the time I was already working as a trainer in Gran Canaria. 

I used a generic software we gave all the coaches. But it was very old and failed a lot. Then the team at Nacsport gave me a presentation and I had the feeling that this program was going to be different - and help my work. 

I had no job for a year, but when I arrived at Fuenlabrada Nacsport was being used by their team. For the last 10 years I’ve been working with the software. 

What layers within the club are using Nacsport? 
St. Petersburg were using another software when I arrived, but I said I wanted to continue working with Nacsport because it’s the tool I know best and provides everything I need.

We have maintained a duality, with Sportscode this season, although the entire first team plan to move to Nacsport.

How many matches do you analyze in a week? 
For me, Nacsport is a post-match analysis tool, that’s what interests us as coaches - a very detailed analysis of the matches we have played. I don’t use it to create videos and with the number of matches we play during a week it would be very complicated to analyse our rivals. 

Other sources already provide these edited videos and Nacsport gives us the option to import their files. It is a more effective way to use our time. 

nac promo an spcard samaniego ENG

What does a ’typical’ analysis involve for you?
If there is one thing I’ve discovered, it’s the value of exporting data to Excel. The possibility of exporting all our analyses has allowed us to manage large amounts of data and draw numerical values, that explain what is happening on the court, which we complement with a video. 

This combination of statistical analysis and image is really the added value Nacsport offers me. I love the statistical element and probably don’t take advantage of 50% of the possibilities the software has. 

For me it is brilliant to click between actions, I work a lot with the matrix. But I also have to master the Timeline element, to import files from Instat and other data sources. 

This year I plan to learn how to use graphic panels because it’s another tool that offers a lot of information to me as a coach. I have to learn to use more of the tools within Nacsport.

Do you work in real time during games? If so, what kind of information do you share?
Joan Plaza (head coach at Zenit St-Petersburg) places great importance on training and my intention is to begin real-time analysis of practice sessions, working with an assistant to tag key actions for instant review.

Whether we meet our objectives I don’t know. But it is easier to begin with training rather than competitive matches.

How many people work on your analysis team? 
Right now there are 3 of us managing analytics. The Euroleague have also embedded a fourth assistant to work only on video analysis. We need someone like that in our team - the standard and level of competition demands more coaches working in analysis.

How is your work used? Do coaches use your presentations? 
My analytical process is very meticulous, everything the coach could possibly ask for must already be prepared and analyzed. 

With the amount of information we generate, we have to decide what we are going to feed on to the team. But presentation is delivered by the coach, using data we provide.

Typically my work is divided into 3 areas, images, accompanied by reports that explain what’s happening and raw statistical data. 

Do you focus on any particular areas of a game to analyse? And if so, which ones? Do you look at opposing teams?
In our first viewing, which can take up to 6 hours, we analyze everything. Systems, defenses, tactical situations, lineups on the court, how advantages are generated, etc. 

We try to let nothing escape us. Once we have the data we begin filtering it, trying to understand what happened, what we have to improve, what we could have done better, what we did well and so on.

The information has to generate knowledge. We try to cover everything and discover what has happened. Our goal is to improve with every game.

How do you think the team benefit from your work? Are there long term advantages for the club?
The perception we’ve noticed in St. Petersburg is a sense of surprise. That generated an initial shock, that turned to security when players realised we’re channeling everything positively.

We’re delivering information that can help them improve. The data we share helps in their process of growth as a player. In the long term, knowledge is the main value. Nacsport helps us achieve that knowledge.

Do you achieve your analytical objectives? 

Frustration does not frustrate me at all. It’s a part of the job. Creating a clear framework to work within is crucial.

We play a sport in which defeat exists, you know you are always going to lose some games. But with a defined structure in place you don’t have to question working methods. 

The winning team commit fewer mistakes. But all teams miss shots. They commit fouls and get turned over. It’s all an inherent part of our sport and we cannot deny that reality. 

Using a tool like Nacsport helps us reduce the number of mistakes we make and understand what leads to them.

Do you use other tools in your analyses or presentations?
My intention is to move our work to the Sharimg platform, because I think it's good to have everything integrated in a single place. 

Now that the team has better funding, I also want technical staff to start using Tag&view. I think it’s very important to adopt tools that help you work more efficiently. 

With Nacsport we’ve found a software that facilitates the work of our analysts, making their day to day tasks easier.

Do you use external data providers?
Yes, Instat and especially Sinergy.

How do you see the role of analyst developing in your sport?
There has always been a great appetite to analyze every area of our sport. 

But development can be hampered by the volume of matches teams play, although competition and that very concentration of games is forcing clubs to expand their analytical departments.

Most Euroleague teams have at least 4 people working on analytics. For me, that’s not enough. To analyse in depth we must increase the workforce. I don’t think 15 analysts in a team is too many.
   
Zenit basket

If you could add a new tool or feature to Nacsport, what would it be?
For the last 10-12 years, Nacsport have continually surprised me with their updates and I’ve noticed a huge change from the original tool.

The current version provides me with more than enough for my team to do their job.

Now I’ve seen the new LineUp feature I’m very happy. More automation makes our lives easier - that’s evolution. Constant development means giving us the tools to create everything we can imagine.

Again, I know the team at Nacsport are always striving to improve, building closer connections between observational activity and mathematical data. 

Personally speaking, I like adding voice notes and in general, I’m very happy with everything I have now. But like all analysts, I will always want it faster.

How do you find switching clubs and never staying too long in any one place?
When you have to change city often the ones who really suffer are your family.

From a professional point of view, I see my job as implanting methodology. Because my work is so detailed, it fits very well with every head coach.

My biggest challenge is training my assistants because I always have to teach them my methods when I arrive at a new club. 

Coaches allow me to propose a structure, I then have to train staff in that framework - which means they must work to meticulous standards - requiring a high degree of dedication and discipline they may not have experienced before.

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