Performance analysis is a scientific trend that aims to identify the factors that contribute to an athlete’s or team's performance. It's a multidisciplinary approach that seeks to optimise sports performance or at least better understand it. For many people, performance analysis is reduced to the statistical analysis of the game. According to Hughes and Bartlett (2002), performance analysis combines biomechanical analysis and notational analysis.The goal is to identify and analyse the components that contribute to achieving a sporting performance. In this article, we will focus on game analysis, which is one of the dimensions of performance analysis.
Game Analysis, a Real Scientific Field
Game analysis is a legitimate and growing scientific field. A good start would be to delve into the multiple publications by British and Irish researchers to gain a deeper understanding of this trend. In one of his books, Peter O'Donoghue (2010), a renowned researcher in this field, identifies several areas of observation intervention in the context of sports, including:
This approach focuses on studying the different movements made by an athlete during a match or training session. Data is collected to determine the types of movements, areas of action, or intensities of displacements produced during practice. This study is often conducted using specialised software and may be associated withGPS data, tracking data, or heart rate monitors.
This approach usually consists of a post-game analysis and can be performed on one's own team or players, or the opponents, to uncover flaws and develop a game plan. It seeks to identify major game trends and what actions or movements can be employed to limit or exploit weaknesses. Tactical analysis sometimes relates to measuring the outcome of actions to provide qualitative data.
Analysing Decision Making
In his book,O'Donoghue explains that the analysis of decision-making focuses on the choices made during the game by the players and referees. It seeks to identify recurring patterns and better understand what leads the game's actors to make certain decisions.
Technical analysis is interested in the biomechanical aspect of executing a technical action or comparing the effectiveness of one action relative to another. Its purpose is to determine the optimal action that leads the athlete to achieving peak performance. It can also be used to study the athlete's evolution in performing an action during their return from injury. We will often use the best players as a reference here.
This approach focuses on analysing the result of an action, a certain moment or the whole match. It can therefore be associated with each of the areas of analysis mentioned above.Most studies conducted in performance analysis seek to identify the indicators most related to performance. In these studies, this indicator is generally referred to as the “Performance Indicator”.
To analyse sports practices, it is necessary to define what we want to observe. Once the object of study has been defined, it is then necessary to determine the indicators on which we will focus. An indicator is a key element related to the game that provides information to the observer. Once defined, it is necessary to identify the criteria that will make it possible to qualify this indicator. Finally, for the results of the observation to be intelligible, it is important that these indicators make sense for all those concerned. The definition of indicators to analyse sport has become an important issue in performance analysis research. In the early 2000s, a concept of “performance indicators” seemed to gain consensus within the performance analysis community.This concept, developed by Hughes and Bartlett (2002), is defined as 'a selection or combination of action variables to define the performance of one or more aspects of the game' (pg. 739). According to the authors, there are two types of performance indicators. 'Points scored' indicators that will indicate the number of goals or points scored and qualitative performance indicators, which will quantify the number of occurrences for a given type of action such as passes or tackles made. These indicators can be derived from the scientific or specific literature, but they can also be defined by the researcher or analyst themselves. In this case, they must comply with certain rules to be considered reliable indicators. Indeed, O'Donoghue (2015) defines four main rules that differentiate the performance indicator from other analysis variables:
· It must represent a validated and important aspect of the sport analysed
· It must allow for an objective measurement process
· Its measurement scale must be known
· There must be a way to interpret the value of this indicator
Developing an objective measurement process for a performance indicator avoids disparities in results related to changing observers. It is then a question of specifying as precisely as possible the criteria that define the indicator to limit the differences in assessments by the various analysts.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
The concept of a key performance indicator is regularly used in studies seeking to determine performance profiles (Hughes et al., 2001; James et al., 2005). On the field, they are also cited by analysts, coaches or even recruiters as key elements to observe in the context of a practice or a specific context of the game (a set piece in football, exiting a ruck in rugby or as an important performance factor for a given position in player recruitment).
This would involve grouping several performance indicators by type (O'Donoghue, 2015). According to Hughes et al. (2001), these are performance indicators with a strong predictive power on final performance.
