We live in an era where technology has a significant impact on our daily lives. The world of sport is no exception to this and one area where professional football clubs can utilise technology to great effect is through the use of computer-based performance analysis software. The Vale Academy embraces this approach to monitor the performance of teams and individual players at all age groups and it has now become an integral part of the Academy coaching process.
Andy Hearn is the Academy Performance Analyst and it’s his job to work along side the coaches at the Academy to provide in depth analysis of everything that happens on the field of play. Andy graduated with a 2:1 in Sports Coaching from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2014 and so is a qualified coach himself. He worked as an intern coach at the Academy Development Centres towards the end of his course before coming on board full time in 2016 as Performance Analyst.
“I really love it here,” said Andy, when we asked him about his role. “I get the opportunity to work with all age groups and although I do spend more time with the Under 18s, the work with each of the eight other age groups from U9s to U16s is equally important in helping the coaches to get the best out the Academy lads.”
Andy is involved with the U18s every week and the cycle starts on a Friday when the coaches will normally be working with the players on specific tactics for the Saturday game. Andy will then video the game on Saturday and after the match he will discuss any specifics that the coaches may have with respect to the analysis he will prepare. Andy will then put together the analysis over the weekend ready for Monday.
“The weekend can be a bit hectic.” Added Andy. “As well as the U18s analysis that I have to complete in time for Monday I will usually be watching and recording a performance from one of the other age groups on a Sunday morning as well.”
Analysis of the game recording is made using SportsCode Gamebreaker software which is used widely throughout the game and by many of the top clubs in Europe. It provides a set of tools for in depth analysis of not only the team performance, but it also enables the video footage to be broken down to show the action of each individual player during the game both when in possession of the ball and their reactions when not in possession.
The results of Andy’s analysis of the U18s game are reviewed with the coaches and players as a whole group or on a 1:1 basis with each player as required. Andy then repeats this process for whichever of the younger age groups he has watched on a Sunday so that the review of this analysis can take place by Wednesday of that week.
Head of Coaching at the Academy is Warren Campbell “Although Andy is not actively coaching himself, he has to work very closely with the coaches across all age groups to make sure that they are provided with exactly the information that they need to enable them to get the best out of the lads. “Performance analysis is highly significant when it comes to the continuous development of young players, Andy does a great job for us and is a very important part of the Academy set up.”