What Is Sports Video Analysis?

By Duncan Ritchie

19-January-2021 on Tips

21 minute read

Sports video analysis is a relatively new discipline and one that has evolved tremendously over the last 20 years or so.


And it’s also a concept that some of the uninitiated among us sometimes struggle to get their heads around. In fact, one of the most common questions we get asked is “What exactly is sports video analysis?”


Well, let’s try and answer that question, shall we?


Chapter 1: It’s Not Just About Numbers


what is video analysis


Sports video analysis is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the use of video to analyse and improve the performance of a team or individual. Analysis can also be done live, in real-time, but the results are the same...a comprehensive study of a team’s performance, be it your own team or an opponent, which can be used to gain insights on how to improve. It’s a scientific discipline which uses the latest hardware and software to gain the maximum advantage over an opponent.


I’m sure most of you reading this have heard of Moneyball. Whether you’ve read the book or seen the film, the story is a compelling one. A down-at-the-heel baseball team uses the mathematical study of statistics to create a World Series worthy team. Well, this is certainly one of the major cornerstones of sports video analysis, but it’s not the whole story.


You see, video analysis is not just about numbers.


Yes, there will be the collection of statistics. But, as well as quantitative data, a sports video analyst is also interested in qualitative data which give insights into a team’s performance. An analyst is a statistician, but a statistician is not necessarily an analyst.


Simply put, an analyst will use all the tools that video analysis software such as Nacsport afford them to help coaches make better decisions and, hopefully, improve the performance of a team.


So, what type of information will a performance analyst look for?



Chapter 2: Types of Analysis


different types of video analysis


There are various types of performance analysis where the use of video may be useful. Here are a few:



Tactical Analysis


Generally speaking, Tactical Analysis looks at the performance of a team in order to understand how current tactics are working and whether there are any improvements to be made.


By using Nacsport features such as Enhanced Graphic Descriptors, the analyst can get an overview of what each individual player is doing on the field, where they are at any given time and suggest where they should be. This can be used to shore up holes in defence or find optimised positioning for attacking plays.


At the same time, a Tactical Analysis can be done of the opposition, looking for exactly the same things, finding weaknesses in defence or discovering preferred attacking patterns.


We’re sure you can see how useful this type of analysis would be when devising game strategies!



Individual Analysis


An Individual Analysis may be performed on any one player or groups of players in order to evaluate their effectiveness. Analysing groups of players can help coaches identify where there is a certain amount of chemistry and decide on the best starting line-up.


Individual Analysis might also look at technique. Think of a player’s stroke in golf, the serve in tennis or the mechanics of an athlete’s jump.



Behavioural Analysis


A Behavioural Analysis might try to get into the minds of the players. How do they react at different stages of the game? Is morale affected when they are winning or losing? How can this be exploited?


So, as you can see, there is much more than simple mathematics at play here.


But what about the behavioural characteristics of the analyst themselves? What type of character do you need to be a successful analyst? Read on...



Chapter 3: Sports Video Analysis Is for Everyone


Basically, anyone can become a sports analyst. All you really need is a can-do attitude and willingness to learn some basic skills. Having said that, in this article, we identified 3 character types particularly suited to the discipline.


type of video analyst


The Sporty Analyst


•    Dedicated to one particular sport.


•    Passionate, often on the border of obsession, with sport.


•    Often ex-players or coaches looking to expand their horizons.


•    Usually with little formal training in the science of analysis.


•    Constantly seeking professional and personal development.



The Scientific Analyst


•    Comes from a scientific background, usually with specific training in sports analysis.


•    From countries where performance analysis courses are prevalent in colleges and universities.


•    More education orientated than sports orientated.


•    Still passionate about sport.



The Techie Analyst


•    Has an affinity with computing and modern technology.


•    May come from a computing, engineering or scientific background.


•    Wants to innovate in sports analysis with new hardware or scientific theories.


•    May be passionate about sport or might simply want to diversify into this field.



These are the three stereotypical analyst types we’ve identified through our decades worth of experience in the field, but everyone is different and, it’s true that anyone can get involved, especially when technology like Nacsport is so intuitive and easy to learn.


We also offer different versions of the software which are apt for various skill levels, experience and budgets, from amatuer to professional, grassroots to the top of the leagues.


Whatever your personality type or situation, using specific sports analysis software can help you tremendously.


Read on for a quick summary…



Chapter 4:The Three Stages of Sports Analysis and the Advantages of Using Specific Software


three stages of video analysis


Generally speaking, there are three stages to sports video analysis and using software designed specifically for this purpose has huge advantages over non-specialist timeline based video editing software such as iMovie.



Stage 1: Data Collection


Data collection can either be done live, in real-time, or retrospectively through recorded video. Data can be collected from games or training sessions. In terms of Nacsport, data collection is most commonly done through the fully customisable Tagging Window although there are other methods, such as that used by Greg Mathieson, Head of Opposition analysis at Liverpool FC.


This is the basis for any analysis and the better the data collection at this stage, the better the overall analysis will be.


Data collection, otherwise known as “tagging”, involves creating your own criteria for analysis...and this is something you simply can’t do with normal video editing software. This also creates categories which allow you to easily recall every action in your video tagged with a specific button.



For example, you might create buttons for successful passes or bad passes and tag the video every time these occur. You might also mark the area of the field where these passes occur. In this way, you’ll end up with a complete picture of the passing patterns during a game which can then be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in your team or an opponent.



