Tuesday, 27 November 2012

An Aspiring Performance Analyst's Journey


I haven't updated my website for a while. A combination of working within Performance Analysis and finding the time to sit down and write something for it is the excuse behind this! I want to keep my blog going and keep it informative and I’ve already got a few plans on things to write about and I'd already come up with the idea of doing a "performance analysts diary" a couple of months ago and a piece byRichard Hughes has spurred me on to continue with this.

This post got out of hand a little bit and turned out to be quite long so thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope to write more blog posts over the coming months. Any feedback is very welcome!

The Beginning 

Most people getting into Performance Analysis these days seem to follow a very structured path. University, Internship, then a paid role within a club.

When I went to University (I graduated in 2003) there was barely any concept of using performance analysis in football, indeed Prozone didn't start up as a company until 1999, which is when I started uni.

I did a Business Management degree and worked in accounts until 2007 when I decided this wasn't the career for me. I wanted to do something with sports that still suited my skills and after qualifying to FA Level 1, spending a year scouting for Barnsley FC's Academy and working with the Association of Football Statisticians on a voluntary basis I got a job working with Activity Sheffield, part of Sheffield City Council, as a Sports Project Officer. This department delivered sporting sessions to 5-18 year olds and 65+ across Sheffield. The role I was doing was essentially a reporting role. Over the 5 years I was with Activity Sheffield the role changed into a performance analysis role, working with systems to capture information and reporting on this information and using it to make strategic decisions.

A couple of years before I left I'd decided I wanted to pursue performance analysis as a career and around this time the role of the analyst was emerging within football. I'd heard a lot about Prozone as Brian Laws spoke very highly of this when he was Sheffield Wednesday manager and investigated how to get a career within this field. I did the Prozone Level 1 course in March 2011 at Derby University, using MatchViewer and learning how to use the software to it's full potential. It was a great experience and really confirmed my interest in pursuing this as a career.

I spent the next 6 months sending emails to the generic club email addresses asking for some voluntary work hoping to hear something back and got….nothing. This is the first major lesson I learned, you have to knock on a LOT of doors to get a job within football. The majority of the people in the country have some kind of passing interest and I'm sure most men would love to have a job working for a club. Unfortunately this means that jobs are either not advertised (a lot of clubs use headhunting for staff) or massively popular with hundreds of applicants.

One thing I did notice was that most jobs asked for a Sports Science degree, looks like my Business Management one wouldn't be much use!

I continued to keep my eye out but had been thinking for a few months about how to make myself stand out. I attended the Performance Analysis conference set up by Rob Carroll and the Video Analyst website at Loughborough in August 2011 and spoke to Paul Boanas of Prozone who was at the event. I mentioned to him that I was planning on producing my own report on a game and he said this was a great idea and told me about how a scout at Crystal Palace had done something similar, submitting it to Neil Warnock who immediately hired him.

So with renewed enthusiasm I began to plan how to produce the report and what it would contain. I chose the game I was going to focus on (Manchester United vs Manchester City at Old Trafford in the October) and worked extensively on this, doing my own coding, setting up spreadsheets to capture the information and editing the video I had recorded of the game to reflect my analysis.

The report was very weighty and again thanks to feedback from my Dad, my colleagues at work and once again Paul at Prozone, I streamlined the report into a piece of concise analysis. Next job was to shop this around.

One thing I had been doing in the time previously was building up my connections through LinkedIn and Twitter. Both of these are immensely powerful tools for networking. I'd never really been into the social media side of things before, I have a Facebook account but don't care at all what you're having for tea or where you're going on a night out! LinkedIn especially allowed me to focus on people with a similar job to what I wanted to do and make some valuable contacts within the industry.

Getting a Break

So I began to shop the report around to a selection of contacts at local clubs. I had worked out which clubs were within a reasonable commuting distance to my home in Sheffield and based it around this. Although a couple of people contacted me and gave me feedback, it was at Rotherham United where I got lucky.

I'd sent the report to Alasdair Lane, who was the Strength & Conditioning coach. He'd replied back to me and told me he would show it to Andy Scott, the manager at the time and see what he thought. He came back very quickly saying that Andy, who had used Amisco at Brentford in his previous role and was massively into this side of the game, liked what he saw and invited me in to come and meet with him the next day.

