Football Performance Analysis Coach

Musi Matlaba
August 22, 2022

Football Performance Analysis Coach

Football clubs are employing data analysts to work in various roles that grow or maintain the club™s success and ultimately make money or save the club money. At the same time, the use of data and analytics is the buzzphrase in modern-day football circles.

For instance, sports such as the NBA, American football and the NFL, have long since collected and made use of data. So, if you follow these sports, you will certainly hear the analysts or commentators making reference to a player from the 1970s and highlighting their statistics.

In football, a select few clubs and countries in the developed world who were ahead of their time realised they could gain a competitive edge by collecting data and using it as a tool to improve their chances of winning. Now, by the mid-2000s, more teams were investing in analysis departments to improve performance and also modernise football.

Professional football is about winning. Winning is attractive and it attracts sponsors, fans and players alike. Clubs and coaches want to win and any tool that can improve the chances of winning is desirable.

The role and influence of the Analyst is hard to define, given that it can be as limited or as broad as the Head Coach allows it to be. One certainty of the role is that the Analyst is required to link statistical data with video data to identify the tiniest details that can assist in decision-making. Indeed, it is important to note that statistical data without context is useless. Video is an essential requirement to direct, support and also limit the use of data in match analysis.

In football, Data can be used for:

  • Analysing your own teams™ performances.
  • Creating benchmarks and norms for the team and individual players.
  • Data can also be used to analyse your opponent by understanding their style of play and what their team strengths and weaknesses are and their individual player™s strengths and weaknesses.

The role of data in football has grown exponentially, this is in a manner of wide collection and extensive use of data in the youth academy structures and all the way in the senior teams. In Europe and the USA, football academies monitor and track their players, from as young as 10 years old, throughout their entire academy careers.

Having databases that comprise: video data, physical data and technical data. These clubs fully understand the players they have, and whether they will keep them or sell them to other teams in the future. In South Africa, there are only a handful of clubs that have realised the importance of collecting and utilising this data.

The use of data can also influence the recruitment of talent to the club. For example, service providers such as InStat and StatsBomb have huge databases with players™ statistics for their entire professional careers. Now, these companies also compile league averages, team averages and players™ averages per position.

Therefore, teams are able to compare potential recruits with benchmarks they feel are of importance to their team and drastically improve their recruitment by focusing their attention on a refined group of potential players rather than having to unnecessarily monitor hundreds of players. This in turn should improve recruitment and save money as teams spend their money more wisely.

In recent times, players have started to realise the importance of data, especially when it comes time to renegotiate their contracts. To expand, players are able to show their influence and importance in the team statistically. Therefore, they negotiate from a position of power, and secure the best deals for themselves. Inversely, clubs can also use data to highlight a player™s decline or lack of importance and this can impact whether the club keeps the player or deems them surplus to requirements.

In brief, the extent to which data is used in a football club is dependent on the club, its importance can never be understated. Lastly, Data is a tool to achieve one outcome, WIN, whether it be on the field of play or in the bank balance.