7 Characteristics Every Video Analyst Should Have

By Duncan Ritchie

17-June-2020 on Tips

11 minute read

Today, video analysts play a crucial role in sport. But when we look back to the origins of our company, some 15 years ago (Nacsport was established in 2005), we recall how the video analyst had something approaching an anecdotal presence in technical departments worldwide.

 

This was just as true for professional teams as it was in the amateur world.

The Evolution of Video Analysis

 

Of course, using audio visual resources is nothing new and, as a method of learning, has been widely used for decades, especially when checking out opponents. We’re thinking of Carlos Bilardo and his players reviewing videos in a hotel room back in 1997 (see pic) or the 2,000 videos Marcelo Bielsa took to the Japan / Korea Soccer World Cup in 2002.

 

 

Anecdotes aside, video analysis has been around for a very long time. But the video analyst…well, that’s an entirely different story and a much more recent development. Our privileged position as one of the world’s leading video analysis software companies has allowed us to witness this evolution over the years.

 

Until recently, video analysis duties usually fell to a member of the coaching staff as something secondary. We often saw this task being taken on by the physical trainer or the team member most curious about new technology and methodology.

 

The Work of the Video Analyst

 

Fortunately, over time, the world of sport seems to have changed its opinion and come to realise that video analysis is here to stay. Above all, it has realised that this new task is nothing trivial. In fact, it needs technicians with specific training and enough time to devote to it.

 

As with any evolution, the process hasn’t always been plain sailing and not everyone has adopted and adapted at the same speed. Different sports and different countries have incorporated the video analyst into their ranks at different speeds and this is still an ongoing process today.

 

 

As we said, it has been a pleasure and a privilege for us to be in a position which has allowed us to witness this evolution through the eyes of hundreds of analysts throughout the years. And it is precisely this experience that has allowed us to write this article, a list of characteristics that, in our humble opinion, are a necessity in this profession.

 

Of course, you don’t need all of these characteristics, but you’ll probably see yourself in a few entries.

 

Please note, that this is a very general list as the world of sport is a broad cornucopia of personalities, cultures and competitions. Most of these skills that can be acquired by anyone who wants to get into video analysis and has the will to do so.

 

What Is the Profile of a Good Video Analyst?

 

So, without further ado, let’s get busy. A list of attributes in order of importance from highest to lowest.

 

1. Be Well Trained and Willing to Improve

 

Obviously, this isn’t something which is exclusive to video analysis. Training is an inherent factor in all facets of life. Without constant training and a desire to learn, you can’t aspire to improve your lot in life.

 

However, training can be a complicated area for the video analyst as there are multiple training routes which aren’t always regulated. In reality, the topic of training deserves an entirely separate article dedicated to it, but, for the sake of brevity, we’ll look briefly at a few routes into analysis work.

 

Very often, we find that the video analyst comes to their role as a natural evolution of their career in coaching. Usually they have specific training in their sporting field and are skilled in the art of observing, analysing and interpreting. Commonly, these types of analysts come from Latin countries.

 

On the other hand, many European universities, especially in the UK and Ireland, have specific courses dedicated to sports performance or sports science. As a result, this analyst’s approach comes from a more “scientific” perspective.

 

 

There are other routes, such as the data enthusiast or the expert in new technology who have knowledge of a specific sport. They reach their position thanks to specialist knowledge, combined with some of the other characteristics we’ll mention later in this article.

 

Whichever the route taken to reach the position of video analyst, getting the job is just the beginning of the process. There must be constant evaluation and evolution of skills. This discipline is in its infancy and in full swing, this means that practically everyday there are new methodologies, theories and philosophies, as well as the ever-present march of technology.

 

Fortunately, there is so much information and so many courses available that keeping up to date is really not much of a problem.

 

 

2. Be a Good Interpreter

 

Video analysts provide a vehicle for collecting data in the form of images and raw data and presenting it in palatable form to other members of staff, be that coach or athlete. They must, therefore, have the skills needed to filter, interpret and translate that mountain of data into something of value to the team.

