The SAS of Performance Analysis

Posted on 01 June 2012 by VPA



Within sporting and industry environments, we endeavor to create performance analysis environments that encourage autonomy among participants to discover information that can effect change and enable them to deliver interventions. As more performance analysis tools become available, it has become crucial to apply a synergetic combination of products and tools that complement each other.


Timeline-based analysis products tend to be the primary choice for the collection and management of video. Disseminating the information online has also become a high demand in professional and non-professional environments. The key is to ensure that the interfaces and workflows are not too complex, create ownership of performance and encourage engagement.


Recent developments enable transfer between timeline-based products using simple import/exports of the video source and associated data-rich XML files. Importantly, this allows cross-platform exchange between software, onto web-based platforms, and even between operating systems. Ultimately, Windows and Mac software produce the same timeline functionality, which empowers the analysis process. The implications have a major impact on all environments (sport, education, industry and medical) by providing far more flexibility across the board.




Technology continues to race forward, and the array of technical processes we can achieve through platform-based applications and web solutions is becoming huge.  However, it is critical to evaluate whether the progressions actually impact performance, especially given the financial implications. Simplicity is proving to be the new cutting edge, along with more informed understanding at the lower and middle levels of our organisations. Cost-effective, intuitive interfaces are available which enable discussion and encourage engagement.


For example, Nacsport is a Windows-based timeline video analysis product, which brings equal functionality to lower and middle levels of organisations. Nacsport has all the cross-product synchronisation functions previously alluded to, where files created can also link swiftly into an online delivery process through Team Performance Exchange.


Both these products are affordable tools, which enable high-end processes to be available at the grassroots levels of our organisations. More excitingly, the products can underpin previous investments made at the professional level to help maximise budget and increase effectiveness.




Through the introduction of this synergetic, affordable portfolio of tools, practitioners can now consider applying high-end workflows throughout their organisation. Using generic, scalable tagging processes, we can create and share data sets of information from the grassroots right to the top level (and vice versa). With rigorous and reliable collection mechanisms, this opens up the possibility of creating common processes, collating large databases of information, and applying them in every aspect of an organisation’s operational processes e.g. to monitor and evidence progression of applied interventions, identify trends and tendencies, etc.


This scalability in a sporting domain is mirrored and extends into other industries. Video performance analysis is currently cascading down from the elite levels to non-elite sporting teams and across departments within National Governing Bodies. Within the educational field, affordable products support the growing need to integrate the tools at both early stages of curriculum within schools and colleges, and within university degree programmes. The great news is that access to the tools and processes are now a reality, rather than a wishlist.

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16 Comments For This Post

  1. Hugh Jenner Says:

    Really good video highlighting the benefits of a brilliant and affordable piece of software. We will be using nacsport to underpin our practices at Sale next year. Using the software predominantly with the academy on windows based laptops. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  2. JohnK Says:

    Interesting article and video of the transfer from Nacsport to Sportscode and back. Can you purchase Nacsport directly from yourself or would it be necessary to purchase from the website?
    One question though, why would you want to run it on a Mac if it is a windows application? Is it because the Mac’s operating system is more stable and when capturing live you cannot be having the hardware or operating system fail? Surely though if you run it on a virtualised Windows environment you are still running the risk of using the ‘not as stable’ operating system.
    Personally I think you get what you pay for in terms of analysis software and I am not ready to ‘downgrade’ to Windows just yet.

  3. Darren Lewis Says:

    Great video and blog! performance analysis can be applied at every level of sport for organisations who have varying budgets and it appears to be catered for with these products. I like Hugh intend to integrate a filtered work flow within our EPDG group at Bath Rugby where PC’s are already in situ. Capturing live is not an option for collecting footage in these situations so a post match process is more than adequate. Mac’s have a fantastic reputation for being stable … but they are only as stable as the software that runs on them, and no software is 100% bug free!!

    Great stuff looking forward to get stuck in.