I went to the training ground to meet with them, unfortunately I didn't get to see Andy (he was signing a player, I suppose that takes priority!) but met with Al, Darren Patterson (the Assistant Manager) and some of the other coaches. They were very receptive to the report and gave me a couple of pointers on what they'd like to see included and what they weren't bothered about.

They asked me to go to the clubs next couple of games and produce a report and we'd take it from there.

The first game I went to was against Accrington Stanley on a Tuesday night at the beginning of February. Played at Don Valley, which is a terrible ground for football, it was absolutely freezing; something if you want to be a performance analyst you definitely need to get used to! Sitting from a high vantage point to get a good view of the game also usually means braving the elements!

I was introduced to the cameraman who was recording the game for Rotherham (he was actually employed by the BBC but provided copies of the DVD's he recorded to Rotherham as well) and spent some time chatting with him and also met the analyst for Accrington who I had actually been on the Prozone Level 1 course with. At the end of the game I collected the DVD from the cameraman and took it home to analyse.

Now, I'd been given no guidance on what Rotherham really wanted so I'd been left to my own devices to come up with something. I'd set up a few spreadsheets mainly based on Opta's information and what they provided through their Statszone app. Using this as a base and trying to tailor it to what I thought Andy would need while adding my own areas in took a lot of work to think about but I was pretty happy with what I had. I used the DVD to go back over the game (no software, just Excel and a DVD player at this point) and proceeded to record every action from the game on individual basis for the Rotherham players and as a team for Accrington (for comparison purposes). It was very time consuming (bearing in mind I was doing this on top of my full time job) but when it had all been pulled together by the Thursday and sent through to Al to pass on the feedback I got was very positive!! Apparently it was everything they had been looking for and more besides.

This spurred me on to make the process as streamlined as possible and through discussions with Al about what the gaffer used it for and what use they could get out of it the time it took to produce reduced as the games went on.

Getting into the middle of March Andy asked me to come in for a meeting at the training ground. I was looking forward to meeting him properly rather than communicating via his staff and hopeful of I could get a better idea of what he wanted from the reports. Alasdair had spoken to me and said that they were looking into using a proper performance analysis system from next season called Vis.Track so I’d done a bit of research into it and was prepared with my latest reports as I went to meet him. The meeting went even better than I expected. He said he was very impressed with the work I’d been doing, Alasdair had bigged me up a lot to him about the type of guy I was and we spoke about the different aspects of Performance Analysis as well as what he did and didn’t want in the reports and what he was getting out of them. He was impressed with the level of detail I was providing given that all I was using was a DVD of the game and Excel! He said that they’d set some money aside for next season to use an analysis system and he’d like me to be in charge of it! I was ecstatic! I was thinking this would finally be my break!

I went away for the weekend for my wife’s birthday and when I went back into work at the council I was buzzing and was telling my friends how well it went. Then on the way home I was checking Twitter and I got some bad news. Andy Scott had been sacked!! I was devastated!! I quickly text Al and he said that he didn’t know what would happen now, not just with the work I’d been doing but also with their jobs. As much as I wanted to get into the business I felt incredibly for Al, he’d moved up to Sheffield less than a year previously as he’d worked with Andy at Brentford so for him to now get the sack must have been incredibly worrying for him.

Darren Pattison took over as caretaker manager. He was a sound guy, knew about performance analysis and I agreed to continue doing the reports, even if it was just for experience rather than it leading anywhere. Patto had a good run, although it could be argued that it was an easier run of games and Rotherham got within sniffing distance of the play offs, then some more bad news. I’d been checking Rotherham Mad, the fansite, to see who the favourite was to take over. Lee Clark, Brian Laws, Mark Robins even Mick McCarthy were all mentioned and I knew all of them had used performance analysis before to varying extents. Then Steve Evans got the job. Without wanting to say too much, in my opinion he’s one step above a pub team manager and Rotherham deserved better. I spoke to Al and asked him the situation and he said they would see how they went but it was quickly clear that he wouldn’t be staying there and a week before the end of the season he was told he wouldn’t be kept on (he’s since got a job as Head of Sports Science at Oxford United and is loving it, I couldn’t be happier for him, he’s a genuinely decent guy and the time I got to work with him was brilliant). I tried to get in touch with Steve, sending my reports by email, mailed it including a DVD highlighting the points I was making and even rung to try and speak to him and never even got a response from him or Paul Raynor, his assistant. To say I was annoyed not to even get an email back saying he wasn’t interested is an understatement after the work I’d put in over the previous 6 months.

