Five steps to success in video analysis

28th August 2020

Video analysts often go unseen in sports organisations, but the work they do in the background is central to pre-match planning, post-match review, and the evolution of on-field strategy. 

Since launching Catapult Vision last year, we’ve been working alongside video analysts on a daily basis to understand the challenges and opportunities that they face in their roles, and how we can keep creating technologies that help to make their day-to-day tasks more efficient and impactful. 

This ebook outlines five basic areas that all video analysts should consider when establishing optimal processes and workflows within their organisation. 

If you’re new to video analysis, we hope you find this ebook helpful as you get used to the role and start to build new functions within your club. If you’re more experienced, hopefully, it acts as a bit of a refresher or even a reminder of just how far you’ve come.

Understand coaching needs

It’s no secret that different clubs have different working arrangements and levels of resources. For video analysis to make a genuine impact on your club, it’s important to get buy-in from coaching staff and understand their primary needs and communication methods. 

Before you start to develop your own analysis processes and workflows, it’s necessary to establish what the expectations of the coaching staff are with regard to video analysis. 

 

  • Do they expect pre- and post-match presentations? 
  • How quickly do they want projects to be turned around? 
  • What level of detail are they looking for? 
  • How much input do they want to have in the process? 

 

Once you’ve got answers to those questions it becomes easier to build a workflow that makes the most efficient use of your time while simultaneously delivering on the priorities of the coaching staff. Without this step, you risk reducing the impact of video analysis within the organisation by setting priorities that are not aligned to the club’s broader performance goals. 

The other piece of the puzzle is communication. By building a firm understanding of the way coaches like to communicate, you can start to tailor your analysis in a way that best gets your message across and feeds into their own areas of expertise. 

If a coach is an experienced user of video tools then they might be happy to talk in more technical language and potentially even take an active role in the day-to-day analysis. If they are less technically-minded or new to performance analysis then it might be best to simplify your delivery and present insights in a strictly tactical context. 

Taking the time to understand key coaching needs in the short-term can help to ensure that the work you do will be far more effective and impactful in the medium and long-term. By working to get coach buy-in you will improve the appreciation of video analysis throughout the organisation and establish optimal patterns of work and communication going forward. •

Focus on the areas where you can make the greatest impact

No matter what kind of organisation you work for, managing upwards can be a difficult and daunting thing to do. However, for video analysts, it is essential if you want others to have realistic expectations of your work and ensure that you are making the best use of your time. 

One of the best ways to achieve this is to identify the areas in which you can make the greatest impact on the organisation. However you think the club would be best served by video analysis, it’s down to you to identify your priorities and formally agree on them with the relevant stakeholders. 

Maybe you think that your role should be to upskill the coaches with regard to video and act as a facilitator for them to contribute to the analysis process. Alternatively, you might think that the club needs more leadership in that area and that it’s your role to step into the breach and establish best practices. Whatever your conclusion is, it’s essential that it is communicated and agreed with all relevant individuals. 

If you are regularly asked to do time-consuming tasks beyond the priorities that have been agreed, then don’t be afraid to push back and be clear that extra tasks will mean you have less time to meet those primary needs. It can also be useful to maintain an inquisitive mindset and be able to question the purpose of the work you are being asked to do if you feel that it is detracting from your key objectives. When done in the right spirit, this kind of attitude should open up positive discussions and engender greater respect between different roles and departments. Proactively holding yourself and others to account in that way should benefit the club in the long-run and ensure that you are maximising the impact of your role. 

Don’t be afraid to establish clear boundaries

If you’re the only video analyst at your club or part of a small analysis team, the pressures on your time can be huge. To stop yourself drowning under the sheer volume of work that you’re being asked to do, it’s important to establish clear boundaries to your role. 

As video analysts, we’ve all had those frustrating moments when we’ve been treated like members of the IT department and asked to fix the office printer just because we spend most of our time working with technology. Establishing boundaries means avoiding those kinds of situations and being clear about what you are and are not responsible for. After all, you’re employed to deliver meaningful analysis, not to be a glorified IT technician. 

