Can You Turn Information Overload into Better Cricket?
How do you manage your virtual cricketing world?
We live in an amazing time: It's now possible for anyone with a smart phone or tablet to gather vast swathes of data through stats and videos.
Even at the lowest levels, you can quickly generate a huge pile of information that needs to be processed and used to help you or your players improve. It's a powerful tool, but one that needs careful management.
So how do you keep up with all the information you gather?
I caught up with two of PitchVision Academy's premier coaches - Mark Garaway and Sam Lavery - to discuss how they manage cricket data and use it to improve their players.
You may have a different approach, and if you do, I would love to hear about it, but here is what the Dream Team have established as best practice for their level.
Filter before you start
For Sam Lavery, a key point was to be precise about what you are going to gather, because if you have too much information you will never be able to process it.
It's perfectly possible with an iPad for a coach to gather information far beyond the scorer's remit. But ask yourself if you have time to turn that information into something that can be used?
The same is true for video.
You can film every ball bowled and played in games and practice, but can you filter your way through hours of footage to spot a weakness and make your point?
So instead, be cautious with what you gather and how you gather your videos and data.
- In games, collect the information you find most important, don't try and get everything.
- If you are going to film your in-game performance, focus on the first couple of overs rather than everything. Bowlers can also have the end of a natural spell filmed to see how things have changed under fatigue.
The cloud can help you here a huge amount.
PitchVision automatically stores every ball bowled and played in training, saving you from having to manually gather and process the data.
With a system in place you can look up every half volley, cover drive or anything else quickly. It makes data management and cleaning a simple task.
Archive and delete ruthlessly
Once you have your information gathered, and you have used to to make a technical or tactical point (or found it to be of no use), delete it.
It takes up space and dilutes the quality of your information.
If you feel the need to keep it as reference material, you can always copy it onto a hard drive and stash it away, but be ruthless about what is on your mobile device (laptop, phone or tablet).
The one exception would be if you need a handy reference point for development reasons.
Perhaps you are looking to improve an on drive shot. You may have taken a hundred videos of the shot over a few sessions. You can keep the couple of videos that show your progress from a hopeless swipe to a balanced stroke and remind yourself how far you have come.
Sam Lavery keeps his iPad clean after a session apart from a couple of important videos organised by player. The rest is backed up by the rule of three and stored away. The archive gets reviewed once every 6-12 months.
Enjoy the raw data
Coaches who have a lot of data like to filter it into something simple for a player to understand. This is an excellent approach, but the raw data is also enough for many players.
If you are gathering your own data, or you just like to dig through and look for evidence, then get that raw information and do it yourself. You may find something the coach has missed.
It's easy to share information, both filtered and unfiltered using services like Dropbox or Evernote. These are designed to let you have your information anywhere: You can share it between people or just between your computer and phone.
The coach will love to see the initiative you are showing, which gives you the edge in selection meetings.
Overall, it's obvious that data is a vital part of the modern cricketer and coaches toolbox.
Everyone needs it, and everyone needs to manage it. If you can do so, you will be on the right track to a clear mind, better practice and, of course, more runs and wickets.
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