Bouncing Back

But I moved on. I did my Prozone Level 3 course, completing the qualification to the highest level, which only 10 other people in the country can claim (only 2 of which have a paid job within performance analysis from what I can gather – very disappointing) but it gave me a greater resolve to continue looking for jobs over the summer.

Early on in the summer I heard back from a casual job I had applied for with Onside Analysis. Rob Esteva and David Hastie had recently started up the company with a view to expanding into bespoke analysis for football clubs. I met with Rob and was very, very impressed with what they were intending to do. Within a few weeks they had provided templates and DVD’s for me to analyse on games from around the world. This was great to work on games from different leagues (I covered MLS, Norwegian Tippeligean and the Euro U17 Championships). More recently this role has evolved to collecting information on a specific league (in my case League 2) to provide analysis of particular managers (if you get chance have a look at the prospective work that can be done on the website – it’s ahead of it’s time in my opinion and something that I think could take off in a big way)

I continued looking for a full time Performance Analysis role and got a few knock backs (including a business analyst job at Derby which combined my work at Sheffield Council with a performance analyst role I would have been perfect for – I didn’t even get an interview and later found out they had given the job to somebody who’d been working as a physio for 6 months!). It seemed almost all jobs require a Sports Science degree. I’m gonna save this blog post for another day but not having this degree was definitely holding me back so I applied to do one through Distance Learning at Manchester Metropolitan University. To get an unconditional offer was fantastic and I knew I would be on the right path. Unfortunately I didn’t think I would get half as much problems with Student Finance England. After speaking to somebody on the phone that told me they couldn’t see it being a problem that I’d already taken out a student loan as I’d been paying it back (every month for 8 years!) I applied only to be refused on the grounds I’d already got a degree in “a related subject”. That’s the related subject to Sports Science of Business Management! I didn’t even get a reply to the 2 appeal letters I have sent and found Student Finance England to be one of the most appalling sets of customer service I’ve ever had to deal with.

Despite this, I finally got another job, an internship with Coventry City Ladies.

I’d seen the job advertised on UK Sport and applied the day before the closing date. The manager, Paul Cudby, rang me a couple of hours after I’d put my application in informing me they wanted to take me on and given my experience that they wanted to change what they’d been looking for previously.

Initially they wanted 1 analyst to see how it went. With the applications they’d received, he now wanted me to lead a team of analysts. This was great news! Coventry was probably at the edge of where it was reasonable for me to commute to (around hour and a half drive from Sheffield) but hopefully this would also show my ambition and was a great opportunity to be in charge of other analysts and pick things up from them as well as be able to pass on things I had learnt through my previous work.

I went down to meet Paul and the rest of the team for a preseason friendly and he told me there would be 5 other analysts working under me. From first impressions I could tell we would have a great working relationship, he’s very bright and switched on to all aspects of management and I honestly think he could go as far as he wanted within football.

Before the first league game of the season I met up with the other analysts at a preseason friendly. I’d already spent around 3 weeks working on the things I wanted to work on for the club. With there being 6 of us it gave a lot of scope for doing a fair bit of work and despite not having any money for systems (despite being as progressive as they are as a club, there is no money within the women’s game and even less within the FA Women’s Premier League than in the Women’s Super League) it provided the opportunity to start from scratch and use my own initiative to build the Performance Analysis function.

For the first few games we captured the play from 3 different cameras (one showing the full game, one showing set pieces and one specifically for the goalkeeper), as we went along it became unnecessary to have all three and we went to 2 and then to 1 as we could capture almost all the footage needed.

There were several minor problems to overcome early on, from people not having enough battery on their cameras to record a full match (we had to provide our own as the club didn’t have the funds for one) to struggling to upload the footage. I’d intended to use Dropbox and each person who’d recorded the game would upload to there so everybody could work remotely and have access to the same footage. Unfortunately Dropbox didn’t meet our needs for this and wasn’t a reliable solution in the end so we used an FTP server. At first I had no idea how to use this but with a great deal of help from Shaun Green, who was the clubs Goalkeeper coach, we managed to get it sorted.

Working with the club was a great experience. What we were providing evolved rapidly to suit the needs of the management team and in a short space of time we managed to make ourselves very valuable and greatly respected by the coaching staff and players.

