Coaching Recall - The Other 58%
52 minutes of a Football match, 40 minutes of a Field Hockey match, 34 minutes of a club Gaelic Football match and 46 minutes of a Rugby match. That’s potentially how much you could be missing when trying to recall your teams matches. According to Franks and Miller’s (1986) “Eyewitness Testimony in Sport” - measured coaches’ observational accuracy showed novice coaches unable to recall up to 58% of the game, with experienced and well qualified coaches unable to recall up to 41% of their matches.
This research made for an interesting topic of discussion with Lisnagarvey Ladies and Ireland Mens U21s Hockey Coach Adam Louden.
Adam casts his mind back to a series of games that he was involved in as a coach. "The first game of the series was a relatively straightforward 5-1 win, the team played really well and stuck to their processes, almost everything went our way that day. Feedback to players revolved around the stats and video to reinforce our process and for the most part it was pretty positive. In the second game, it felt like nothing went our way and we finished on the wrong side of 4-2 scoreline. After the game emotions were still running high and I was of the opinion that our performance had not been at the level it should have been."
He added that "our Analyst handed me the Performa Sports iPad app and I quickly learned, upon comparison that our stats were more or less identical to the previous days, if anything they were better - which surprised me at first. In the second game we had failed to execute when it mattered and ultimately paid the price on the scoresheet, but the process was there. We had actually created more goal scoring chances than the previous day. Without this information my feedback would have been different."
Often, a coach’s feedback process is based on their ability to recount the game and provide information on the team’s performance. However, without evidence this can become skewed by bias, emotion and previous experience. Coaches often remember ‘highlights’ of games, leading to an inaccurate overall picture obscured by the high or low points of the game. There is a need to protect players from feedback that is heavily subjective and not based on evidence. It is important to remember that what makes coaches human and effective is the ability to empathise and communicate emotionally with their athletes, to relate on the same level as them regarding events and actions. Coaches must still have an understanding for cause and effect of events and outcomes within their sport. Like Adam's story above, he has his own emotions that are similar to his players but he has to add context to that emotion, either influencing or supporting his feedback.
Any coach wishing to add objective, evidence based feedback can do using performance analysis. Performance analysis will allow coaches to integrate timely, detailed and tailored feedback to both teams and individuals - not just before and after the game but also at training (a teaching environment) linked to their coaching process.
Modern performance analysis softwares like Performa Sports will allow games to be tagged live allowing for stats and pitch locations to be collected as the match is played. Every minute played is a further insight into the ‘ebb and flow’ of the game. Pitch locations for example will allow coaches to see what area of the pitch their team is being efficient in attack or in contrast where their team are weaker in defence. Below is an example pitch locator that was used at half time in a hockey match to improve the number of ‘meaningful outcomes’ (goals or penalty corners). First half (left of picture) the only 2 meaningful outcomes came on the left of the circle which allowed the team to see, understand and plan to try to further exploit that area in the second half (right of the picture). Resulting in 6 meaningful outcomes.
Whilst live data is a crucial tactical insight, the biggest impact for player development is likely come after the final whistle in a coaching context. As previously mentioned, it is important that feedback to players is objective, unbiased and relevant. Linking video to match statistics through ‘tagging’ is a great way for coaches to quickly access relevant KPIs (key events) linked clips to open up a 2-way conversation between themselves and the players. Evidence based feedback from video analysis allows players to watch and review tactical and technical execution to either enhance or improve their future decision making on the field. It is important to remember that video or stats must be part of a mix of ingredients along with coach understanding, their ability to build relationships, understand each athlete and communicate effectively with said athlete.
In summary, video analysis tools such as Performa Sports will provide coaches with the opportunity to add objective evidence to their own individual and team feedback not just after the game but live and at training.