CPA/CEP Online Dialogue

Posted on 30 August 2012 by Darrell Cobner

A few months ago, I enquired about the CEP platform and was met by correspondence from Mark Upton. His name was familiar through the resources he has previously posted. Equally, Mark had come across the “workflow evolution” video and my Cardiff Met (UWIC) role… so straight away the Internet had formed awareness and natural introductions; so we were not complete strangers.

At Cardiff Met, it is important to create environments that support academic, vocational and employability development. We therefore have access to a variety of hardware, software and online solutions for the MSc students to explore and establish an awareness of the market.

The CEP video demos of the site portray the platform perfectly, but there is no substitute for personal access and exploration. As lab director, I was particularly interested in the core purpose and functionality, pricing structures and client base, and to test the ergonomic integration with other software.

What transpired over time, was an interesting sub-discussion which I proposed could be mounted as a blog as there were common thoughts worth sharing; to which Mark agreed. The following excerpts remain unedited, but have been restructured to facilitate conversational flow:


DC: For me, it is clear that companies with complementary skillsets, services and products are stronger aligned as ‘associates’ as no person or company is the whole/finished article. It allows great awareness of the field and high capacity to create solutions required to drive and impact the industry.

MU: The last point you made is a particularly interesting one – how to collaborate effectively with others to provide good solutions, particularly in the PA field that is obviously shaped significantly by the rapid evolution of technology. It seems by having a community of contributors you could provide solutions that keep up with the rate of change and opportunities that arise.

DC: I think the chase of technology has raced ahead, but question whether the capacity to utilise it has? The current process and the people applying existing tools are sufficient; and are yet to be maximised in the majority of cases. There is still a battle to engagement and sometimes the core impact is through simple extraction of key video and data, interpreting it, and communicating it effectively. With cost of maintenance and constant technological advances, budgets do not stretch for the majority of teams. There needs to be a focus on the principle of PA, rather than the new products. Finally, and most importantly, I would sacrifice new feature sets for stability in software performance every time.

MU: Agree with capacity to utilise technology more so than the actual technology itself. One exception is online technology and standards, which are still to mature fully (i.e. video delivery protocols are still very fragmented). I think PA is only just getting a taste of how Internet technologies will play a significant role in the future. I can see most analysis tools and software becoming cloud-based (“software as a service”), which will enable enhanced analysis and sharing of video/data.

DC: You are spot on with the cloud-based solutions, but this can only form part of the process when wireless networks are more complete and robust (especially in stadia).

MU: Wireless is not there yet, which has a greater role to play in real-time analysis during games. In terms of wired Internet access, my work place has had access to a high-speed connection in the last 12 months, which has created opportunity to efficiently share and distribute video.

DC: It is important the new technology makes the process simpler and more accessible. This would really help break down the barriers to participation – fear of technology and cost of entry – and assist the critical coach/analyst culture to spread.

MU: Absolutely – we are seeing that with devices (i.e. iPad) that are not only intuitive for my 4-year-old son to use, but coaches as well. One non-tech savvy coach I work with was actually quite excited when he got his new iPad and regularly uses it for work-related tasks. This is a massive change to the normal reaction of coaches and use of technology. I think another thing that draws the coach in is good use of visuals to represent data (i.e. charts, “traffic light” indicators) –  assists in making data more accessible and simpler to understand.

DC: The connection is certainly in the realm of linking IT, educational technology and sport specific knowledge to ensure the learning impact is made in the development of coaches/players/teams.

MU: Also agree, above all else, that the integration of PA into the coaching process is what still requires the most work. We need to educate coaches and also realise that the communication and relationships between coaches and analysts is just as, if not more, important than the data. If the coach is a “closed book” or doesn’t understand how to apply the data, then it is just a waste of time and resources. That is where I think people with experience in both fields (coaching and analysis) are becoming more critical – they are the “connectors” (I think that might be a Seth Godin term!). I think this “connector” role could perhaps be called a “coaching technologist” – understanding and experience in coaching, analytics, how people learn (skill acquisition), and ultimately how technology can assist in all these areas.


I hope this catalyses some thoughts to open discussion/debate.

Best Wishes

12 Comments For This Post

  1. Jason Lear Says:

    Hi Darrell/Mark,

    Very interesting dialogue. I want to pick on your point about where and how does analysis embed into the coaching process.

    I have some interesting case studies at the moment. I work with a range of clubs and always try to establish consistency in the process specifically the communication strategy for sharing information with coaches and athletes.

    One of the clubs I work with have a coaching team that are in the ‘closed book’ mind set that you discussed. While they think they want analysis what they asked for was a videographer to capture match coverage, hand them the footage so they can evaluate it with no input from the athletes. I asked them how do they intend to share the data with athletes and the response was basically they intend to react week to week based on game performance without showing the players footage. Needless to say I explained that this would have no tangible benefit due to lack of consistency and the fact that athletes will not be able to visualise the feedback being given.

    There are many coaches out there that feel the analyst is a threat to their position as a coach. We need to find ways to educate coaches that analysis applied consistently will not only improve performance of athletes but also improve his/her coaching abilities, they have to think of the analyst the same way they would a skills coach, S&C coach etc, part of the coaching team.

    The fact that the analyst is still relatively new to the coaching process means the role is seen by many as an ‘plugin’ to the coaching process. It will take time for the analyst to become an established component of the coaching process at all levels.

    One thing that I have found regardless of how coaches view analysis is athletes generally embrace the concept of analysis.

  2. Mark Upton Says:


    I am not surprised to hear of your experiences regarding embedding performance analysis within the coaching process.

