Ice Hockey Analysis: Migrating from STEVA Hockey to Nacsport

By Santeri Hilli

04-July-2022 on Users

24 minute read

Santeri Hilli is an ice hockey coach from Oulu in Finland. Coaching from 2004, he has worked with both Oulun Kärpät, his hometown team, and Red Bull Salzburg in various coaching capacities.


Last season, Santeri decided to start using Nacsport at Kärpät, starting a journey that you can read about in this article, which explains how he came to Nacsport and the steps he took to transition from Steva Hockey. 


Santeri has agreed to talk to us a bit more about the transition from Steva to Nacsport, explaining some of the similarities that made the transition easier, and some of the differences, which made the analysis better.


So, without further ado, here’s Santeri…



I’ve already told the story about how I came to start using Nacsport at Oulun Kärpät. In this article, I explained what our goals and ideas were when making the change. Now, after a full season of using the software, I’d like to follow up and talk about the actual transition from Steva Hockey to Nacsport. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what to expect if you’re thinking about making the change, which, personally, I highly recommend…


But more on this later. For the moment, let’s start with Steva Hockey.


steva vs nacsport


Transitioning from Steva Hockey


Before switching to Nacsport, Oulun Kärpät, like many hockey clubs, used Steva for our analysis work. For those not in the know, Steva was the first video analysis software developed specifically for ice-hockey. 


Because of this, Steva was the go-to software for hockey clubs. Talk to any coach who was active from the early 2000s until today, and it’s almost guaranteed that they used Steva at some point.


The biggest difference between Steva and Nacsport, and the thing that hits you as soon as you open the latter, is that there is no pre-made template in Nacsport as there is in Steva.


Steva provides you with a set list of parameters, called “events” that can be used for your analysis. You can change the length of the clip by changing the pre and post-click times, and you can add a maximum of two pieces of additional information to the clips by using what Steva calls “sub-events”…and that’s it. In other words, it’s quite limited in terms of customisation.


With Nacsport, on the other hand, there are no such limitations.



Nacsport vs Steva Hockey: Quick View


Ok, before we start, let’s take a quick look at some of the big similarities and differences between Nacsport and Steva and define some terms that we’ll use throughout this article that you might be unfamiliar with.


There are some tools which are common to both programs but, obviously, the way they are named is slightly different. Here is a list of Steva tools and their corresponding Nacsport names:



Steva Hockey


Keylist Analysis Template
Event Category
Sub Event Descriptor*
Review Presentation*


*Although similar, there are big differences between these tools which we’ll talk about later in this article.



At this point, we’d also like to give you an overview of the biggest similarities and differences between Nacsport and Steva. We’ll expand on these later in the article.


ice hockey analysis nacsport steva




Similarity 1. Both pieces of software can be used to tag live games or pre-recorded video.


Similarity 2. Tagging can be carried out using hotkeys or mouse. In Nacsport, I personally use hotkeys around 80% of the time.


Similarity 3. Two windows can be opened whilst live tagging, one for watching live footage, the other for reviewing footage, although this is more functional in Nacsport.


Similarity 4. You can create playlists of clips which can be shared with coaches and players.


Similarity 5. Both programs allow you to export your collected data to Excel for further analysis.





Difference 1. No pre-made keylist in Nacsport. A blank, customisable template makes the software much more adaptable to your specific needs.


Difference 2. Longer setup times with Nacsport but a much deeper and more personalised analysis.


Difference 3. Nacsport dashboards. A tool which allows you to visualise your data whilst being linked to video clips.


Difference 4. Nacsport is timeline based. You get a chronological visual record of your tags instead of a simple list.


Difference 5. Sharing video clips is a much simpler and easier process with Nacsport. They do not need to be converted as they do in Steva. Simply export and share with Nacsport.



A New World of Possibilities with Nacsport


In Nacsport, “events” are called “Categories” and “sub-events” are called “Descriptors”, and you can add as many Descriptors to a Category as you wish, allowing for a much deeper analysis. Being able to add more than two Descriptors opened a world of possibilities for me, allowing me to add much more information when tagging a game live, as well as everything I could add post-game.


Nacsport also allowed me to add descriptors automatically to my tags, which was a great feature that allowed me to add context to my tags. Information such as whether we were winning or losing at the time of the tag and which players were on the ice at the time added great depth to every tag.


Add to this the fact that you can decide exactly what these Categories and Descriptors will be, instead of a pre-made list like in Steva and you’ve got a much more complete system of analysis.


Now, there is the possibility that this level of customisation could lead to what I called “the fear of the blank canvas” in my first article for Nacsport, but, in reality, this opened up a whole new world for me. I had to ditch my Steva-thinking and create a brand-new way of working.