  4. Darren Lewis Says:

    Hi JohnK,

    I have just noticed your comment on another blog on the site:

    To allow a contextual judgement of your opinion, what is your current role in the field of PA?

  5. JohnK Says:

    Hi Darren

    Having worked in ‘PA’ as it is now referred to for a number of years before it became fashionable to do so I have seen and used a number of different software applications in the pursuit of time efficient workflows and goal orientated answers. Not easily impressed but willing to give each the same opportunities I have found that the Sportscode application has never failed to deliver.
    As an Ex-football analyst I have been party to many managers/coaches who demand certain outputs and differentiators NOW, not once your computer has re-started and you have logged it back in!
    There is a place within Analysis for many software variants especially when working in a financially restricted industry/area, but one must take care to not get too drawn on the emphasis of price when perhaps continuity and familiarity of the analysis process and methodology may be of greater importance.
    Coaching and performance analysis are getting ever closer from one year to the next and I believe that to be an “elite” analyst and to work with elite athletes you need to have the necessary coaching and psychological qualifications. This is where my current learning curve is focused but believe me, when I return to the analysis world for real, I will be ahead of the curve once again and will continue to use Sportscode as my software of choice.
    Now you know my stance, what is it that you do, are you the Academy analyst for Bath rugby or are you involved via the University?
    If you are filming match footage why not astute it at the same time, surely this is more time efficient?
    Apologies if this is a bit long winded, but I look forward to your reply.
    Kind Regards
    John K

  6. JohnK Says:

    Second to last paragraph should read “capture”, not astute.

  7. Darren Lewis Says:

    Hello JohnK,

    Thanks for your response. It seems your opinion is based on previous experience and the traditional view of the available tools. It is important to reevaluate the functionality and relative stability of the two operating systems at intervals. Current versions of Windows are robust and offer a flexibility of capture (e.g. through USB) and receive an array of video imports.

    As head analyst at Bath RFC, I understand coaches require immediate information (during training and matches) to allow them to effect change in the most positive way, so a reliable platform and product is crucial, I agree.

    The emphasis on continuity and methodology I also completely agree with, but as the video on this blog shows, the workflows to import XML’s, edit clips, timelines and movies are very similar and time efficient between the two products. The major difference is the cost. The introduction of fresh tools/ideas is great for sport and the PA industry; awareness and knowledge of existing tools is also important so that products can be evaluated and workflows and new methodologies can be developed between products which increases their value.

    Don’t get me wrong, the club has invested heavily in SportsCode and the Mac platform, but for many more reasons than one piece of software. However, in order for my performance analysis departments influence to develop, I need to provide synergy to the process applied at first team level, that are affordable to the local schools and organisations that hold the Bath Rugby players of the future. I know there is demand for a SAS solution outlined in the blog, and will be exploring this new option to cascade PA into the grass roots level of the game to underpin everything that I do for the first team.

    As I’m sure you may be well aware with elite sports facilities, having a desk for a live set-up, power and several camera feeds is almost a given, but local teams are highly unlikely to have the same level of facility or protection against the weather, nor do I or my academy analyst have time to go and film and live code these games, so empowering these organisations with a simple affordable camera, product and workflow is important for what I am trying to achieve at the club, and also why post match processes suit this particular situation perfectly.

    Great to hear that you are ahead of the curve, being an “elite” analyst is a combination of sport-specific knowledge, interpersonal skills and maximising budget and existing tools to their full potential.

    Darren Lewis

  8. Adam Cullinane Says:

    It is a common misperception that the Windows running system does not handle video analysis software and content in a comparable way to the Mac OS. There are a number of institutions using a combination of different systems installed on PCs and Macs delivering industry standard functionality; handling the same compressions and codecs that have become the connectivity to cross-platform and online solutions.

