The methods and technologies used in the analysis of sport performance have drastically changed since the early 2000s. These include the incorporation of new analytical frameworks and advanced statistical modeling, as well as GPS tracking, time-lapsed notational analysis software, and a wide range of tracking sensors and other tracking equipment. Pen and paper shorthand notes gave way to sophisticated computerized systems and technologies that now gather enormous volumes of performance-related data.

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The increasing worldwide viewership and ever-increasing revenue from media arrangements have led to a growth in attractive financial prospects in most major sports, which has naturally upped the stakes for success. As a result, in order to manage their organizations and develop their players, sports organizations are increasingly relying more on scientific, evidence-based strategies. The bar for success in elite sports is constantly rising, which puts pressure on teams, coaches, and players to create more effective training regimens, improve athlete development programs, and learn more about the elements that affect performance in important competitions.

The rise of Performance Analysis as a separate, multidisciplinary backroom function that specializes in the objective, and typically quantitative, evaluation of performance has been prompted by the highly competitive market with continuously diminishing margins. This relatively new discipline tries to assist coaches in determining which performance areas need to be addressed, assessing the efficacy of tactical and technical performance, and assessing the advantages and disadvantages of impending opponents. Its goal is to increase the understanding of coaches, players, and other pertinent stakeholders on a certain aspect of the sport by giving them correct, authentic information.

Sports performance analysis has historically been described as an observational analytic work that involves coaches, players, and analysts themselves and spans from data collection to feedback delivery with the goal of improving sports performance. Performance evaluations are conducted either in real time during competition or thereafter using recorded video and collected data. Performance analysts are becoming more common at stadiums. They may be seen using specialized software like SportsCode, Dartfish, or Nacsport to note events and actions during the game from either the coaching box or a separate good viewing area within the fans. During this process, they create statistical reports that coaches may see on their iPhones or iPads, providing them with a summary of important performance indicators and brief video feeds of important highlights. These reports can be provided in real-time to the coaches’ devices. On the other hand, post-match analysis has more time available, which permits a more thorough assessment of performance utilizing other supplementary data sources. Beyond the analyst’s observations, several sources of data may be used for post-match analysis. These sources include qualitative data, video clips, and even measures gathered by wearable devices that record an athlete’s effort, heart rate, blood lactate levels, acceleration, speed, and position. While some of this data will frequently come from inside the club, other sources—like Opta—are frequently used to supplement internal databases in a variety of sports. Analysis of training sessions is also done, with athletes being watched continuously to assist coaches plan the next session and provide information for debriefing sessions.

Additionally, the discipline’s research has developed into a distinct field of study. Currently, the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport publishes studies on a regular basis on important sports analysis research areas, including the identification of key performance indicators, the prevention of injuries through physical and work-rate analysis, movement analysis, the effectiveness of technique and tactics, normative profiling, overall match analysis, and even referee performance analysis.

Performance Analysis: A Separate Backroom Role

In many elite sports teams and organizations, performance analysis has become a key component of the extrinsic feedback process used by coaches to expedite learning and help players achieve their peak performance levels during the past 20 years. Since it has set itself apart from other sports science disciplines with its primary focus on quantitative performance evaluation, it is now regarded as having a distinct role within a team’s backroom staff. Nevertheless, because of its high degree of cross-functionality, it must continue to have close ties with other sports science disciplines. In order to inform player selection based on both performance measurements and player fitness, for example, a work-rate study conducted by a Strength & Conditioning department may be a useful addition to the work of a Performance Analyst team.

The Goal Of Performance Evaluation In Athletics

To enable coaches to quickly gain insight into areas that need their attention, a significant amount of quantitative and qualitative data generated from the intricate and dynamic situations in sport must be carefully distributed and presented. Clear visuals, such as tables, charts, or special-purpose diagrams of the playing surface, should be used in this process. Performance analysis improves the coach’s “feed-forward” capabilities. By conducting in-depth opposition analysis, it seeks to foresee an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and provide knowledge that enables the team to practice suitable plays and hone individual talents that will help them surpass the forthcoming opponent.

The insights gained by Performance Analysis studies, such as opposition analysis, assist coaches in selecting a team and making tactical decisions that best take advantage of an opponent’s flaws and counter their strengths. Historically, coaches who had played at the highest levels of the sport themselves or had years of expertise in the field made all of these judgments based on their collective understanding. But research has shown time and time again that coaches can only recall between 42% and 59% of the crucial moments that occur during a sporting game. Furthermore, due to innate defects in human perception and cognitive ability, recollections of events are prone to incompleteness, emotional bias, inaccuracy, and misunderstanding. Coaches have resorted to technology and analytics to compensate for these constraints in an increasingly competitive climate. This has allowed them to have rapid access to objective information about prior events as well as instant video footage to study specific occurrences they desire to recall and reevaluate. To take advantage of the vast amounts of information generated by their sport, top-tier coaches now have access to their own Performance Analysts departments, which equip them with the necessary skills for data collection, manipulation, analysis, and video analysis. These departments also ensure that the key elements that are most important to them are received in a clear, timely, and concise manner.