A Guide to Nacsport Activation Links

By Duncan Ritchie

15-March-2022 on Tips

16 minute read

As we’ve said many times before, there are many tools available in Nacsport which help save you time during an analysis whilst, at the same time, allowing you to get a much deeper analysis. Clustered buttons and auto-lists and auto-presentations are two such examples, and today, we’re going to look at another…activation links.


Whilst the previous two tools are available in Nacsport Pro+, activation links are reserved for our flagship product, Elite. As such, this is an extremely advanced data collection tool which, although at first glance may seem difficult to understand, at the end of the day, is actually a fairly simple concept to get your head around.


So, let’s explain exactly what these links are, show you how to create them, and list a few practical examples of how they can be used during an analysis.

What Are Activation Links?


Simply put, these allow you to link together the buttons on your template in chains. When you click on one button in the chain, the other buttons are automatically clicked. A simple example of this would be if you want to tag all the shots in a game of football. There are two major outcomes from a shot, either your team scores or it doesn’t.


To tag these scenarios, you might have two different sequences of button clicks:


Shot (Category) - Goal (Descriptor) - Good (Descriptor)


Shot (Category) - Miss (Descriptor) - Bad (Descriptor)


With an average of around 30 shots per game for both teams, this sequence of tags would represent around 90 button clicks, a huge amount, especially if you are tagging the game in real-time. And remember, this is an extremely simple example. The actual number of clicks with all the relevant descriptors would, in all likelihood, be much larger.


But, by using activation links, you can reduce this number to just thirty clicks. How? Well, you can set up your button template with links between the buttons like in the example below.


In this example, the two descriptors Goal and Miss are linked to the category Shot (the blue arrow), and they are also linked to the descriptors Good and Bad (the white arrow). By setting up these links, we now simply have to click either Goal or Miss and the category and the extra descriptor are added automatically, saving us 2 thirds of the number of clicks we would normally have to do.


Now, obviously we appreciate that this is an extremely simple example of how these links can be used, but hopefully it serves to illustrate how useful these links can be. Later in the article, we’ll look at the different behaviours that can be assigned to your links and a few more examples of how they can be used. But first, let’s take a look at how to create these links.


How to Set Up Links in Your Template



The process for setting up links between your buttons is simple and can be done in a few seconds. The difficult part is planning exactly what actions you want to tag and how you want to organise your template.


We suggest that you do this planning stage on a piece of paper before you even open Nacsport and start creating or modifying your template, this will pay off in the long run, as your mind will be more focused on the task at hand and you’ll have a better idea of what exactly you want to tag and analyse.


Anyway, we’re not here to give you a lecture on organisation and preparedness, we’re here to tell you about activation links.


So, how do you set them up?


On the template editing screen, press and hold the spacebar, click the first button you want to link then drag the line to the second…and that’s it!


Yes, it’s very easy, but there are a few things you have to be aware of.


The Direction and Order of Activation


The first is the direction of activation. The direction of activation will be from the first button you click to the second. The arrow that appears will make this clear. If you look at the example in the section above, you’ll see that the blue arrow goes from Goal (category) to Shot (descriptor). 


This means that we clicked and dragged from the former to the latter. If we had done it in the other direction and linked Shot to Goal and Shot to Miss, this would mean that clicking on Shot would activate all the buttons in one chain, which is, obviously, no use to us.


The order of activation is also something which needs to be considered, especially if we have more than one category in the chain. For example, if we have a tagging chain which contains:


Defense (Category) - Steal (Descriptor) - Good (Descriptor) - Transition (Category)


When it comes to your final analysis, associating the descriptors with Defense is not the same as associating them with Transition. In this case, we need to think carefully about the order each action is tagged. And this is even more important with longer chains.


Fortunately, Nacsport gives you plenty of options for ordering your activation links well. You can see all the different options by clicking on the “Link” tab in the template editing environment.



Clicking on the button where the link starts will reveal some options which will change the colour of the arrow, according to the chart above.


But what does all this mean?


Well, as an example, look at this:


Choosing “to next” in the drop down menu will change the arrow linking the descriptors to orange. If we look at our colour chart, we can see that this means “Descriptors to next category”. What this means, in reality, is that when we click on Defense, all four buttons will be tagged in sequence, but the descriptors will be associated with the next category in the chain, Transition in this case. The tag will look like this:

Now, we’ll change the colour of the arrow to black by choosing the “to both” option in the drop down menu. Again, looking at our colour chart, we see that this means that the descriptor will be sent to both categories in our chain.


So, now Steal will be associated with both Defense and Transition. Our tag will look like this:


So, as you can see, by experimenting with the direction and order of your activation links, you can get many different combinations of tags which will create a deep analysis with very few clicks.




Deactivation Links


Ok, we’ve covered activation links, so let’s now move onto deactivation links.


Have a look at this chain:


Here we are measuring ball possession with two manual buttons. Own Possession and Opp Possession for when the opponent wins the ball. When we lose possession, we want to add the descriptors Loss and Bad. Instead of clicking on the 3 different buttons, we can tag this event in one click with a deactivation link.


In the above picture, you can see that the link between Loss and Possession is grey. If we go back to our colour chart, we can see that a grey arrow means "Deactivation". So, what does this mean?


Well, obviously, losing the ball signifies a change of possession, and this is something we want to tag as bad. So, with the above set of links, a single click on Loss will deactivate the manual category and tag the two descriptors at the same time.


We can then activate the Opp Possession button manually. We may even have another chain of descriptors attached to this with Gain and Good descriptors, so we get a full idea of the game. It should also be noted that a normal link to a manual category will only open it, a deactivation link must be set in order to close it.



Delays Between Categories


Ok, let’s talk about links between categories for a second. 


We’ve got two categories: Shot and Goal. Obviously, there can’t be a goal without a shot (let’s forget about own-goals and random deflections for the moment, shall we?), so we can link these two together so that every time a Goal is tagged, we also tag a Shot automatically.


It may look like this in our template:


But obviously, the shot will usually happen a second or so before the goal. So, if we want to be completely accurate with our tags and their timing, we can still use activation links but simply add a delay.


If you go to the button where the link starts, you’ll have the option to add a delay. You can add a delay of up to 60 secs. 


For the purposes of a goal, however, a delay of one second is added to the tag. This means that, if we click on goal in minute 43:51 of the game, the tag will look like this


43:50 Shot

43:51 Goal


This ensures that our data collection is completely accurate in its timing and order.


Links in Panel Flows


If you’re a Nacsport Elite user and you’re using the Panel Flows feature (and, let’s be honest here, why wouldn’t you?), it’s important to note that activation and deactivation links cannot go between distinct panels.


They can, however, be used in the same panel as much as you want.



Want to Try It for Yourself?


If you’re already an Elite user and haven’t been using activation and deactivation links, why are you still reading this? Get Nacsport booted up and start playing with all the different options now.


If you aren’t an Elite user and you’re reading this thinking how much time you could save using this feature, well…maybe it’s time for an upgrade. There are many advanced analysis tools such as this available in Elite, and all of them are guaranteed to provide a deeper, more thorough analysis.


If you would like to upgrade, get in touch with us today and we’d be more than happy to talk you through your options.


Likewise, if you’ve got any questions about this article or any other feature of Nacsport, don’t hesitate to reach out at the same place. You can also reach us on any of our social media sites.


Thanks for reading!

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