How to Use Video Analysis in the Field
Video analysis is becoming increasingly important in the daily lives of high-level staff, as well as those working at lower levels. Thanks to the evolution of federal training, those at lower levels are increasingly working to optimise the performance of their athletes. The opening of the market and the increase in the number of analysis software and video capture tools has led to easier and cheaper access. However, this can result in organisations seeking to equip themselves to match their competitors without necessarily being able to use these tools. For example, learning to use some video tools can take along time. In addition, it requires a certain mastery of analysis tools and a theoretical grounding in the overall training approach to provide applicable insights. We will try to make a statement of the different ways video can be used to improve the performance of athletes.
Using Video Before Training
The use of video before training allows players to prepare by focusing their attention on certain elements. This could be the tactical organisation that will be worked on during the session or a technical element that needs to be developed. The video tool will allow the player to focus their efforts in accordance with the performance criteria set by the coach.
Video During Training
Using video during training allows the coach to provide more precise feedback to their players. To do this, they can quickly pause the session to correct a specific element and support spoken feedback with images. They can also structure their training around a methodology called 'autoscopy' that will allow the player to see themselves on video immediately after an action and therefore better understand the reality of what they are doing.
Video After Training
Used less at the amateur level, player performances can be evaluated with video. This also allows them to better recall what happened and refocus on what coaching staff expect from them.
Video before the Match or Event
A pre-match or pre-event video is most often used in team sport, with the aim of focusing the attention of the players on the playing tendencies of their opponents. It is unlikely that we will learn to perform a technical action just before the match, so the focus is most often tactical. But once again it must be kept in mind that players cannot retain too much information before the match. The video will therefore essentially support the elements of the coach's pre-event speech with images.
Video During the Match or Event
During the game, in sports that allow it (due to regulations and organisational perspectives), the video will help the athletes better understand some key situations that have occurred so that they can more easily find the right tactical response if a certain situation arises.
Video after the Match or Event
In the form of a debrief, the post-match or post-competition video will take stock of the positive and negative points that have been noted and guide future training sessions in response to this.
Video Outside of Matches, Events or Training Sessions
Using video outside of matches or training will allow you to work in different ways. Firstly, when working with young audiences, video will help develop their knowledge and ability to read and understand different game situations. It will also allow the coach to associate visual cues and information with the semantics specific to their approach and desires to improve the athlete’s understanding of verbal instructions.Finally, from a collective point of view, using video allows players to improve their common reading of game situations and optimise their chances of providing a collective response.
This first part provided an opportunity to start a discussion around video analysis and the different ways it can be used. We reiterated the importance of identifying consensual performance indicators to increase the understanding and use of game analytics.Finally, we made a statement about the different ways in which the video can be used. In a future article, we will offer you a case study of a game analysis based on video analysis software accessible to amateur clubs.
For anyone interested in trying video analysis for themselves, our Basic Package is a great option.
You can read a second article by Olivier here: Observing and Analysing Sport Using Video Analysis Software
1. Bartlett, R. (2001). Performance analysis: can bringing together biomechanics and notational analysis benefit coaches? International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 1(1), 122-126.
2. Degrenne, O. (2019). Caractérisation des évolutions de jeu en volley-ball de haut-niveau : Étude comparative de trois compétitions internationales (Doctoral dissertation,Université Paris-Est).
3. Hughes, M. D., & Bartlett, R. M. (2002). The use of performance indicators in performance analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 20(10),739-754.
4. Hughes, M., Evans, S.,& Wells, J. (2001). Establishing normative profiles in performance analysis. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 1(1), 1-26.
5. James, N., Mellalieu, S., & Jones, N. (2005). The development of position-specific performance indicators in professional rugby union. Journal of sports sciences, 23(1), 63-72.
6. O’Donoghue, P. G.(2010). Research Methods for Sports Performance Analysis, London, UK: Routledge.
7. O’Donoghue, P. G.(2015) An Introduction to Performance Analysis of Sport, London: Routledge.