#6. Information to Intelligence

By Darren Lewis

11-June-2020 on Users

5 minute read

Darren Lewis, Head of Performance Analysis at Gloucester Rugby, continues his Nacsport journey and, today, tells us about his philosophy of communication and how to best turn complex data into something which is easily understandable by coaches and players alike.

 

Click here to read Darren's previous blog, The Software Works for You. When you're all caught up, read on...

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. This is the foundation for successfully identifying and tracking the answers to critical performance questions, underpinning the coaching process.

 

A functional analysis service relies heavily on the quality of the relationship between you and the coaches you work with, as well as having a thorough grasp of their principles. This knowledge combined with the technical competence to create suitable workflows will directly influence a coach’s ability to transform information into intelligence. Feedback is an embedded feature of both individual and team performance. When it’s delivered thoughtfully, it can be transformative and empowering.

 

Conversations with coaches about their philosophy provide the best opportunity to pre-empt the types of performance questions that could be thrown your way. From experience, the deeper the understanding of your coach’s philosophical approach and the language that surrounds it, the greater the value you can add as an analyst. This level of knowledge will help to answer questions that are asked and open doors, allowing you to ask questions of your own.

 

Developing analysis resources that reflect a game model and playing principles is where the translation skills come in. Transforming the information you gather from discussions with coaches into practical processes to support their working practice. Performance outcomes require collective intelligence to establish where the performance gaps are, allowing you to then identify and implement the relevant solutions.

 

With data and video now widely accepted elements in sport, it is easy to collect large amounts of complicated information that holds little value. However, with an increased focus on collecting more purposeful information, the emphasis is now on having the expertise to extract meaningful insight from a variety of evidence. Just as important, is the expertise required to develop intelligent collection and management systems to begin with.

 

“The really clever teams build a culture of learning that drives the behaviours they need”

Kerr, J. (2013). Legacy 15 Lessons in leadership: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of Life. Constable and Robinson

 

The audience for the resources you provide are the coaches and players at your organisation. Again, this highlights the need for a deep level of understanding to ensure the delivery of highly relevant information in a common language and format. Part of maximising the effectiveness of analysis resources is tailoring them to the specific needs of the people that use them. The best solutions are completely bespoke and developed with a specific purpose.

 

Providing signposts and opening avenues for deeper investigation into performance is part of the role that analysts and analysis resources play. Information is used as a vehicle to help guide day to day and long-term strategical decision making.

 

“Leadership is about glimpsing the big picture and small picture simultaneously”

Syed, M. (2020). www.matthewsyed.co.uk

 

Keeping video analysis and raw data as closely linked as possible is a factor in making quality interventions. After all, context is king. Dashboards are Nacsport’s way of keeping the numbers linked directly to the video, helping to contextualise events over one database or multiple databases.

 

Linking video directly to statistical and visual representations of registered data is an effective way for coaches and players to interact with information in a structured manner.

 

For players, it can bridge the gap between potentially complicated statistics and actual performance events. This helps to make things more digestible and prevents the context of events being swallowed up by the numbers.

 

“The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone”

Gamble, P. (2020). Prepared: Unlocking human performance with lessons from elite sport. Amazon

 

The way we share information at Gloucester varies. Coaches and players have their own dashboards that are specific to them and differ in terms of the information that they display.

 

It’s important to acknowledge that people learn in different ways and we have a number of ways we share information with people allowing them to interact with information and video as they choose. We use presentation windows as an alternative to dashboards to manage registers and data. Nacsport as a platform is incredibly flexible, a characteristic which is vital when catering to different needs.

 

“Dashboards have been the primary weapon of choice for distributing data over the last few decades, but they aren’t the end of the story”

Brownlow, T. (2020). www.towardsdatascience.com

 

I've been lucky enough to have worked with a number of coaching groups as an analyst in professional rugby. Each group had subtle differences in their approach to using performance analysis and every group had different processes, but there have a been lot of similarities between them. They have all revolved around heavy interaction with video and using evidence to inform decision-making processes.

 

Another universal factor amongst these groups and, in fact, coaches around the world in any sport, is that they’re all working to transform information into intelligence to best impact their teams and athletes.

 

REFERENCES

 

Kerr, J. (2013). Legacy 15 Lessons in leadership: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of Life. Constable and Robinson

 

Gamble, P. (2020). Prepared: Unlocking human performance with lessons from elite sport. Amazon

 

https://www.matthewsyed.co.uk/leadership-is-about-glimpsing-the-big-picture-and-small-picture-simultaneously-people-who-can-sustain-strategic-vision-while-disarming-the-bomb/

 

https://towardsdatascience.com/dashboards-are-dead-b9f12eeb2ad2

 

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