With over 14 years of experience in fitness and athletic performance, Ricardo Sales is a valuable asset wherever he goes.
This summer, Sales lent his expertise to the Brazilian women’s national soccer team, helping them reach the bronze medal game at the Rio Olympics. As the team’s performance analyst, a position he’s held since 2013, Sales plays a crucial role by assisting coaches in putting together winning game plans and helping players improve.
Next Level Analysis
Though Sales serves a critical role in capturing images and video, his diverse background in the field of sports science and tactical behavior – which includes experience as an exercise physiologist for the City of São José dos Campos, fitness coach at a sports medical center and owner of an exercise physiology consulting business – also gives him the ability to create the staff’s desired quantitative and qualitative reports.
Sales believes his work not only aids the team from a strategic perspective, but the types of findings he unearths help the players stay engaged with game plans.
“The positive impact of my work mainly comes from the judicious and quality information I provide to the coaches and athletes,” Sales said. “(My work) helps players become more engaged athletes since they receive daily football knowledge, whether conceptual or practical.”
How exactly does Sales prepare effective game plans for the team?
Sales packages the information generated from video analysis for group meetings and individual film review sessions. He creates audio-visual aids for everyone on the team, leaving no doubt as to what they need to do to improve. Sales and the rest of the coaching staff also process information gathered from Sportscode on a daily basis so athletes can access the video and stats at any time.
The countless hours of scouring for critical teaching moments is all worth it for Sales as he gets to see the fruits of his labor through player improvement.
“The most rewarding things to me are the bonds I build with the team and seeing the athletes become tactical experts because of technology. Having athletes recognize the importance of their role within the multidisciplinary team is really rewarding,” said Sales.
The Evolution of Performance Analysis
With experience that spans multiple decades, Sales has seen it all.
“In recent years, the evolution of video analysis has been immense, especially in Brazil. Understanding how quantitative and qualitative data works has improved the understanding of the game for everyone,” said Sales.
As to what performance analysis will become, Sales believes there is no turning back for the sports world.
“Generating important information to ensure players and the team improve each game is the new reality. There’s no returning to how things were, only evolutionary improvements lie ahead.”
Tricks of the Trade
With years of experience, comes institutional knowledge.
When asked about what it takes to succeed as a performance analyst, Sales was quick to point out that knowledge is power.
“An analyst must understand the complexities of the game and turn any information gathered into something functional, simple and decisive,” said Sales.
As for advice for anyone trying to break into his profession, Sales was adamant about applying extensive knowledge about the sport to practical use.
“The biggest advice I can give to prospective sports analysts is to deepen their scientific knowledge as much as possible and create practical solutions with the information obtained through analysis," said Sales. "Be creative and responsible!”
To follow Sales’ experiences as a performance analyst, follow his Twitter account here.