 

One of the most reputable performance analysts in our user community, Darren Lewis, from the English rugby union side, Gloucester Rugby, puts it extremely well in this article Information into Intelligence published on our blog:

 

“The most important element of any analysis is how well it is delivered. Interpreting the philosophy of a coach, and translating their language to provide objectivity on performance, is at the core of effective delivery.”

 

As Darren points out, interpreting not only refers to data, but also relates to the people around us and how they receive information: coaches, teammates and players.

 

3. Be Willing to Make Sacrifices

 

They say nothing good comes without sacrifice.

 

Sports performance video analysis generally requires large volumes of information. Although it may not all be relevant, the greater the data set, the more precise the conclusions.

 

 

The video analyst is the person who collects this data. They work whilst others sleep. They travel to matches to scout out rivals whilst the team have downtime. They’re the ones who can be seen taking advantage of transit time and airport waits to work on their analysis and they are always the first at a match or training session, setting up the equipment needed to record and analyse the team.

 

Every analyst worth their salt has been in these situations.

 

 

In summary, video analysts work long and hard. They must be willing to put the time in to continuously improve. Video analysis can be a thankless task but you must be willing to give it your all.

 

4. Be Passionate

 

We’ve never met an analyst that isn’t passionate. This is quite a subjective quality but passion is intrinsically linked to the previous entry and, therefore, earns its place here.

 

Truthfully, if you want to give 100% of yourself every day, you need to love what you do. Anything else is impossible. Passion for the work is something which links every analyst around the world, regardless of sport, team or culture. In these last 15 years, we’ve never encountered an analyst that did not love what they do.

 

5. Be Organised

 

The video analyst must be methodical and organised. We would say that characteristic often borders on obsession.

 

From how they organise their folders or name files to how they register actions to how they structure their analysis and present information to the coach.

 

 

Everything must be meticulous because sacrifice and passion are not enough on their own. Good organisation is the key to efficiency and productivity and not letting the workload get on top of you.

 

Víctor Mañas, ex-analyst of Sevilla FC, PSG or Arsenal FC, explains in the article How to Establish Analysis Methodology at a Professional Club that “in order to use information effectively, it is essential to organise it properly. Categorise, standardise and unify the terminology”.

 

6. Have Empathy

 

The video analyst must have the ability to put themself in someone else’s shoes, just as they would like other people to do the same for them. Because sport can be quite thankless at times.

 

You work hard all week to try to put victory within your grasp, but something intangible and unpredictable gets in the way of that goal at the last minute. This is the sport. No matter how well prepared you may be, something outside your control can ruin your meticulously laid plans.

 

 

You work to avoid this. You control the controllable, but sometimes things go wrong. This can lead to tense situations within the team. Coaches, players and…yes, even analytical approaches may be questioned.

 

In moments like these, you must be controlled and calm. Accept that tension is a natural part of the industry and show empathy. Then continue to redouble your efforts to try and predict these unpredictable situations so they don’t happen again.

 

7. Be Determined

 

A video analyst must be consistent and believe in what they do above all else. Perhaps this quality can be linked to all the previous entries as they are all closely related.

 

Again, we should note the randomness in sport and the end result. The unpredictability on which you may be judged. You lose, you’ve failed. You win, you’re a genius. You should try to look beyond this and continue to work on what you believe it. Don’t waver.

 

Do You Agree?

 

So, that’s it for our small but extensive list of ideas. We’ve left out many attributes which could just have easily taken a place in this list: intuition, commitment, security, psychology, strategy…but we decided to focus on seven for the moment.

 

We’d love to know your thoughts.

 

Are these seven characteristics essential for video analysts? Are there any you would add or take away?

 

This may be just another list on the internet, but it comes from many years of experience and sharing experiences. Of listening and trading anecdotes…in short this list comes from learning from you.

 

So, we’d love to, once again, get your thoughts. Get in contact through any of our social media channels.

 

Thanks for reading!

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