As we now find ourselves lost in a post Olympic depression, having to discover that there is in fact life going on outside of London and the BBC channels, we can look back over arguably one of the best Olympics in history to think of the lessons that can be learnt. London 2012 was a huge success both on and off the field. The organisers excelled in creating fantastic Olympic venues, gathering the most vibrant volunteers and providing the opportunity for some great sporting moments. London 2012 wanted to inspire a generation and leave a legacy. At this early stage, I think it’s safe to say that we all feel inspired and that children have been excited and entertained by new sporting role models from Team GB and other nations who differ vastly from the “celebrity” reality TV stars they have had to endure previously. So, with inspiration amongst our generations growing and destined to grow more when we witness the fantastic Paralympic athletes showing us that impossible is nothing, we are left to see whether the games can leave a legacy.
Participation levels in sport are sure to rise around Great Britain, so the starting blocks are in place. Once potential future stars are involved in sport, the most important step is to then keep them involved with enthusiastic and high quality coaching and support. From there, athletes with potential can be identified and nurtured in the high-performance systems. The government has committed to maintaining funding (read more) for Olympic and Paralympic athletes that will see them through to Rio in the hope that similar success at those games will show how London 2012 did indeed leave a legacy for an inspired generation.
Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport, said that the funding “signals to our children and the future generation of British Olympians and Paralympians that we are serious about sport and high performance sport in the UK and that if you show the talent, commitment and determination to aspire to be the best in the world then there is a high performance system in place to nurture your potential to be the best”. UK Sport handles the distribution of funding to different sports and is committed to a “no compromise” approach as it focuses on investing in potential medallists, so sports that didn’t do so well at London 2012 could be struggling to make ends meet. But are there ways in which we can still provide high-performance environments on a lower budget and also before athletes are accepted into the high-performance systems? We know that the most important thing for developing athletes from the grass roots is high standards of coaching and surrounding support. So how can we share these powerful processes from the high-performance systems in a simple, affordable fashion to ensure that our athletes are experiencing sufficient support and standards of coaching which are not far removed from the high-performance set-ups?
In a previous blog, Analysis for All, it was highlighted how one sports science support mechanism, Performance Analysis, can be shared by the elite teams and implemented amongst the grass roots teams by using affordable online sharing athlete management platforms and timeline based analysis software. So can a similar powerful and affordable framework be implemented for sharing and utilising top quality coaching practices? The answer is yes.
As we have seen in other people’s blogs (1,2,3,4) and experiences, Team Performance Exchange (TPE) is a hugely powerful tool for sharing/viewing files online, communicating with your team and keeping track of player development. Bearing this functionality in mind, coaches can continue to assist their athletes when they are not together by sharing clips and communicating their coaching knowledge around these, questioning athletes to improve understanding and keeping track of their improvements online. This tracking of improvements is not only a beneficial tool for the coach involved, but also the selectors at the higher levels. By having access to this data, they can compare athlete’s improvements against each other, norm values and average values over periods of time to identify “potential medallists”. So, TPE is a powerful option for developing our players in a secure online environment, but we need the ability to create these clips to share. One of the most affordable and powerful options is Nacsport’s timeline based analysis software which would be of great use for team events and tactical analyses, but we could also look at other affordable and powerful software such as Siliconcoach, which would be hugely beneficial for technical and biomechanical analyses. I will invite Ferg D’Ardis to provide a comment below this blog to provide you with more information about Siliconcoach, in particular their new online analysis solution Siliconcoach Live.
Looking back at Nacsport, starting at just £130, coaches can use the Basic system to capture video and create powerful clips of gold dust to share with their players. Examples of this software and its uses have been shown in previous blogs (1,2), but here I will discuss how the software can benefit coaches in another manner to develop coaching practices.
Nacsport has a standalone software called Training, which is also included within their analysis software from the Basic up to the Elite versions. Training allows users to create and organise their training sessions by creating graphics of drills using existing external images to complement the built-in drawing tools if required, grouping these drill graphics into different exercises (warm-up, skills etc.) with accompanying video examples, arranging these exercises into a whole session with further information like equipment, participants etc. and then putting these sessions into the Training calendar. As you can imagine, coaches can use this tool to organise their sessions and keep track of what they have developed or plan to develop. A powerful functionality is to then share these sessions in a printed form or to send them to other users with Nacsport software. This sharing is how high-performance coaches could enable grass roots coaches to utilise their proven methods to ensure that potential athletes develop around the highest-standards of coaching practice. For sports that want to check on how coaches are developing potential athletes, they can track the sessions that are being provided to athletes with this sharing of sessions in the other direction too (coaches to assessors).
This is an example of how I think Performance Analysis can play its part in leaving a legacy after London 2012. We must continue to look for the ways in which we can develop and implement our powerful processes with a combination of affordable software to develop our industry across all participation levels. We must also look at the many different ways that software and practices can benefit us in more ways than one. For example, having an intervention and connection to a young athlete by looking through their clips, stats and performance levels will not only benefit that athlete directly, but it can also become a talent identification process for national governing bodies who can sit over the top and monitor such implementations, perhaps using TPE for example, to quickly fast track potential talents and accelerate their progression through the high performance systems.
Analysis IS for all and can be easily implemented using the lessons learned through consultancies with different organisations from the elite level down to the grass roots, which can then also be applied to coaching environments and practices. So, with limited funding, a combination of affordable solutions gives an example of how we can ensure that a legacy is there for our inspired generation by providing support, communication and the sharing of proven high-performance methods.