Within this time we went from providing key stats, to pass completion percentages, shot analysis, goalkeeper analysis, set piece analysis, attacking 1/3 analysis, possession/loss regains, specific player analysis to help with movement and confidence, team motivational videos and opposition analysis. I still had bigger plans after talking to Paul and had begun to use specific performance analysis software, LongoMatch (everything previously had been done via Excel, PowerPoint and iMovie) along with in game feedback and more comprehensive looks at things like trend information. It was all going very, very well and then I got another opportunity.

New Beginnings

I’d been speaking to Barnsley and an opportunity came up within the Performance Analysis department within the Academy. I went for an interview, which went well, and I knew I’d got a good chance of getting it but had to weigh up the pros and cons. I’d be a smaller cog at Barnsley and wouldn’t get the opportunity to get anywhere near as much wide ranging experience, but it was within a professional club, which looked much better and meant I can learn more from professional coaches.

I ended up taking the job. While it’s been quite a slow start, I am enjoying it. I still feel I can put my own stamp on things and the areas I can bring my expertise to they aren’t using at the moment so I can provide things they want. Part of the clubs philosophy is on playing through the thirds and keeping possession, so whilst the hot topic of possession might not be a game winning stat, for the development of young players it holds significant importance. The way this had been captured previously didn’t look right to me so I’ve done some work on making a way to record this figure. I’ve also done some work on passing under/over 15 yards as short passing is encouraged within the clubs style of play.

I’ve had the opportunity to work more with Sportscode GameBreaker and learn from some of the Under 18’s coaches who have been around the professional scene for a while and I hope the role turns into something I can really get my teeth into. I don’t want to be a performance analyst because I expect to get paid millions or because it’s a great skive from my 9-5 job I work within Sheffield Council but because it’s something I am passionate about, I’m good at and can make a difference by doing.

I’ve hit many obstacles already in my goal and I expect there will be more but I’ve had some great opportunities and some great experiences and I hope there are also many more of these to come too. Hard work does pay off and I hope to update my blog much more in the future with a variety of topics and hopefully to update you on how things are going at Barnsley!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this; it got quite long in the end!!

39 comments:

  1. Long read yes, but so worth it! It is very encouraging to read how hard you have worked to get where you are now and I sincerely hope that something very interesting will pop up in the near future.

    At the moment my day-time job takes to much time and energy, but if and when I decide to try to take the step into sports (football) I will think of this post. Great read!

    A question just of curiosity, approximately how many hours did you spend on the Man Utd - Man City game?

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read Martin, completely agree about the hard work required, hopefully my commitment and dedication to doing this on top of my full time job will stand out if it's a close contest between me and somebody else!

      To be honest as the report I did was the first time I'd had a serious go at recording all the stats etc I'd estimate it was something like, 2 hours to watch the match initially in real time and make some notes, another 2 hours to pull the skeleton of the report together, then I rewatched the game and did the notation of all passes by hand this took around 4-5 hours, then putting all these together into the report and then rewriting so it was in a cohesive format. Once that was done I got feedback from a few people and decided to rewrite the report as bullet points instead of text to make it easier to pick out the necessary bits.
      I'd estimate from initial idea, putting the frame together to the final finished product between 18-20 hours, but if I was doing it again now with the experience I've picked up since, I could cut that down considerably to a manageble amount (maybe 5-6 hours?) Difficult to say but the report was done to show everything so I crammed a lot in, looking back I'd now say it was probably too much!!

      I've made it available on my LinkedIn profile if you're ever interested in having a look at it!

      http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=101315650&trk=tab_pro

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    2. Thanks for your answer! Well, many hours as I expected :) I will take a look at the report when I have time. Now I really have to go to bed...

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    3. Thanks Dave, just what I have been trailing the internet for aka performance analysis insights. I am about to book my place on the Prozone Level 1 course and wanted to find out some opinion of its worth first so this has encouraged me. I also related to this article as you stated you has a Business Management degree just as I did also. I have thought not having the Sport Science degree would hold me back. I did however complete a joint honours degree at the same time with a another university in Sport Studies. This involved coaching and study of sports bodies and the infrastructures mainly. I made friends with sport science students and did a module in sport science also and some volunteer work for their projects in the labs so I hope I can use this in future rather than do another degree. Most of the information needed is in books and on the internet now. Education is readily available for free for those with the time to read. I have through family a lot of access to nutritional study as they are a freelance nutritionist. I have learnt all they have to know just without the piece of paper to say I have, so I hope I can use that knowledge and apply it one day. Thanks for your blog, keep it up!!