Again, the ability to do this comes down to effective communication. By educating your colleagues about the power of video analysis, you can help them to reach a better appreciation of your role and the impact your work has. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, but taking the time to give people an insight into the video process can help to generate greater buy-in to analysis across the club and also open up discussions that help you to see things from different perspectives. 

Creating those channels of communication can make it easier to establish those clear boundaries that are necessary for you to do your job as effectively as possible. Once you have them in place you should find that you have more time to focus on the aspects of your job that make the biggest positive difference. • 

Ensure your athletes are engaged with video

A major challenge that faces all video analysts is ensuring that athletes are fully engaged with video. Recent research by Mark Copeland revealed that 20% of athletes are actually afraid of video analysis, so delivering information in a relevant, digestible, and constructive manner is paramount. 

An effective way to get your athletes on board with video is to communicate only the most necessary information. Studies suggest that our ability to retain information starts to decline after around 15 minutes, so keeping your presentations short and to the point is crucial if your messages are going to resonate. 

Drawing tools can also be an effective way to emphasise key points and make your presentations more appealing. Bringing analysis to life with extra layers of illustration, platforms like Catapult Vision have these tools built-in to make the annotation process as quick and easy as possible. 

If you do choose to use drawing tools in your presentations, it’s crucial to find a balance between impact and over-use. Used sparingly, annotations are a great way to highlight the most important technical and tactical points to your athletes. However, if used too frequently you run the risk of diluting the impact of your presentations and distracting rather than engaging your audience. 

Another way to engage athletes is by delivering information through the platforms and technologies they are most comfortable with. If your players are constantly on the team WhatsApp chat, then why not share analysis there or set up an analysis-specific group? If your club uses an athlete management app, then maybe that could become an outlet for video clips? Face-to-face presentations will always have a place, but it’s worth getting creative with ideas for additional communication. 

By understanding how your athletes learn and finding the optimal means of presenting your work, you can help to make video a part of your athletes’ daily routine. This process is crucial if you want to hold their attention and ensure that your analysis has a genuine impact on performance. 

Be prepared for every eventuality

As all video analysts know, there’s nothing worse than a camera going down just as you start filming a training session, or suffering an unforeseen technical error with a room full of athletes waiting for your presentation. We’ve all been there, but that doesn’t make those situations any easier when they arise! 

To keep those instances to a minimum, it’s essential to be prepared for every eventuality. In practice, this means everything from establishing robust workflows to making sure you’ve got a spare HDMI adaptor at the crucial moment. 

To make sure you’re ready for whatever video analysis can throw at you, here’s a short checklist of stuff it’s important to have to hand or be aware of whenever you’re filming, editing or presenting: 

Cameras and hardware 

It may seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but making sure your cameras and laptops are fully charged and in good working order before each game is essential if part of the video analysis process. It only takes a few moments and it might just save you an unwanted headache further down the line. 

Software 

Finding the video analysis software that fits best with your routine is essential. Does it streamline the tagging workflow? Are you able to use it offline when you’re travelling to and from games? Can you build presentations within the platform? Taking these things into consideration early on can save you a lot of time once the season begins. 

Video formats

Having good technical knowledge of video and understanding which formats work with which devices is obviously a big part of an analyst’s role. Getting caught out with formatting issues can be very frustrating, so make sure you’re across video resolution, codec, frame rate, and bitrate to avoid any potential problems and provide the most suitable solution for the situation. 

Logistical details

Making sure you’re across all the logistical details ahead of training and matches will give you peace of mind going into each session or game. If you’re on the road, do you know what facilities will be available when you present? How much time are you likely to have with the players and coaches to get your message across? Once you’ve established those details it becomes easier to adapt to the constraints of each situation. 

Adaptors and cables 

Working with video platforms and various technologies comes with a few complicating factors. One of those is the number of different cables and adaptors you need to have to hand. Wherever you’re working, be sure to have all the cables you might need and a ready supply of spares should you misplace any.