This article about the cricket coach as analyst is the second in a series about club and school coaching in the modern day. For the rest of the series, get the free PitchVision newsletter. For part one, click here.
Can a coach also be an analyst?
In fact, analysis has been at the core of coaching since it was invented.
It's just the perception of analysis has changed with the advent of technology, and many coaches assume good analysis is now beyond their reach. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have been on any kind of coaching course, you know the idea of observe-analyse-feedback is central to the coaching process. In summary, a coach will be constantly watching and assessing players across a number of factors. She can then provide useful, timely and relevant feedback on her analysis.
In the past, coaching courses have focused on technical analysis only. You watch the player, compare them to best practices - or "technical perfection" - and decide on the mismatches and matches. This requires skill and knowledge and is still a core of coaching.
Yet, again, we see that the analysis element of coaching has gone far beyond technique. A good coach, even at grass-roots level, can use a variety of tools to do technical and statistical analysis. Let's talk about some of these now:
The biggest change in the last 10 years is that everyone has a camera in their pocket. This makes video analysis simple for the coach: Hold up your phone and video from the right angle to get an instant reply of every shot or ball you want to see again.
Naturally, your traditional observe and analyse skills still apply, but with video you can do two things,
The ubiquity of video can also be a problem for the coach. You can now easily record every moment of every session. You then get into questions of data management that you may want to avoid, especially when working with younger players and the question of child protection looms large. However, there is no need to be a completist to get the benefits.
If you want to take another set up beyond your phone, a tool like PV/VIDEO, you can automate this process, and let you manage the session while also seamlessly gathering data.
Whatever you use, the art of coaching is still important: Knowing when a technical flaw is not a problem (and when it really is), knowing the right time to intervene, and knowing how to present your findings are things that a camera can't do for you.
Perhaps less traditional is the growth of stats around the game. We have always had averages and cumulative totals to look at, but with simple tools we can dig deeper.
In games, you can use simple analysis around your goals for the team. So, for example, if you are looking to improve fielding you can count the number of good fielding efforts and the number of misfields. You can then take the numbers to practice, work on fielding and show improvement over a number of games.
In a similar way, if running is your weak area, you can count the number of run stolen and missed. You can also keep a tally of singles scored through the season and make it a competition to get the most in the year (or the best average singles per match). Look here for some more easy analysis ideas.
In practice you can do the same.
Clearly, PitchVision is built for this. You can track ball accuracy, pace and deviation without doing anything as a coach. All you need to do is present how your guys are doing over a number of sessions, and tweak your drills to help with improvements.
Even if you are only dreaming of PitchVision, you can record things as you go: Make games of training sessions with points for acheiveing certain outcomes and have prizes. Players respond well to competitive situations so it's a no-brainer to record things as you go. If you have to use cones, pen and paper for now, go for it. Better written down than not.
When you combine statistics with technology and good old-fashioned coaching skills you have a powerful way of picking out areas of strength and areas to work on. You can then focus on these to boost player skills far beyond the days where all we had was eyes and memory for analysis.