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    4. Thanks for your comments Justin. If you are looking to get into Performance Analysis I think it would be best for you to dress up the Sports Science elements of your degree as much as you can. Clubs are still intent on looking for Sports Science degrees even though in my experience you will get more practical use from your Business Management degree. In answer to your other question, the Prozone courses are great. However they are pretty pricey and solely cover the use of their software. There is no training on "how" to be a performance analyst and most advertised jobs won't use Prozone. For example, a lot of clubs advertise jobs at Academy level and I've found a lot of clubs that use it at first team level don't have the same facilities at Academy. If you can afford the courses I would say do them, but don't think by doing them you will instantly find a job in Performance Analysis, there are many thinking the same thing and the competition is very fierce!!

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    5. Hi Dave,
      I'm currently 17 years old thinking what to do for future jobs. Sports analysis really appeals to me and I've looked at courses at university for the future.
      Just wondering is it worth doing a course or is there other ways, and how do you acquire the key statistics, like do you note down each individual pass when you was starting up.
      Thanks for reading

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    6. Hi Luke

      Thanks for reading.

      I won't lie to you it's a long and very hard path becoming a Performance Analyst. As I've mentioned the amount of people becoming interested is increasing a lot more than the amount of available jobs and the pay is not good, especially when first starting out but if it's something you think you'll enjoy and you're determined to succeed then go for it!
      I would recommend doing a Sports course at university (Performance Analysis specific or Sports Science as a general and wider introduction - see The Video Analyst website for a comprehensive list of courses - http://thevideoanalyst.com/list-of-courses-teaching-performance-analysis-in-sport/) I don't necessarily think the Sports Science ones are the best and most appropriate but at the moment they are definitely what clubs look for. This may change as the analytic side develops but this will be a longer term advancement rather than something that will have happened by the start of next season!
      In terms of key statistics, it is a case of noting down each individual action (notational analysis) and is very long winded but this is what you'll spend the majority of your time doing when you first start working for a club - you have to get the initial data somehow!

      Thanks
      Dave

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    7. Hi Dave,
      Thanks alot for that website it looks really useful especially helping me for the near future. As you mentioned on your blog about Linkedin being an effective way to find contacts, i went on it to find the nearest sports analysis to me at a pro club which would be wolves, i found phil boardman whose the match analyst there but i have no way of contacting him because you need to know the persons email. any help would be much appreciated and if you know any other analyst emails would also be appreciated.
      thankyou for reading
      Luke

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    8. Hi Luke

      As you've said the best thing is LinkedIn. If you join and then request a connection with somebody (for example Phil) you can then send him a message through the site.
      Bear in mind though that they will receive hundreds of similar emails so make yours stand out rather than just asking for a job!
      Thanks
      Dave

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    9. Thankyou very much Dave you've helped alot, how do you acquire all the emails for all the different clubs to send a email asking if there's any chance you can get experience is there a website with them all there or is it just you know people?
      Thanks Luke

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    10. It's just knowing people and making connections. LinkedIn will help a lot but bear in mind if you send 100 emails asking for work experience you might get 99 people who don't respond and 1 who says no!

      Cheers
      Dave

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    11. Thanks Dave, one more quick question where or how do you acquire the matches to analyse like in another blog you stated you downloaded a celta vigo-athletic Bilbao game

      Cheers Luke

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  3. Dave

    I really enjoyed reading your account. I imagine writing it was exhausting ... there is so much reflection within the post. I am delighted you persevered. Many of us who have been on a similar journey applaud your tenacity and resilience.

    I have linked to your post in the Wrap for Day 26 at #OAPS101.

    Best wishes

    Keith

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  4. Dave

    It is a long read but I have read it all. Your journey is really amazing. I agree that there is no much paid job opportunities in Performance analysis industry (P.S. I am working for Aldershot Town FC as intern, not getting paid). I want to be a performance analyst so I will keep going even it is going to be a tough career path.
    I had done Prozone Level 1 and 2 but I wonder I should take level 3 or not because it costed me £500 at least (including accommodation and transport). What is the level 3 about? Do you think many football clubs would need the knowledge of level 3? Because I think most of the clubs would only need Matchviewer (level 1) and Prozone3 (level 2) only. I would appreciate if you could give me some suggestions.

