This is part one in our series with Gilbert Albertson as he goes through a six-month trial of Sportscode. Gilbert has been regularly blogging on football tactics with a focus on the A-League in Australia over the last few years, and has recently began learning Sportscode in an effort to break into the analysis industry.
He will be posting once a month on his experiences working and understanding the professional side of the field of analysis.
I've always been a big football fan, and I began trying to turn what was a hobby into a career by writing pieces on tactics in the A-League and on my EPL team Liverpool with Leopold Method, a website where contributors talk 'intelligent, insightful football analysis', here in Australia.
Over two seasons with the site I was able to develop and hone my skills looking at different aspects of the game - from match reviews, looking at teams over a season, or developing player and statistical profiles. After a few years of regular writing and improving my analysis in the blog format, I knew that I wanted to pursue the idea of working as an analyst in professional football, which was a path other local bloggers and analysts had taken too.
While I have coached school teams and what can only be described as ‘Sunday League’ sides in the past, the coaching side of the game has not held as strong an appeal to me as the analysis side. Looking for patterns in opposition play, discovering solutions to them, and using ever growing amounts data to support ideas are of more interest and naturally fits with the role of an analyst within a club.
On top of not really having any real coaching qualifications or experience, I didn’t study a sports science degree when I was at University, meaning I’ve not been able to rely on the more obvious backgrounds to getting into the industry. There had been some good feedback from other analysts in the industry though that has definitely helped!
Not being able to go down those traditional paths with a sports science degree or a playing or coaching background is a hurdle though - and a bigger one than I was perhaps anticipating. With only nine pro clubs in Australia, the industry is quite small and opportunities can be limited.
But nonetheless my goal is to break in and the next step I’ve taken is to start I've to add as many practical skills to my repertoire as possible, which is where the team at Hudl comes in.
Beginning my journey with Sportscode
Over the last month or two I've begun to learn how to use Sportscode and gain a greater understanding of what's involved in the day to day job of an analyst. While I'm not surprised by the importance of attention to detail, there has certainly been more than I was expecting to take on board around the preparation side. From cameras and cables to video formats and the intricacies of creating a code screen, there is a lot to be in place before you press play on any video and get coding, let alone analysing!
Coming from a blogging background, one of the biggest challenges is understanding what the important things happening on the field are. While there is naturally a lot of crossover, blogging can require more of a narrative or a story and that is different than what a coach will want to know about his own players and team performance, or about the opposition or a potential transfer target. From a Sportscode point of view, this might mean a different set of events to code and adapting to different video footage that is available.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to link up with Brisbane Roar to get some firsthand experience. I’ve filmed matches from a number of angles, and after beginning with coding some older games and receiving feedback from their full-time analyst, I’ve been able to progress. I’m now starting to code games for the club’s youth team coach and matches of their previous opponents.
In comparison to watching games in full and searching for that newsworthy angle or main takeout for a blog, using Sportscode and being able to tag and code different event types and view them in isolation has had a big impact - identifying tactical patterns and highlighting them.
It's been a full on month but there is still a long way to go and a lot to learn, the next month will bring more challenges as I work towards the goal of coding in a live match environment for the club’s youth team. Working from a video post-game gives you time to adjust your videos and timing precisely, but a live game will be a great next step