Northumbria University is currently ranked at number 8 in the country within the British Universities & Colleges Sports (BUCS) rankings and has teams competing at an Elite level nationally in leagues such as the Vitality Netball Super League, EBAC Northern Football League, BUCS Super Rugby and Men’s and Women’s British Basketball League.
Performance Analysis is one of the key areas within the wider support services offered to students and athletes at Northumbria University. This summer saw us transition away from our previous Dartfish software package to Nacsport. This is a move which has played a key role in improving our analysis processes on and off the pitch and has further established Performance Analysis as an ingrained part of all our sports.
An average week will see us film and analyse around 18 games across a diverse range of sports from Football, Netball and Rugby Union to Lacrosse, Water Polo and American Football. Northumbria University’s Student Development Programme plays an integral part in allowing us to film and analyse such a high volume of games. Northumbria Sport are able to recruit, train and deploy student volunteers who have aspirations to work within elite sport, and this year the Northumbria Sport Student Development Programme received recognition as the best student sport volunteer programme in the country. We currently have 6 interns and 10 volunteers working alongside myself to form the Performance Analysis department. Each intern is assigned to a primary sport that they will work with throughout the season, alongside a volunteer that they will mentor. This gives the students experience of building rapport with players and coaches and helps them to see how Analysis is utilised within a high-performance environment.
One of the key benefits of our move to Nacsport is the availability of yearly Nacsport Student Rental licences. This allows us to have a flexible approach to our service and allows students to fit their analysis in around their academic commitments. For instance, many interns and volunteers can now tag games on the bus back from away games, or from the comfort of their own homes rather than having to come to the labs at the university. Having this flexibility allows us to turn around a high volume of games quickly and keeps our feedback processes efficient for coaches and athletes.
Once games have been filmed and tagged they are hosted on our online platform, which allows coaches and players access to the video and information remotely. Being part of a university, it is important that we look to replicate the learning environment that students have engaged with academically into a sporting context and integrate this into their weekly training programmes. Having access to this platform allows us to empower both coaches and athletes to take ownership of their own learning. This allows them to be involved in the analysis process by contributing their own clips ready for their feedback sessions.
Another element of the Nacsport software package that we utilise across all our sports is the ability to create custom statistical dashboards. Coaches can outline what information they would like to see displayed, and this can easily be built into the Tagging Template and Dashboard. Using this feature alongside the integrated KlipDraw tool allows us to provide context to support our feedback sessions, with engaging visual content to enhance our coaching processes.
Our coaches really find the analysis that we do useful and as a visual learner myself, I know that tools like this are really important and effective at helping us get our key coaching points across. Sometimes you can coach and coach on the pitch, but it’s not until players see it clearly up on the screen that the learning really happens. Our aim as a department is to help create and contribute to a learning environment that not only gives all our athletes the opportunity to develop, but also all our aspiring volunteers and interns.
The support that we have received from AnalysisPro and particularly Josh Bryan has been essential during our transition to Nacsport. It is an incredibly robust and flexible tool that is constantly being updated and improved and can easily be integrated into any high-performance sports environment and I cannot recommend it highly enough.