    Thanks,

    Leo

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    1. Hi Leo, thanks for connecting through LinkedIn, I will reply to your questions by email when I get chance if that's OK.

      Cheers
      Dave

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    2. Hi Its a shame you didn't answer Leo Chan on here haha, he has the exact same questions as I did, I was gutted to see you were replying by email. I don't fancy completing three levels of a course that might just be out to make a quick buck.

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  5. Really interesting article Dave, it was so interesting I actually read it all in one go! :)

    It helps encourage me and show others like me who are aspiring PA's that it can be done, if you are willing to put the work in and not get discouraged by all the knock backs.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write it all out, much appreciated.

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  6. Hi Dave,

    I found this to be an inspiring read, so thanks for giving me the belief I needed to try to get into the performance analysis field. My degree is in computing and I've been working for several years as a data analyst. Its always been a dream to work in football and its great to hear that if you work hard enough its possible!

    Looking forward to reading your report on Man City vs Man United, and hope to reduce a report of my own based on this year's FA Cup final. I've also booked a place on the Prozone Level 1 training course.

    Genuinely hope things are still going well for you and that you are enjoying it as much as is coming across in this article.

    Thanks,
    Shaun

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    1. Hi Shaun

      Glad you enjoyed the read, anything is possible if you work hard enough! The hardest part is getting opportunities in the first place but if you stick with it you'll end up with a career that you enjoy doing every day.

      The Man City/Man Utd report is available on my LinkedIn page for download (got to say I have come on a lot since then and looking back it is very rough around the edges although still pleasing for a first attempt!)

      I really do enjoy the career, the hardest thing is finding paid work. Clubs are very happy to take on unpaid interns either via placements from universities or by exploiting people desperate to get a foothold in the industry. Universities are producing more and more talented analysts and unfortunately there are now a lot more analysts than jobs available!

      Glad I have inspired you, feel free to contact me for any advice you need and keep me up to date of how you are getting on

      Thanks again
      Dave

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    2. Hi Dave (and Shaun) if you're about...

      Where do you think the role of the actual data analysis stands in the whole performance analysis process. For example how do you think a person with a predominantly data/stats background would go in the field of performance analysis given their knowledge of the chosen sport may not be as intimate as someone who has played the game as a kid or coached it for example ?

      I ask as I find the stats side of it really interesting, and once I discovered something such as performance analysis existed I was keen to pursue it and find out more. I am studying a mixture of stats and sports science at university as where I live there are no performance analysis courses at the universities or training programs such as the Prozone one...well to the best if my knowledge anyway .....(I'm in the southern hemisphere in a rugby mad country).

      I have downloaded Longomatch and was thinking of filming some local football games and do some mock reports for a few games and then going from there , but to be honest I'm unsure where to start as I'm realy intimate with the game . I have had a look around on websites and got some idea of basic stats coaches may look at but other than that it feels like a step in the wide wide unknown....although I guess that may be positive in that I can't go too wrong.

      If you had any tips or advice I'd be keen to hear.

      Anyway, the blog is great and full of useful info . Keep it up and I look forward to reading more.

      thanks

      Lai

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    3. Hi Lai

      I've got to say, data analysis isn't used anywhere nearly as extensively as it could/should be. Football is a funny game to analyse, just take how much everybody reads into possession when it is in effect a 'meaningless' stat. You could have 90% possession but if it's all in your own half you aren't going to win! I think it's more likely to be used by analysis companies (such as betting companies - Football Radar is the main one always advertising for jobs) but I think it's still necessary to have an interest in the sport. For example, my skills are transferrable to other sports which use performance analysis such as rugby, however I don't follow the sport and am not that interested in working in it (but it's always important to keep an eye on what techniques other sports employ)
      I'm similar to you in that I enjoy the stats and there are so many produced these days that I think this side of it will become huge in the next 5-10 years but how long that takes to manifest in clubs is debateable.

      Longomatch is excellent free software, unfortunately it doesn't currently produce any statistics (I think this is something they are working on) but have a play around with it, like you say initially you can't go wrong! Also every manager wants something different so where one manager may focus on passing another may look at the shape of their defence/midfield units.

      Glad you're enjoying the blog, hope it's been of some use!