Customisable Options in the Nacsport Analysis Template


There are many features of the Nacsport template which are designed to help you save time and deepen your analysis that are simply not available in Steva Hockey.


Some of these include:


•    Manual mode Categories and exclusions between buttons. Extremely useful…and there are no limits on the number you can create.
•    Activation links between Categories and Descriptors.
•    Cluster buttons for collecting more information in a single click.


nacsport steva hockey templateThis example template has been designed to mimic some of Steva's main processes. Download it FREE now.


All of these tools, and more, allowed me to collect more data with less clicks of the mouse, which I still find amazing.


When I moved to Nacsport, I didn’t add too many buttons to my template that weren’t included in Steva, but I still went from tagging around 700 clips per game with Steva, to tagging an average of 2000 with Nacsport. And this was just the tip of the iceberg, as the added data from descriptors was enormous, meaning that the level of information I was able to provide coaches was much deeper.


There are loads of tools in Nacsport such as this that are designed to save you time and collect data more easily.


There are a lot of similarities between Steva keylists and Nacsport templates and the data collection process is similar in many ways. You can, for example, use hotkeys for tagging, and you can also set the length of the clip before and after the tag. But with Nacsport you just get more. More options, more tools, more customisation, and, of course, more and better data.


But now we’re going to talk about another aspect of Nacsport which will be completely new to Steva users, and one which will be a complete game-changer…



Dashboards: A Fantastic New Tool for Steva Users Coming to Nacsport


Ok, it’s time to wet your heads in the world of Nacsport dashboards. This is a tool which allows you to visualise your statistical data in the form of graphs and charts at any time, during breaks in play, intermissions, and even while you’re still tagging a game live.


nacsport steva hockey dashboard

This dashboard is designed for use with the template above. Download it FREE here.


But this is much more than just data visualisation. These dashboards are interactive. Clicking on any number, graph or chart will open the associated video clips and, from here, you can add them directly to your presentation. There’s no need to leave the dashboard, go to the timeline, find the clip and then send it to the presentation. This is a massive time saver.


As I said earlier, this was a game-changer for me last season. I used them live, during games, post-game, and anywhere in between. In fact, there wasn’t a day that went by last season where I didn't use my trusty dashboard. This is an easy, fast, visual way of checking what happened in previous games or how certain individuals are performing.


For me, visualisation is important and, I found, dashboards made it much easier to present the conclusions of my analysis to other people. Good visuals engage people more easily, and the interactive element, where I just clicked the number and opened the videos, made the feedback process much quicker and simpler. 


It’s fair to say that the dashboard formed the basis of coaching conversations and influenced what content was delivered to the team.



Nacsport Dashboards: Easy to Create and Use


Dashboards were something completely new to me when I started working with Nacsport and, I must admit, I felt a little apprehensive before using them. I thought that it would be a complicated process to create them and get them up and running.


I think this apprehension came from my years of experience using Hudl Sportscode, where creating a dashboard was much more difficult and, in fact, involved writing actual code.


But I was wrong. There was nothing to fear.


In fact, creating a fully functional dashboard is a simple task. You don’t need to know anything about coding to create data labels, charts and graphs. In fact, everything is done with the click of a mouse. Choose the type of chart you want to create, connect it to the relevant parameter in your analysis template and that’s it…done!


Of course, you’ll want to personalise your dashboard, and this is the part where you can let your imagination fly, creating something that is both functional for you, the coaching staff, the team and the club, but also something which is visually pleasing at the same time.


You can position the charts and graphs any way you want and you can even a picture to the background. Personally, I created my own dashboard background and structure using good old PowerPoint, but you can do it anyway you want.


As I said, this is a relatively easy process, and the guys at Nacsport have done a great job in creating loads of tutorials to help you through it.




Nacsport vs Steva Hockey: Tagging a Game


Let’s talk about some of the big differences between Steva and Nacsport when it comes to actually tagging a game.



Visual Differences


The process of tagging a match, either live or from a video file, is very similar in both Nacsport and Steva. Obviously there are some visual differences, which we’ll talk about just now, but overall, there’s not much difference. You can still add notes to tagged clips and all the other things you’re used to.


Again, the visual differences are a result of the level of customisation available in Nacsport. Basically, Nacsport has a series of floating windows, one for the video player, one for the analysis template, one for the timeline (more on this later), one for the dashboard…basically, every environment in Nacsport has a separate window.


Not all of these windows will be open at the same time, but those that are open can be placed on the screen wherever you want, creating your own desktop feng shui. Nacsport will save this layout and open it the same way every time you use the program. This makes it very easy to get a workflow adapted to your own needs, rather than being dictated to by the software.



