How Chelsea FC is reaping the rewards from adding context to performance data

  • Collecting data is only part of the analysis process for elite teams, and the athlete-specific metrics that are collected should be evaluated and communicated using game- or training-based context.
  • Context is key throughout the analysis process and Catapult’s recently launched integrated performance data and video solution is the next step in elite football analytics.
  • Analysis will continue to evolve as technology improves. With the integration of performance data and video, coaches can more easily understand the insights shared by analysts.

The analysis of elite and aspiring academy football players is a multifactorial process that includes the collection, evaluation, and communication of data. The observations staff make during the analysis process aim to enhance team performance through improved decision-making, but this is no mean feat.

To help others better understand this process and improve their decision-making and team performance, we reached out to Chelsea Football Club. In this blog, Jack Christopher and Elliott Axtell, the club’s Head of Academy Sports Science and Physical Fitness and U23 Lead Athletic Development Coach respectively, share their thoughts and suggestions for coaches looking to harness player tracking solutions, like Catapult Vector

Learn more about Catapult Vector by clicking here to download our free brochure.
Chelsea FC: Integrated Data + Video

Step 1: Collection and evaluation of data

Both Jack and Elliott have worked for the esteemed English Premier League club for more than 10 years and across much of that time, have used Catapult’s player tracking solutions to collect athlete-specific data and objectify the analysis of their players.

For those with limited experience with player tracking solutions, identifying the metrics which impact your team’s performance is where you should start to accurately inform coaching practice, according to Elliott.

“From our point of view, acceleration load would be a core metric to collect. That’s one we would use predominantly when looking at the load and/or intensity of our training and games … and this is especially true on a longitudinal basis, as we often find ourselves defaulting to acceleration load to track trends and deviances over time,” said Elliott.

Interestingly, and despite having access to more than 250 metrics using Catapult Vector, keeping data collection simple was recommended by the experienced practitioners.

“I wouldn’t overcomplicate the collection and evaluation part of the analysis process. Often you can get blinded by the ‘fancy’ metrics but keeping things simple is key to improving player development. Monitoring the amount of high-speed work your players do is so important and it’s an effective place to start your analysis,” said Jack.

Step 2: Communication and reporting to coaches

Having collected your players’ data, now comes perhaps the most important part, where analysts can make the greatest difference for their team – reporting and communicating to coaches.

“As an analyst, you can collect loads of data, but coaches don’t have all the time in the world to go through it. So your role is to simplify the insights in a compact manner. To do so … your goal should be to determine the least amount of insights and information you need to compile to get your point across to your coaches,” said Jack.

In addition, it is important to remain objective throughout this process to ensure your insights are accurate and avoid biases and opinions.

“Data makes coaches’ decisions objective and enables you as an analyst to deal with the facts. This is so helpful when there are opinions on performances from players, coaches and others,” said Jack.

Dealing with data in this way enables Elliott to “narrow down insights into easily digestible bullet points which the coaches can take onboard quickly. Ultimately, this ensures your analysis – data collection and evaluation – work makes an impact on the team and their eventual performances.”

Step 3: Advancing technology to improve the analysis process

The use of technology has long been ingrained within the analysis process of football players. As a result, football analysis has seen a number of key ‘step changes’ (e.g Movement Profile for Football) that elevate the impact analysts have within their teams.

The new standard for workload monitoring, Movement Profile:

Click here to enquire about Movement Profile for Football.

Another recent step change took place in February 2022 with the integration of performance data and video. Together this development makes it easier for coaches to understand the insights shared by analysts, said Jack.

“Adding context is so important and just having totals isn’t enough anymore,” he said. “You need to be able to visualise and understand the differences in load leading up to injuries, for example, … and when it comes to sharing your insights with coaches, you should always be looking to add game- or training-based context. Doing so makes it much easier for coaches to understand your reported insights.”

Elliott continued: “Telling a story is really what you’re doing with your reporting. Adding context to your insights – say, detailing how much weekly work/load a player has had – is key to determining performance come matchday.”

Integrated Performance Data + Video

As a result of the need for greater context within the analysis process, Catapult released integrated performance data and video. Watch the video below to learn more:

→  Click here to request a free demo of Performance Data + Video.

The integration of video event data and athlete performance data allows football teams to contextualise the physical outputs of every phase of play, empowering them to optimise training sessions with more certainty and accuracy than before.

These workflows are all in a single platform, saving them significant amounts of time and powering faster decision making. User benefits:

  1. Contextualized performance insights – Filter, quantify, and view athlete-specific performance metrics connected to video and event data.
  2. Unlocking positional data – Access positional data without optical cameras using our built-in wearable GPS.
  3. Improving workflow efficiency – Save time and communicate effectively across your entire organization with connected data, AI-powered tools, and more.

Innovations and step changes, like integrated performance data and video, help to elevate the work of an analyst, especially so when working with the next generation of talent, said Jack.

“Younger generations are more receptive to video, and we can now show the players the movements they should be doing and what their intensity should be,” he said. “Additionally, we can show examples of others doing it, allowing us to get the message across much easier and bridge the gaps between opinion and insight.”

→  Click here to request a free demo of Performance Data + Video.

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