Southampton Solent University
“Analysis was born to challenge the coaching process – the analyst is the glue to hold it all together.”
Southampton Solent University are a valued Nacsport user.
Southampton Solent University sits flagrantly in the heart of the Southampton City Centre. City Centre parks and the bustling metropolis of the City on the doorstep makes it a great place to study. A massive congratulations to Solent on the Silver award in recognition of excellence in teaching following the latest national ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ review.
So let’s talk about Performance Analysis at Southampton Solent University! I asked Louis Langdown, Biomechanics and Performance Lecturer, about the PA modules throughout the different courses and what he aims to achieve.
'We want to equip our graduates with the skills required to successfully capture, analyse and review performance in a range of sporting environments.'
CAPTURE, ANALYSE, REVIEW’ – (I think we say SHOOT, ANALYSE, SHARE but Tomato, Tomato.)
'My mindset has always been, can we produce an analyst who is able to arrive at any sporting organisation and provide the complete package? If you cannot arrive on site and operate a range of capture equipment, select key performance indicators, navigate specialist software packages, analyse and review performance and ultimately feedback your findings to players, coaches and key stakeholders, then we have failed our students and industry.'
So how popular has Performance Analysis at Southampton Solent University become?
I originally wrote Performance Analysis modules as an applied option for BSc sports courses in 2009 while an Associate Lecturer. Modules averaged 15 students per semester, the student interest and provision grew year on year and with Performance Analysis Modules now core modules across 4 courses; our new dedicated MSci Football Science, BSc Applied Sports Science, BSc Sports Performance Coaching, and our MSc Athletic Development & Peak Performance. Over 100 students per year will now engage in PA learning and practice!
So that’s like a 400% rise? The numbers are only going one way – with modules and courses popping up all over the UK, why are they so popular and what do they teach you?
Each module is aimed at increasing real-world learning with theory and practical application at the forefront of the teaching. Assessments have aligned to industry expectations with live briefs embedded within the curriculum, to give the students experience of the day to day activity they would complete should they get a job as a sports performance analyst. This has helped raise the confidence of our interns and graduates as they are able to pull on the experience and knowledge of the modules formative and summative assessment modes.
So, have any of the Solent graduates made it into real life analyst roles?
Indeed, our graduates include two analysts currently supporting national teams at the FIFA World Cup. Marc Rochon is the Croatian National team Analyst, so although we are disappointed England lost to Croatia, I suppose there is some pride in Marc’s success.
Tom Copper works as an Insight Analyst for the FA and his work primarily focused on research projects that help future practice, the big one being penalty shootouts. Off the top of my head, we have good analysts such as Scott Walters (Head of First Team Performance Analysis Southampton FC), Nick Stanley (Lead First Team Analyst Brighton & Hove Albion FC), Jay Lefevre (First Team Video Scout Arsenal FC) and Craig Nosworthy (First Team Analyst Huddersfield FC).
So, what does an analyst actually do for the club or organisation? We know they must be able to SHOOT, ANALYSE and SHARE or CAPTURE, ANALYSE, REVIEW, but how?
'The role of an analyst is not a one size fits all – every club will have their own philosophy, metrics, style, language and practice that relates to the now specialist roles supporting the organisation. This could be player development at the younger ages and involve education, through to player identification and recruitment.
Any good coaching team will need to take athletes from A to B in the most efficient way possible. There are many methods and unless you’re in the environment you will not know the exact blueprint, but you need to cross that bridge – the art of coaching in its true form is getting that athlete from point A signifying ‘potential’ to Point B, the ‘best’ they can be.
Despite an analyst playing a numbers game, we can’t necessarily put a percentage on what an analyst actually contributes. The coaching will work with the information an analyst facilitates, but there are so many other factors involved between points A and B, it’s difficult for a club or organisation to put a price on something you can’t measure definitively.
Analysis was born to challenge the coaching process – the analyst is the glue that sticks departments and meaningful data together.'
A fascinating response from Louis into the role of the analyst. Louis and the team at Southampton Solent are “making the glue” to go out into the real world, being able to achieve the fundamentals of PA and improve the coaching process, by providing information to make the best decisions in order to get the team “over the bridge” from “point A to B” in the most efficient way.
The modules reflect the experience of Louis from his professional career as an analyst and the popularity of the subject is only getting bigger.