Communication Tools for our Industry

Posted on 25 July 2012 by VPA

Looking back through many of the blogs we have featured on this site, there are some key recurring themes which we also picked up on in our SAS of Performance Analysis blog. Within the SAS blog, we looked at how important it was for Synergy, Affordability and Scalability to be part of the products and processes we use as teams, organisations and analysts.

 

With the economical climate that we are all in, Affordability is without doubt something we need to be looking at. This doesn’t mean that we should be asking our analysts to work for free, as they are the ones who have developed the powerful processes that we all benefit from. Instead, could we be looking at more affordable options for utilising their processes? (Product simplicity)

Speaking of these processes, we can look at Scalability. Some bloggers on here have been kind enough to share parts of their processes and advice for anybody to read (Skills Sets, Analysis for Excel, Productivity), promoting a community of practice (Connectivism), so it would seem fair to assume that this sharing happens within clubs, organisations and governing bodies to improve our workflows from top to bottom, a scheme outlined in this recent PA roadmap featured on the site.

So if we want to promote processes and development within our teams and organisations, we must look for Synergy between the products we use and also between ourselves. To do this, we must utilise the most powerful tool available to us, Communication.

 

Without communication, no team would function (both on and off the pitch), so we need to constantly look for ways in which we can continue to improve communication. A tool which can help with our communication needs, and seems fitting as it has been mentioned in other blogs on this site, is Team Performance Exchange. This is an online athlete management and file sharing system that is being utilised by sporting and non-sporting teams and organisations from grass roots to elite levels. You can learn more about it by watching this video, but in this blog we will be looking at how it can be used to improve communication in a variety of ways, as it becomes an industry standard tool for communication and athlete management.

 

 

Possibly the most impactful communication tool provided by a TPE site which benefits players and coaches alike, is the ability to upload a video clip for people to view and then comment around.

This comments system allows coaches to check understanding, emphasise key points and share their coaching knowledge with players away from the pitch. This has been used in a variety of ways by teams, for providing feedback on match performances, preparing for upcoming opponents and also explaining drills prior to training to maximise time with the players, to mention a few. A notification system around the site ensures that people can easily see new comments as they happen and check in on conversations they will benefit from, add to this the ability for coaches to check who has viewed a file and you can determine who needs praise or encouragement for engagement.

 

An internal messages system in the site allows members to send mails to individuals or coach-defined groups that are stored on the site and also sent to personal email addresses, so that mass and individual communication can be sent out simply. A powerful calendar environment on the site also allows teams to import their existing schedules and/or create new appointments to share with chosen members, notifying people of appointments via an automatic email if you choose to do so.

Further to this, a calendar subscription capability will ensure that member’s external calendars (e.g. iCal on Mac and iPhone) will automatically update to stay in sync with their calendar and appointments on the site.

 

Those few paragraphs give an overview of the generic communication tools built into the site, but as we all know, we like to look at how we can take a tool or product further by using intuitive and powerful processes. With this in mind, we will look at another way of communicating with people through the site that can be used to gather data for us to manipulate, questionlists.

 

Questionlists enable you to create questionnaires for your members to answer which can use multiple choice questions, open ended answer questions, questions which require a value or date answer and equation questions which work in the background to calculate data from the answers provided in other questions.

Bearing this functionality in mind, you can think of a huge variety of questions that can be answered by your team, with their answers being stored on their personal profile. Through categorising your questions you can display your answers in a user-friendly format for coaches to see.

Further to this, you can then export this data out to Excel or Numbers. This is where you can utilise your visualisation skills and data manipulation to provide you with interactive and even more powerful outputs.

 

Take for example the questionnaire used by Mark Lowther and the Centre for Sport Leadership, provided by Cardiff School of Sport. Broadly, the questionlist uses 16 “value” questions each with a 5-point scale (1-5). The questions are divided into 4 category sets for display within the questionlist report, with background equation questions also being used to determine a value for 4 different factors. The results from answers populate a questionlist report but also automatically populate a Value Portfolio on the site (graphically plots different member’s data for easy comparisons against each other and norm and average values) and a customised Dashboard item to track set criteria (expected levels, date ranges, specific member groups etc). From this example, we see internal synergy with the different functions of a TPE site, but we can further extend this synergy by exporting the data from a questionlist report into Excel, where we can further use our data manipulation and visualisation skills to produce dashboard style reports with all of the relevant information we need. Bear in mind that although a lot was discussed there, that was an in depth look at each part of the workflow. Importantly, all a player would have to do for us to get powerful bits of information to further manipulate and display would be to answer some questions that pop up on a screen in front of them.

 

Ultimately, we come back to the points we have all been making in respective blogs. No matter what task you are required to do and what equipment/software you may have to hand, the only thing that will limit/propel your ability to succeed is the process you are using. We can see that TPE in it’s own rights is a hugely powerful product for promoting communication and supplementing our existing analysis workflows with, but by using intuitive and powerful processes, we can get the most out of these Synergetic and Affordable products and produce Scalable workflows for our peers to utilise.

 

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Darrell Cobner Says:

    I am enjoying exploring the benefits and impact of merging TPE into PA workflows. All the stakeholders involved are engaging with online communication and maturing through the tools it represents; this is genuinely empowering their community of (coaching) practice.

  2. Jon Moore Says:

    The outline theme of this blog becomes the next exciting step for the performance analysis industry. We can reach down into the very grassroots and empower everybody who has aspirations of making available the workflows of established high-end organisations.

    Through some strategic planning, the right combination of affordable tools and innovative solutions planning, we can complement the top and empower the grassroots, as said in a blog before, with the big boys toys for all.

  3. Daniel Milton Says:

    I think the key to this is the level of engagement by coaches. We are in the 2nd year of using the product. This season(1 month in) has seen the level of engagement by coaches significantly increase. In doing so the player engagement has been fantastic with a number of benefits.

    We feel this has had a massive impact on player satisfaction, understanding and team cohesion yet we are still only using 20% of what is the capacity of this product!

    I will blog a monthly update of our uses and outcomes over the course of the season and would welcome feedback on how we are using TPE.

  4. Jarrad Griffiths Says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Last season, at my previous club, I would estimate that TPE was used around 20% of it’s capacity as you touched upon. I will be interested in reading your updates on the uses and outcomes of using TPE during the season, as you look to take it to the next level of development with your club.

    Increasing the usage of TPE at my new club is one of my goals, especially within the academy sides, as daily interaction between player and coach may be severely limited at this level. In my opinion, TPE allows the academy coaches and players to have more interaction and gives the players the ability to conduct their analysis in their own time.

    Through uploading various movie files, I feel that TPE can increase player education. By uploading files of good/desired practice from your own performances, it is possible to compare/cross examine with performances of elite players. The clips can be discussed with their coaches in the comments section on the uploaded file, which could ultimately increase the player’s game awareness/understanding.

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