    I agree with what you say and can only add that it is up to the analyst to foster the best relationship possible with the coach. This may require educating the coach on how the analysis process works as a first step. Try to provide some objective data for the coach that confirms his beliefs about the game as a starting point – this can hook him in and pique curiosity – then build from there.

    Understand that in some cases changing “ingrained” beliefs/values of a coach is almost impossible – it is best in these situations to move on rather than force the issue.

  3. Daniel Milton Says:

    Hi Darrell/Mark

    I found this Blog to be really challenging to my thoughts on the coaching process. Mark I am very familiar with your idea of the flipped classroom and I am trying to engage with this process in the different spheres that I work.

    I am currently working as a teacher (using iPads and other school based software) as well as a rugby coach (for Cardiff Met RFC (where we are engaging with SportsCode and TPE software at present) and have recently been appointed a lecturer at Cardiff Met within the discipline of coaching science. A number of themes that are hugely relevant to teachers and coaches come out of the Blog and the comments made so far.

    From my experiences the coach analyst relationship is the single most important factor which will determine the success of PA in coaching. Yet this is nearly always placed on the back burner while the next trick or new piece of software is found.

    From my education background engaging the players and pupils to use analysis is never difficult – actually creating a learning environment where you can measure improvement is difficult. This is where the relationship between analyst and coach is vital. If the analyst is not producing information that is relevant, accurate, specific and most importantly used by the coach it is not worth doing. How much work do analysts do week on week that is not used (because of time, not deemed relevant etc).

    My coaching experiences without doubt have informed my teaching experiences where I dont have use of an analyst. Interestingly here I only produce work that is relevant to the learning experiences of the class. It is vital that each coach has clear outcomes of what he wants from any analysis undertaken. I like the idea that Jason promotes in looking at the analyst as part of the coaching team – An IT based skills coach. In the same way the head coach directs the skills coach to the specific skills he wants to be delivered, the head coach must direct the analyst in the same way.

    The modern day coaching process includes analysis, coach-analyst relationships and creating learning environments through the use of IT. This is something that all coaches at all levels could and should engage in. However for this to work coaches need to be educated in how to build effective relationships with analysts and how to build effective IT based learning environments for players.

    As I write this I leave myself with more questions than answers – over the next week I will look to produce a blog containing how the rugby club have used TPE (team performance exchange) in our pre season preparations to TRY!! and create a more effective learning and feedback tool for players. Hopefully this will generate more debate and discussions!!

  4. Mark Upton Says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for joining in the discussions and adding your perspective (which is really valuable given the diverse roles you have).

    As you said, many questions still remain unanswered.

    I would be interested in people contributing specific examples of how they have developed the coach-analyst relationship (from a coach or analyst viewpoint)….

  5. Mathew James Says:

    Hi Mark,

    Just providing my example of how the coach-analyst relationship developed during the past week where I did some match filming towards my dissertation at a tennis competition.

    Having done some coaching with the players previously at UWIC made the coach-analyst relationship develop much smoother. The coach initially gave me certain scenarios to pull out of the match footage to show the players, however after discussions with the coach it allowed the footage to provide much more effective and specific clips.

    While both of us would watch matches the coach would often comment on where the player could improve. I would then provide ideas on how to use the footage, from replaying certain points from the match to notating the footage and giving quantitative feedback with the amount of errors in certain areas for example.

    I found this discussion to be the heart of the coach-analyst relationship as both parties were contributing and working together with the same goal instead of both being ‘closed books’.

    Hope you found it interesting. Would be happy to answer any questions.


  6. Mark Upton Says:

    Great Mathew – thanks for sharing!

    A key point for me was the fact you had done some coaching with the players in the past – this would seem like a huge benefit and gives some “credibility” in the coaches eyes I would imagine? Probably the biggest challenges are when the analyst has no experience in the sport they work in…

    Also is a good example of the coach initially having something specific in mind for you to do, then you being able to expand into other initiatives that could add even more value – a genuine collaboration as you described.

  7. Mathew James Says:

    Yes having some previous experience with the players was a massive help. If the coach didn’t watch one of the player’s matches I was able to still give feedback to the player in areas I thought needed improving and areas the coach wanted looking at.

    However this increased the chance of the players being over-loaded with information at times as it was like having two coaches. And in one case a player’s father also tended to think of himself as a coach which made it even more difficult. But the beauty of having the video footage allowed us all to sit down and watch the footage of the player to help us all be on the same page.

  8. Darrell Cobner Says:

    The “Coherent Enterprise” article by Charles Jennings expands and confirms my initial thoughts on the value of ‘aligned associates’ combining (in the main body of the blog)

  9. thevideoanalyst Says:

    Good conversation and it is important that this is highlighted. It’s probably one of the major facets of Performance Analysis and is severely underrated. I spend time reading psychology books (not sports psychology) to improve in this area. There are some great books about how humans make decisions and even some personality profiling type books that can help a lot.

    We might have the best ideas in the world but if we can’t get our message across it’s useless.

  10. Mark Upton Says:


    Is there 1 or 2 books you would specifically recommend?


  11. Josh Bryan Says:

    Looking further at the coach/analyst relationship, thevideoanalyst has just posted this blog:

    It is a summary of recent research into “Elite Coaches Engagement with Performance Analysis” . Some interesting results to take a look at!

  12. thevideoanalyst Says:

    Hi Mark,

    I really liked;

    Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck. (Dan Heath)

    How We Decide:(Jonah Lehrer)

    Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy is Wrong (Martin Lindstorm)

    My recent(ish) reads :

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