    There are reasons to dual boot your Mac to have both running systems available as mentioned in the blog. The Mac remains a leading running system with their native software (e.g. iLife) which are free and do an excellent job (affordability). A consideration with the Mac OS is, as they drive forward with their development of their infrastructure and native products very quickly: do the third-party software manufacturers keep up with the changes.

    I hope this provides clarification that you can run analysis products natively on a PC or take advantage of dual boot Mac to create industry standard outcomes.

    Adam Cullinane

  9. Darrell Cobner Says:

    To put my longitudinal experience into the mix, during the early 2000’s my productivity was regularly hit with instability of Windows 98 with erratic crashes daily, often in the heat of the live environment. The RFU shifted to Mac in 2005, following the Lions tour, which impacted effective turnaround time. Through continued exploration, the platform was maximised (working around any limitations) through constant awareness of the new tools and peripheral devices, and was a prime focus of my attention.

    Following this article for MacFormat magazine


    we experimented with the typical elements of the workflows in the field and were able to replicate the majority of elements we exploit on the Mac, on Windows 7 using the same peripheral devices. The audit revealed the gap has certainly closed with regard to stability and offered a huge flexibility for dealing with other sources of video streams, other than Firewire.

    The concept of a mixed-mode platform approach in PA is certainly an exciting prospect moving forward, and will drive the industry into a new era where video-based practice is becoming more popular. On reflection, it is important to have an open mind with regard to the options available, fully understand what you are trying to achieve and how to best achieve it (within constraints).


  10. Mark B. Says:

    Is Mac more stable than Windows for capturing and handling video?

    I don’t think so.. it was true before Apple moved to Intel to handle the system core CPU. A long time ago, all the software that was running on Mac was very stable, because the developers working on MAC platforms had a bunch of technical core specification that never changed, and therefore developed very stable software. However, since MAC moved to Intel we (software developers) all play with the same toys.

    This doesn’t mean that there is a problem with Intel. I only mean that the software that currently runs on Windows is now as stable as what MAC was using in the early days. Of course Windows, as a company, made mistakes like Windows Millennium or more recently Windows Vista, but the last Windows 7 and even the new Windows 8, which I have already played with, are very, very stable OS.

    Software is not organic in the way that one day it wakes up and doesn’t feel like working. Software is software and 2+2 will always equal 4. If something is developed and working in an OS, it should always work in the same way. So where is the “unstable” part of the software? From my point of view, it is the end-users behavior and bad developer interactions. It’s a fact that a Windows end-user has potentially so much more software in one Google search than MAC users.. I have seen so many times how a user has 4 DVD software players, 5 Codec Packs, 3 video converters and whatever number of any type of software.. just because he thinks that it will work better.

    For me, it is like if you go to the Gas Station with your car and you fill the tank with Gasoline, Diesel and Red Bull thinking it will run faster and because all of them are liquids. Would you blame the car manufacturer when the car stops?

    If you have common sense your computer (MAC or PC) will always work in the same stable way. Of course there are bugs, crashes and all kinds of errors, but today they occur in both MAC and Windows.

    “Downgrade” to windows sounds to me like a very old and out of date statement from the old MAC fans factory. I’m not sure about “you get what you pay for” regarding the software business. There are a huge number of reasons how a product price decision is made from the manufacturers point of view: target market, company growth, developing costs, technical support etc. Cheap = Bad ?? Maybe you can say that if you are talking about a t-shirt, but not if you are talking about software.

    It’s a very comfortable position for Sportscode users to say that they can use video in a stable way when they are only using video processes in .mov format and in QuickTime players. That was ok before… but now? Today? Can Sportscode use video in the same way with mp4, avi, mpeg2, m2ts, flv, m4v, mkv, asf ,wmv, mod format with any pre-process or conversion?? I know that Nacsport can do it. Sportstec has a great suite of products, but it now seems there is life out there, and more than one (expensive) option.


  11. Jarrad Griffiths Says:

    Another informative video on the site. Very interesting to see how easy it is to use the timeline on both Mac and Windows-based products.

