Match Analysis – Why Bother?
In order to affect our players through coaching, we must be able to give them detailed and accurate feedback of their performance. This accuracy enables us to challenge and improve our players in the right areas. The use of match analysis is what gives us this information. Whether you are a grassroots coach or a premier league manager, we all perform match analysis to some degree. While the premier league have a team of professionals with in-depth knowledge of the game coupled with state of the art technology, most coaches are limited to themselves or an assistant to gather information. Does this mean that teams at this level do not need or have a purpose for match analysis?
As a coach, we watch our team and scan the game for problems, weaknesses and strengths. This is often done sub-consciously as you watch and manifests itself in your half time team talk or through in-game instructions to your squad. These can be minor and major in nature, depending on your level of knowledge and your philosophy or coaching style. There are problems with this method of analysis and often potential solutions are missed or more importantly misdiagnosed. Human error can have a major effect on the quality of the information that is gathered, therefore not allowing us to provide true solutions to the problems. In order to improve the quality of this information, records of incidents within the game can be kept.
There are two kinds of analysis, subjective and objective. The former being the method used at every level of the game, as mentioned above. The coach themselves and what they see from the game and the players. The latter is objective, which uses facts to highlight certain elements of the game, which we can draw strengths, weaknesses and potential solutions. The information gathered by this type can be invaluable to a coach, highlighting areas that they may have missed, or even backing up their views with hard facts. In the heights of the premier league, they use video analysis for the same purpose, often using this to show the players themselves, helping to create a solution. The majority of top flight clubs also use ProZone, which gives them an in-depth number break down of the team and each player and their performance in a game. As a grassroots coach you can also collate some information, not to the extent of a professional team, but still important to the improvement of your side. This need not be complicated and does not have to be done every game or for the whole game, it can be used as another tool at your exposal, an extra assistant if you like.
Performing this analysis can be very beneficial to a coach and can be conducted personally or by an assistant, a competent substitute or parent. As a coach, you can define the parameters for which your team is assessed; it can be very general or specific and detailed. These parameters are often described as triggers. Once these are highlighted, a simple bar chart system can be used, with the analyser simply marking each time one of the triggers occurs. For example, the midfielder plays a pass to the forward in the attacking third; this is one of the triggers ‘enter the attacking third’. Every time this occurs, it is marked down. This will give the coach raw data, telling them how many times their team has managed to get the ball into the attacking third of the pitch. If the team are not achieving this enough times in a game, they need to work on forward passing along with forward runs to make and create space. This is a very general example but can very useful. If the coach wanted to be more specific, the triggers would be more detailed in nature to catch more information. For example, the midfielder plays the ball to the forward, they turn and shoot wide. The information collected can be recorded as a successful entry into attacking third, successful turn and shot at goal, but off target. Now you have really specific data, on what your team does well in a game. This can be turned into information to relay instantly to your team, or something for you to work on in training for the future. If the team have a large number of shots on goal that miss the target, then they may need to work on some finishing.
The outcome can be very positive for your team, with little effort. Remember that as the coach, you can set the parameters; you can have four things on the list or forty. How you use the information after it is collected is the most important. There are a few important points to remember with regards to objective match analysis. It is not the answer by itself; it must be coupled with the coach’s subjective views of the game and analysed accordingly. Consistency in collecting the data is important, if you are going to evaluate three games, make sure the same person does all three. This ensures that the information is consistent, as even these triggers can be taken differently by each person. What is deemed successful by one person may be perceived differently by another, so the coach must clarify this. The information gathered can be used for short term solutions within the game, altering the performance of the team immediately. These are often things which can be changed easily and may involve changing team shape or personnel. Other more technical problems must be looked at in the long term and planned for throughout your season. Read season planning. From the analysis the coach may find that their team may have problems entering the attacking third regularly. This may down to the quality of their passing, their pass selection or how they create space; the coach must identify what the specific problems are and implement solutions in training.
Evaluation is good practice in all areas of coaching and is vital here also. Match analysis allows you to evaluate how your training plan has affected your team over a period of time, supplying the coach with important feedback. Wherever possible, periodic analysis can be a very effective tool for the modern coach, as well as great motivation.
The picture shows both a simple analysis and a more advanced and detailed example.