Stage 2: Analysis


Once all the data has been collected, it’s time to start the analysis. This is the stage where insights are compiled. What are the weaknesses of the team? How can the opposition defence be penetrated? What is the strongest starting line-up?


By correctly analysing the data collected, an analyst can begin to get answers to these questions and many more. This is where tools such as interactive Timelines, Dashboards, Heatmaps, and many more come into play, something which typical editing software just doesn’t have.



You can also export your data to Excel where it can then be used with other programs, such as PowerBI or Tableau to create great visualisations which are easy for coaches to read at a glance. 



Stage 3: Presentation


This is the stage where you present your findings to the coach, the whole team or individual players. The key here is to find clear examples to illustrate your insights and create succinct eye-catching videos.


This is one of the areas where specific video analysis software has a big advantage over traditional timeline-based editing software as the videos are already tagged with the specific parameters of your analysis. Want to make a video of only freekicks? Recall them at the click of a button instead of trawling through hours of footage. 


They also provide you with a whole suite of tools for producing great video presentations, helping you to improve communication with players.



Speaking about communication, Nacsport Hub is the perfect platform for sharing your videos and insights with players and coaches. By uploading your work to this platform, you can start conversations about the game, give feedback and learn and grow together as a team.



Ok, let’s move on to talk a bit about the equipment you’ll need to get into video analysis...



Chapter 5: Equipment Needed for Sports Analysis


equipment for sports video analysis


You actually need surprisingly little to get up and running with your analysis work. Obviously, the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more equipment you’ll want to add to your arsenal and the more tools you’ll demand from your analysis software.



The Basics


Sports video analysis doesn’t have to break the bank, in fact, to get started with analysis all you really need is a decent laptop computer and video editing software. This set-up will give you everything you need to start analysing pre-recorded video or streams from YouTube.


Combine this type of streaming with a free 30-day Nacsport trial or similar and you can actually try video analysis for next to nothing!



A Camera


This is all well and good, but if you really want to make use of the power of your software, you’ll want to get yourself a good camera for filming games and doing analysis of your own team.


For real-time capture, analysing a game or training session live and direct, you’ll need a video capture card and you may need to upgrade your software as some free or basic versions of video analysis software don’t allow for real-time analysis.


We even created an ebook to help you decide which computer, camera and capture device is best for you. Click here to download it.





We could go on and on about equipment you could add to your analysis set-up. What about additional cameras for covering more angles? A drone, even? Again, you may need to upgrade your software to a higher level, as some software packages limit the amount of camera angles you can add to your analysis.


Apart from that, there’s a wealth of extras that you could invest in from static camera towers to gadgets.



Mobile Video Analysis


There’s been a huge growth in video analysis software on mobile devices over the last few years. The advantage of this is that it is a lightweight solution which avoids the need of carrying around a lot of heavy equipment.


In fact, with mobile apps such as Nacsport Tag&view, available for iOS, you can use your tablet or telephone to film the action as well as tag the video. This can be a cost effective solution for many analysts and clubs and practically every company which produces analysis software has a corresponding app.


nacsport tag&view


So, why invest all this money? One reason...to win!



Chapter 6: Sports Video Analysis Helps You Win


Now, obviously, we can’t guarantee that you install video analysis software and your team is automatically transformed into a champion winning side. Video analysis is a small part of the structure of a club. But we can guarantee that you’ll learn more about the game in an objective way.


How can we guarantee this?


Well, studies have repeatedly shown that coaches and players can only accurately recall around 50% of the action that occurs in any one game. This means there is a huge amount of information being lost to the ether. Video analysis helps you recover that data and put it to good use, informing strategy and, in general, making better decisions.


More or less all major sports clubs see the benefits of video analysis and software such as Nacsport, Hudl Sportscode, Dartfish, et al, is ubiquitous in the modern sporting arena.


So, how do you go about getting into video analysis? Read on...



Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Own Video Analysis Department


Download the Nacsport guide to setting up a video analysis department



Yep, we know, there’s a LOT of information in here. Your thinking that setting up a department at your own club could be a daunting task. Well, don’t worry, as always, we’ve got you covered!


We’ve identified various stages in this process including:



•    Getting the backing of your club.

•    Auditing the available infrastructure.

•    Evaluating the costs.

•    Setting realistic objectives.

•    Creating the methodology of analysis.

•    Control and evaluation of effectiveness.



We’ve bundled everything you need to know about each of these stages into a handy eBook which you can download by clicking the link above. Really, it’s an easy process, especially if you follow our advice!


So, let’s get to work…!



Chapter 8: Try It Yourself

Download a free 30 day trial of Nacsport video analysis software

We’ve tried to give you an overview of what sports video analysis involves and how it can be beneficial to your team but, in reality, the best foot forward is to try it for yourself.


We offer new users a 30-day FREE trial of our software on either Windows or Mac. Obviously, not everyone’s needs are the same, so we recommend reading this article to find out which version of Nacsport is best for you.


If you’re completely new to video analysis, don’t worry, we’ll be there to hold your hand. Although we feel that the software is intuitive and easy to learn, our unrivalled customer support alongside innumerable tutorial videos and blog posts will be your crutch when getting to grips with your new software.


So, there you have it, a not so quick answer to the question What Is Sports Video Analysis? Hopefully you’re more informed than you were at the start of this article. We’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have. You can message us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin and we’ll be happy to help you out.


Thanks for reading!

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