      Thanks
      Dave

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  7. Hi there Dave, great read and ver inspiring. Is there any other way I could gain access to your Man City vs Man United report as I do not have linkedin yet find this very intriguing. Let me know! Thanks, Ben

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    1. Hi Ben

      Thanks for the comments, the report is available at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9JJY3ZxeC41bzF2TlNCR25tU0E/edit?usp=sharing

      I'd recommend joining LinkedIn though, it's invaluable for making contacts that are otherwise out of reach.

      Thanks
      Dave

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  8. Hi Dave,

    Great read was extremely helpful. I'm currently at university doing a International football business management degree, and football analysis is something I've been interested in getting involved in, how long would you say it would take me to get involved in the industry?

    Thanks,
    Kel

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    1. Hi Kel

      Glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately football is an extremely hard business to get into no matter the field and is still a lot more about who you know than what you know! Depending on how you mean by getting involved in the industy, unpaid internships are still offered by many clubs (although these are generally focused as placements through the universities) but paid jobs are few and far between. It is possible though, as long as you have the desire and are willing to put in a lot of hard work for seemingly little return in the early days I'm sure you'll get a break!

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  9. Hi Dave

    Great article, very insightful. Performance analysis seems to be an industry which is growing at the moment and seems to be something that will continue to grow as clubs attach more emphasis to it. As someone who has a few sport based qualifications (coaching, and a sport management degree) I was wondering what the pay is like for a full time analyst at a top professional club in the premiership/championship? I've seen very few jobs like this advertised and the ones I have noticed have either been internships or unpaid roles which I think is a bit of a cop out considering how much revenue clubs generate and how valuable effective analysis can be! I am considering doing my prozone analysis level 1-3 but am conscious that I shell out a lot of money to do these courses and the paid opportunities are very limited and potentially not very well paid.

    Thanks
    Tom

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    1. Hi Tom

      Glad you liked the blog. Hopefully provides an insight into what the industry holds for many people!

      I’m unsure on the exact pay that analysts get, many posts start as internships offering only expenses, the next step up seems to be in the region of £14k - £18k. For a full time analyst for the first team it seems to be between £18k-£22k and for a head of analysis or someone in a position of more responsibility you’re looking along the lines of anything up to about £35k.

      This is all speculation though!! All this is just from what I have picked up, most clubs tend not to directly advertise jobs and very rarely give the salary details.

      One thing I will say, if you’re looking into getting into the industry purely for a high paying job – look elsewhere! There are plenty of fields that require similar skill sets where the pay is higher and the hours are less!!

      The Prozone courses are pretty expensive but they are high quality. Just don’t think that by completing these you’ll walk straight into a job!! The courses are more around the intricacies of the system and while they do cover some basics of Performance Analysis it’s important to have some knowledge before you attend to get the most out of them!

      Hope this has been helpful!!

      Thanks
      Dave

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  10. Hi Dave, fantastic read!

    I'm currently completing the 3rd year of a sports science degree, and also working an internship alongside the performance analyst at York City, (working with both the first team and academy teams).

    I was just wondering whether you consider coaching qualifications to be a must, and if so to what level?

    Also, in your experience, how many performance analysts would you say are employed by a club? (Obviously it will vary depending on the level and budget of the club, but for say league 2 - league 1, and champ-prem)?

    Cheers, Alex

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    1. Hi Alex

      Thanks for your comments.

      Personally I don't consider coaching qualification to be a must - I think they are useful and this is some crossover to a certain level but unless you have a major interest in coaching the 2 disciplines split after around Level 2 and you should specialise in whichever field you prefer. While you need to have a good understanding of how what you provide as a PA can be used by the coaching team, it is unlikely to be your job to specify how to improve in these areas.

      This all depends on the clubs and person hiring though - some look for different qualifications and many clubs don't REALLY know what they are looking for. For example many want a person with a Sports Science degree but is this necessary when all that is covered in terms of PA is usually 1 optional module? I think that's probably best for another discussion!!

      Again, in terms of analysts, just in my experience:-

      Prem - between 4 - 12 (mix of FT/PT and 1st Team/Academy)
      Champ - Between 2-5 (mix of FT/PT/Interns & 1st Team/Academy)
      L1 - Between 0-3 (usually 1 FT + Interns - again split)
      L2 - Between 0-2 (usually 1 FT or PT may cover both with an intern)

      These are estimates and will depend on the management structure and how much emphasis they put on PA along with the budget

      The problem is that while PA is certainly growing in clubs, the number or potentially employees being spit out by universities from degree programmes FAR outweighs this by probably 100's to 1.

