In response to direct questions from the blogs by Huw Wiltshire and Darrell Cobner, as Performance Analysis Officer at Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC), I was asked to compile responses to FAQ’s that we receive. Hopefully, this will help support the points raised, summarise the access the University has to the tools of the trade, and address the comments raised:
What applications do Cardiff Met use for its Performance Analysis?
We have dual-boot iMacs which house a variety of Windows-based applications including Nacsport, SiliconCoach, Kinovea, Dartfish and Quintic. We also have a volume of Sportscode Elite and Studiocode. These all form part of our current teaching practice for analysing performance.
The other common task in PA is an environment for distributing files, sharing thoughts and communicating around the analysis (video and stats). Team Performance Exchange has stepped to the plate to be a powerful online mechanism for this part of the process.
What were the main reasons for choosing these applications?
They represent the main historic commercial software utilised in the field and are openly available in the market (depending on budget). The functionality and the capacity to create focused analysis are largely the same as they can be applied in multisport environments. There are bespoke, sport-specific software available, but these have not been invested in due to restricted repurposing. We are of course always interested in collaboration to explore new tools though…
The combination of the software is extensively used for teaching, student work experience and CPA research/enterprise activities. It is important to demonstrate the most common software used by top-level teams worldwide to ensure the relevancy of the skillsets needed for employability. In balance, it is also important to broadcast awareness of cost-effective, scalable options that are more likely to cascade into the grass roots of sport and education. This helps develop alert graduates who have a holistic understanding of the tools available to select the best combinations when they mature into future roles as coaches, teachers, analysts etc.
How do you manage the large video files?
The cost of physical and online storage has dropped remarkably over the last decade (and continues to do so), which makes this less of an issue in current practice. Coupled with this, current capacities to compress video on-the-fly helps reduce the size/quality of the files; but ultimately they still need to be need to be stored and/or shared in some way. There are simple workflows to share online and to iPod touch/iPhone/iPad; this is attainable on both Windows and Mac.
The other major factor that comes into play here, is the evolution and accessibility of the video hardware required to conduct analysis. There are a number of sub-£500 cameras, which can provide live feeds through USB/HDMI and additionally store footage on SD cards. This allows great quality footage to be acquired with manageable file sizes; and also takes away the need for powerful computers to deal with the intense processes of video capture/compression.
What are the main sports the PA is used for?
We use PA for all sports; mainly field-based sports such as basketball, rugby, football, lacrosse, hockey and ice-hockey, alongside individual sports like athletics, swimming and racket sports (such as tennis and squash). We have also had students looking at dance, snooker, surfing and darts in recent times. Basically, if is observable (and you acquire good source footage), you can analyse it… The key is selecting what you are going to analyse with the coaching staff.
Are there any additional ways you use PA?
The main impact of PA is for the tactical elements of performance, but there are some strong features to allow technique analysis, in particular facilitating real-time application of feedback by the coaches through recent capture mechanisms, such as SiliconCoach Timewarp. The synchronisation of multiple views is also really simple and effective for tactical, technical and technique elements. The principles of PA also allow for diverse application outside of sporting environments, which I am sure will be elaborated on in future blogs.
Are there any limitations to PA?
Ultimately, PA can be an expensive business for cost of entry, especially when you mount on the peripheral devices, such as networking, signal converters, etc. This is especially exaggerated when you have to make bulk purchases to service a classroom environment, which requires an IT infrastructure in the first place. There are derivatives of the software with fewer features, which can scale down the initial outlay and allow future organic growth of numbers or upgrades. The additional features can make a difference to the ergonomics of the coding process; which leads onto the second limitation: time. The third limitation is the specialist knowledge required to pull all the small parts of the puzzle together effectively and apply them in the coaching environment. The final limitation unfortunately, is still the engagement of the coaches and players in the process.
Is there educational pricing for applications?
There are educational prices for some software; bundles of multiple licenses can lead to discount. Some companies offer free/fee-based extended demos to allow student access; some have manageable, annual rent-to-buy models which assists controlled investment whilst being operational from day one.
Have you examined other complimentary applications, and if so, please list?
The lab also houses Adobe Production Premium and Final Cut Pro for image manipulation and video editing capabilities.
Screen recording software, which is another powerful ally to the PA process, and worth exploring.
There are an abundance of iOS apps which also have their place in analysis workflows.
Performance Analysis Officer
Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC)