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Analyst Spotlight - Mark Dunning

In our latest spotlight on the analyst we journey to the north of England and the fiercely competitive world of Rugby League, to meet Mark Dunning - Assistant Coach at the Bradford Bulls and an analyst with more than 7 years experience in the sport.

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How long have you been a coach?
I’ve been at Bradford Bulls now for 7 years. 

I began as a scholarship intern coach and started using performance analysis as a coach about 4 years ago, after becoming a more integral member of the department. 

At the time we had a head of analysis at the club and I started looking at how to use the software he was using, which at the time was SportsCode. 

I was beginning to familiarise myself with what analysis is and from there my analytical processes have continued to progress.

How did you hear about Nacsport?
We used Sportscode previously, then at one point we had Ste Mills (currently Head of Analysis with Castleford Tigers) come in to do some analysis for us, when we no longer had a permanent analyst. Ste was a big advocate of Nacsport and my first introduction to the software was by seeing what Ste could do with it.

What were some of the main reasons you chose Nacsport?
From a club point of view, it was probably the cost element that had a big impact. It was a very reasonable price and we were able to have a lifetime license which was also important. 

The license very clearly belongs to the club and can’t be taken back from us or taken away by any individual, so that stability with control and ownership of the license was key for us. 

Then when we spoke more with AnalysisPro and learned just what we could do with the software, we realised it performed well against all competitors, which helped cement our decision.
      
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When you first started, did you find Nacsport easy to use?
It’s like anything really. It was different from what we’d used before, so a change is always a challenge. 

We had gone from using just Macs to then using Bootcamp to run Nacsport on our Macs, before the club purchased some Windows laptops for us - thanks to the support of BullBuilder, the Bradford Bulls Supporters Trust. 

After that, we never looked back.

How is Nacsport used at the club from game to game?
We have an outside analyst who does all our 1st team analysis. 

So if the team play on a Sunday, I get the analysis files sent over to me first thing on Monday morning and we import this into our 4 new Nacsport Viewer machines at our Tong Training base, ready for the players to use for review by 11am on Monday morning. 

With that analysis, we do one-to-one individual reviews with every player in the 1st team to sit down and really scrutinise each involvement they’ve had within that game.

If one of the Academy teams plays, either the U19s or the U16s, we film their games and I analyse those through my Nacsport Scout Plus to code everything thing that they do in exactly the same format as the 1st team. ( You can learn more about Mark’s process and templates in this blog on the AnalysisPro  website.)

As a club, we’ve got a really smooth process of transition for the players. They know that if they are successful as an U16s Academy player they’ll earn an U19s Academy contract - and that the process of analysis and review isn’t going to change very much as they progress. 

It means they are also more confident with the process moving forward and know what they need to do themselves and what the team and the club need from them going forwards too.

In the same way that the 1st team can review the analysis we have provided, I put the Academy analysis onto the Nacsport Viewer machines so that we can give the players the freedom to view their games and analysis, make notes, ask questions and create presentation windows of their key clips to review too. 

With the younger Academy players, we normally get them into smaller groups to talk about what went right and what went wrong, and how we can be better.

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How do you and Leigh Beattie use your Nacsport Scout Plus licenses in relation to those presentation windows created by the players?
Well, we use our machines to code up the Academy games and bring together presentation windows for different elements. We have a team room where we can show Nacsport presentations. For the first team, we will do a preview of the opposition coming up that weekend too, then for all teams we do a review of the team performance and also reviews of individual performance.

We are giving the players plenty of information in these reviews, but also giving them the freedom to create their own presentations on the Nacsport Viewer machines so they can let us know the things they want to look at in more detail too. 

We’re coaches, not robots. So, everything that we say is what we think is relevant, but from a player’s perspective; he might see things differently. So if our players have the freedom to pick out the clips and show us what they think, it all makes for healthy debate and healthy improvement as a team.

What are the main areas that you focus your analysis on?
Our game plans can change week to week depending on our performance and the opposition, so our preview and review sessions need to adapt with that. 

If we’ve done something really well in the previous game or at training, we want to continue working on that so we’ll focus our analysis around that. If there has been something not working well, then we need to talk about that too. 

If there is an opponent coming up where we see major strengths or major faults, then we might work on something different too. 

So, we have a mix of things. It can be technical, tactical or any number of different things. A large proportion is just ensuring that we can be the best versions of ourselves on the day, as we can.

Would you say that helping your team to be the best version of themselves is the main benefit of performance analysis?
That’s a motto we use here at Bradford Bulls. 

We want everybody who comes into our system to be the best person and individual they possibly can be. That’s not saying that ‘Josh needs to be the best version of Mark Dunning’ for example. 

No, Josh needs to be the best version of himself that he can be and nobody else. If we can use video analysis to look at that and pick up on things up with our players that help them improve, then that’s great. It helps us to enable our individuals to become better.

How do you find using KlipDraw with your analysis?
When we use KlipDraw, the benefits of highlighting certain situations are enormous. 

We can really focus in on that message we are trying to get across and really add value to our message to the players. It’s a great tool.

What can you do now you are using Nacsport that you couldn’t do before?
I find Nacsport is a lot more time friendly, it certainly took us a lot longer to do things with Sportscode. 

Nacsport is very user-friendly and easy to transfer our work between staff. So I can do some analysis then transfer it to Leigh, Leigh can transfer what he does to John Kear (Head Coach Bradford Bulls), John to Garreth and so on. 

Being able to move our work around between the coaching staff and the players’ Nacsport Viewer machines is a massive advantage for us.

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How has the support from AnalysisPro helped you?
Absolutely massively. 

Without Josh, Dan and the support that we have had, we wouldn’t be using Nacsport as we do now. 

That’s the simple fact. The AnalysisPro team (Nacsport’s official partner in the UK and Ireland) are very approachable and great guys, so we can’t thank them enough.

How do you think performance analysis in Rugby League will change in the future?
The analysis side of the game always gives us the option to create new things and add to different elements (like game plans, set plays etc.). 

So as that continues to evolve and the game evolves, I can only see that progress and use of analysis continuing to grow.

If you could add one new feature to Nacsport, what would it be?
Good one! 

Umm, I really don’t know to be honest. Yeah, not sure on that one. 

Nacsport’s pretty comprehensive as it is and I’m very happy with how it’s going, so I’m happy enough just waiting to see what they add next.




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