Review Footage While Tagging Live


As I mentioned earlier, it’s possible to have two video windows at the same time, one showing the game live and another which can be used to review the action from earlier in the game. This allowed me to check earlier plays and action.


This second window was supremely useful for those moments when we had to decide whether to challenge a goal or not. Challenges are usually hectic, as you have a maximum of 40 seconds to make your decision, and every second that I saved was pure gold. These decisions sometimes made the crucial difference between winning and losing.



Live Dashboards


Another resource that was extremely useful to me when tagging live were dashboards. There were two dashboards that I checked during the game which gave me statistical information. The most used of these was my face-off dashboard, which gave us a constant stream of info on how our centres were performing and provided info for crucial face-offs.



Multiple Live Feeds


Nacsport also gives you the ability to capture more than one live feed at the same time. In fact, for live analysis, you can add two live feeds, whilst post match, you can up to four different angles to your analysis. I had a few IP cameras set up which I used to film games and training sessions to make use of this feature.



Tag&view for iOS


Lastly, I’d like to mention Tag&view, which is a complementary Nacsport app for analysis on iOS. Basically, you tag the game with the iPad and then synch this to the video at a later time. You can also film with the iPad and tag at the same time. This is something that our junior teams used habitually and loved and it was great for me too as a lightweight analysis solution. No more carrying cameras, adapters and laptops…just the iPad. It was also very easy to transfer data from the iPad to my laptop. A huge timesaver!



The Nacsport Timeline


Once the game has been tagged and you make a start on the analysis of the data and the creation of a presentation for your team, one of the biggest differences between Nacsport and Steva becomes apparent…Nacsport is a timeline-based software.


nacsport vs steva hockey timeline


As you can see from the photo, all the Categories are listed on the left hand column with the timeline running from left to right. Visually, you can see when these actions happened and the video clip that has been created. Clicking any event on the timeline will open the video connected with that event.


Again, you can move and resize the windows to organise your workspace in the way that’s most suitable for you.


There are also many options for filtering and searching for clips from across multiple games, which makes it very easy to find relevant information.



Easy Presentations with Nacsport


From the timeline, and indeed from any of the analysis windows, you can send a clip to the Nacsport presentations environment. Here, it’s very easy to build up a playlist of clips that you want to show to coaches and players.


To create a new presentation or add clips to an already existing presentation, you just need to press “3” on the keyboard and, voila, the clip is added to the presentation. Simple, quick and effective, without needing to move from the timeline to presentations mode.


Once the clips have been added to the presentation, you can start playing around with them and add some additional information. For example, using the KlipDraw drawing tool, which comes included with Nacsport, you can add illustrations, animations and tracking to your video clips.


This is a great coaching tool for teaching players as it’s an easy and effective way to draw their attention to the things that really matter during the game.



A New Way of Working and Impeccable Support


Nacsport offers many different ways to navigate the analysis process. There is no 100% set way of doing things. The way I like to put it is that the software gives you the paint, brushes and canvas, and it’s up to you what you’re going to draw.


This is a brand-new way of working, and I recommend time, patience, and an open mind. It takes a short time to figure out a new workflow but, believe me, it’s worth it. Learn the few rules that the software has and internalise them.


But the best part is, you won’t need to go through this learning process yourself. The guys from Nacsport are more than happy to help you on this journey, and I can’t thank them enough for the support that they provided me on this journey.


They truly want you to succeed and get the most out of the software. Their support has, honestly, been out of this world.



Doing My Part: Free Template and Dashboard


I also want to do my part to help you on this awesome, exciting transition from Steva Hockey, or any other analysis software you are currently using, to Nacsport.


As such, I’ve created an analysis template which you can download and import into Nacsport to get you started. This template contains many parameters and hotkeys which will be familiar to you from Steva. This will ease the transition and give you a base to build from, adding your buttons and analysis parameters.


I’ve also created a dashboard which is paired with this template. This will give you a good idea about what they are and how they work. Again, the dashboard is something you can build on as you get more used to working with the software and develop your own workflows.


This template and dashboard are now available as a free download from the Nacsport website. Click the image below to get your hands on them. I hope they are useful to you.


free hockey analysis template and dashboard


Still not convinced? Why not try it for yourself? Nacsport offers a free 30-day trial of any of their products. Download the software, download my templates and play around with it yourself. You’ll soon see that this is a great alternative to Steva Hockey.


Finally, if you have any questions about anything you have read in this article, or would just like more information about Nacsport or my work, you can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. Feel free to DM me at any time and I’ll be happy to help.


You can also get in touch with the guys from Nacsport through their website or any of their social media channels.



So, that’s all from Santeri for the time being. We’d like to thank him for taking time out from his busy family life to write such an informative article. We’d also like to reiterate what he said, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to help.


Thanks for reading!

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