      Thanks again for reading and best of luck!

      Cheers
      Dave

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  11. Thanks for your reply Dave... I will have to try and make a good impression in my time on the internship in a hope to get offered something after, even though I'm not sure they are looking at employing anyone else afterwards!

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  12. One more question! What do PA's do during the off season? Is it a case of not a lot, or analysing potential signings ect?
    Cheers

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    1. Depends on the club - with so many clubs having interns these tend to end at the end of one season and they take new ones on for the start of the new season.

      Other than that it could be setting up new systems, making sure everything is in place for the new season, scouting, working with the manager on potential transfers - depends on the individual club. Some of the Premier League clubs are likely to work around the major International tournaments for example when they happen.

      For a good example at lower level Mike Haines is the analyst at Fleetwood and he has a very interesting blog which is worth a read (http://mikehainesperformance.wordpress.com)

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  13. Hi, firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to compile this report. Not many Analysts take the time to go into their path into the role like the way you have done in detail. I am 19 and I was planning to go to University next September to partake in a sports course that has performance analyst modules. However I recognise although degrees are sought after it doesn't always pay off and you are left off with a debt of £27,000+ and no job. I am hungry to do this and I'm not too concerned about the debt, however I wanted to ask from someone who has made it, is this the most beneficial route into PA? I know you mentioned that you had trouble at the beginning of your journey.

    Thanks again, I would really appreciate it if you could get back to me.

    Kind Regards,
    Dale

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    1. Hi Dale

      At the minute without doubt it is almost essential to do a degree related to some kind of Sports path if you want to be a performance analyst. I'm hoping in future this will change slightly, as the degrees currently on offer rarely fit what an analyst will do on a day to day basis and often focus on other areas of sports such as physiology, coaching etc etc rather than PA. If you are definitely set on this being your career path there are some performance analysis specific courses which you would be better looking at, Cardiff for example do one and I'm sure a few other places.

      In future clubs will start looking for other things, such as Statistics qualifications, economics, programming etc, many American sports already employ analysts with these skills and it will become more prevalent in England in future. At the minute an analyst tends to do more video clipping than they do actual performance work - but I suppose that depends on your definition of performance!

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog

      Cheers
      Dave

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  14. Hi Dave,

    Just wanted to know that other than Prozone, what are the other courses that can be done to take a step into performance analysis? Also, what are latest softwares that you guys use?

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    1. Hi Joel

      Other direct Performance Analysis courses are quite limited (other than those offered by Unis). Crucial to know as well that Prozone focus specifically on how to use their tech rather than how to be a performance analyst. I know of a course offered by Lear Sports (http://www.learsports.com/#!copy-of-sport-performance/c4zn) but I haven't been on it so can't speak to it's value. You could also try things like Coursera - an online university which offers courses in things like Statistics which will be very useful in the future for things like Technical Analysts. We use out own bespoke software but it's good to be up to speed on things like Sportscode which is used heavily in clubs - if you haven't seen it before try LongoMatch which is similar style tagging software but is free to download. It's also useful to be very good with Excel - the main thing to remember is that it is your skills as an analyst which are key rather than what you have been taught in most cases, try developing your own reports and video feedback on a game as an example.

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  15. Hi Dave,
    I am considering career options after graduating with a maths degree but my main passion in life is football. Performance analysis appeals to me, i was wondering if you could provide more details as to how you analysed games just using excel. I would like to try it out of curiosity and see whether this is something that i want to pursue.
    Thanks,
    Sophie

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    1. Hi Sophie
      To be honest things have moved on quite a way since I initially started doing my own analysis in Excel. While it's still an incredibly useful tool I was using it for notational purposes and then to design a few charts/graphs. These days you can use things like Dartfish Easytag (free to download on ipad/iphone) to do notation and sites such as Sqwuaka and WhoScored have a wealth of already available information, so Excel is more useful for actually analysing the data where before I was using it to collect it.
      I would recommend reading this by Rob Carroll (The Video Analyst) if you haven't already as it gives a very good insight into what it's like being a Performance Analyst and trying to get a job in the industry (http://thevideoanalyst.com/want-performance-analyst/)

      Cheers!
      Dave

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