Entitled ‘The Role of Performance Analysis in the Development of the College Game and Athlete’, the discussion featured a number of North America’s top college coaches and analysts including Anson Dorrance (UNC), Mike Jacobs (Evansville), Alan Kirkup (Florida), Marlon LeBlanc (WVU) and Jason Sisneros (UNC).
Giving insights into the ways in which they use performance analysis with their respective colleges, the coaches spoke about how data can be used to inform team strategy, support recruitment and aid player development.
For coaches at college level, Performance Analysis is an integral part of the player development process. With young players at a formative stage of their careers, making contextualised data accessible to them can be crucial in terms of sharing an understanding of their development and maximising their future chances of success.
Speaking about how performance analysis is used at UNC, Head Coach Anson Dorrance, winner of 21 NSCAA Division I Championships, said, “Jason [Sisneros] came in and took over our match analysis and I really liked what he did with it. What he did was to make it serviceable for the players[…]Data collection for us is a service to the players in training where we use it as a player development tool.”
Using historical analysis to understand critical moments in player lifecycles, it is possible to build better developmental models for the future. By engaging players with objective information, coaches can improve performance at an individual level and build towards a wider team vision.
Alan Kirkup, Assistant Coach at University of Florida, gave an example of how this works in practice, saying, “Each player is interested in talking about the demands for each position. We have a book we give our before the start of each season with a job description for each position.
“We also set goals. For example, pass completion goals, how many balls the fullbacks get into the box[…]All that’s done in pre-season so the players have targets and goals to meet during the season.”
The coaches also spoke about how access to detailed performance information helps them to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and adapt their strategies around the insights that are provided through contextualised data.
As Kirkup said, “[Last season] we felt that we didn’t score enough goals and we were a style over substance team. So we sent all our information over to Prozone and[…]we did a much better job when we looked at the stats that Prozone sent us.”
By studying the outputs of their players and similar teams around the world, coaches can see how effectively their team is fulfilling the tactical plans put in place during training.
“In the Champions League or Premier League, the teams that are continually successful are invariably the ones that play the fastest,” said Dorrance. “What was cool about the data [shared with UNC] was the number of touches. That’s our philosophy on the attack. We want to play the game so quickly that it’s going to take the other team out of their comfort zone.”
If the coaching staff are trying to get the team to play in a specific way, Prozone data enables them to see how efficient their players are across a large number of performance variables and identify areas that need improvement or adjustment.
In light of last Thursday’s MLS and NWSL drafts, there was discussion amongst the panellists around how performance analysis can help colleges to more accurately represent the abilities of their players to MLS scouts.
“Something that’s become more prevalent is MLS scouts wanting information on our individual players,” said Marlon LeBlanc, Head Coach of West Virginia University Men. “[…]When they watch a game they also like to see Prozone analysis of the game, and we’re able to provide them with more information on our players.”
Continually enhancing our recruitment consultancy capabilities, clubs at all levels of the game are turning to Prozone help their scouts and coaches to make better informed decisions by supplementing their natural intuition with objective information as part of the talent identification and player recruitment processes.
We’d like to thank all the panellists for taking the time to participate in the roundtable discussion and we look forward to returning to the NSCAA Convention next year.