    One of the major advantages of Nacsport is the affordable pricing, which would allow our club to have more ‘review/preview’ stations available for the players. It would be beneficial for use within an academy setup, to help the future players become accustomed to what is expected at first team level. I also like Darrens suggestion of taking the product around local schools etc. to help future players progress.

    I have been an advocate of the Mac platform, but with regards to Mac software being superior, I have recently experienced issues during matches. I am open to new process/hardware/software which would hopefully provide smooth running in my working practice. Moving forward, alternatives can only be a good thing for PA moving forward. Looking forward to seeing how this influences the industry.

    Jarrad Griffiths
    London Welsh

  12. Lee Dunn Says:

    Really good insight into how mac an pc platforms can work together to enhance your workflows. I don’t think Analysts should declare exclusivity to one particular platform, we can take the strengths of each and develop effective workflows that allow us to make a difference. We use a number of softwares and peripheral devices within our workflows simply because there isn’t one particular software that covers all the bases we wish too.

    The affordability of nac sport products will certainly enable me to develop our performance analysis structure to the academy age range whilst still enabling cross over with first team processes. Futhermore it will help to increase the players engagement within the performance analysis process via player review stations which before now haven’t been financially viable.

    I look forward to exploring the functionality of this workflow in the near future.



  13. Alexis Says:

    For what it is worth, I remember when SportsCode first started – I think I had the 2nd ever system that was sold. From working closely with the company founder (now departed) it was a very clear choice that Mac was used due to OS and hardware stability. If I recall correctly, it wasn’t just because of the software but also because of the consistency/stability of the hardware. This was back on OS9 in 1997.

    When SportsCode started it was a very simple application that did what it did very well. It still does, but it has also added a lot more functions, some of them very complicated.

    I’ve never used NacSport, but I have used a dozen or so different video management applications/system, as well as developing my own. In my experience the software is largely irrelevant, as long as it is decent. Vision and inquisitiveness are the differences. Vision stops you from going too far off course, and inquisitiveness enables you to not only deliver what is currently required, but to creatively interrogate what you have while keeping an eye on the future. I’ve seen coaches spend $100,000 systems and then use them for things that could almost have easily been done by connecting 2 VCRs together and making a tape. I’ve seen coaches with almost no budget (but vision and imagination) develop systems which 15 years later still have no peer.

    Show me a creative, inquisitive coach with a vision, and a creative, inquisitive Analyst and I’ll show you a great system, no matter what software, platform and workflow is used.

  14. simon.walling Says:

    I contacted Nac Sport directly to enquiry about how i go about obtaining a copy – to be passed onto Josh who runs this site – so im starting to think this blog is more of a sales tool for Nac Sport oh and Team Performance Exchange – which is fine i would just appreciate that we as keen analyst enthusiasts are told straight, especially when looking for independent advice.
    Just my 2 pence worth 😉

  15. Josh Bryan Says:

    Hi Simon,

    Apologies for your perceived deception. As the ‘about’ page addresses, the blog acts as a platform for communication and awareness of the tools and workflows used by vocational practitioners in the field.

    The site is slowly developing through a number of articles, reviews and comments from the UK and beyond, which shows the VPA blog represents an active and growing community who are engaging in healthy conversation around PA.

    Within this knowledge transfer, there is an opportunity for a vehicle for product placement of fresh software. These are new to the UK market and have been popular in NGBs to date. Therefore, in essence, this merely connects people to current trends in working practice. There are contributors who have endorsed their own views of which products are best, which emphasises a unique balance of what the blog represents.

    As a recent graduate actively looking for employment, I have sought and created my own opportunities to authentically impact the field and am attempting to operate as an independent consultant who can demonstrate products operating powerfully in practice. For confirmation, I do endorse sales and offer independent consultancy support to end users of Nacsport in the UK and also promote TPE, following my extensive pilot with it last season with UWIC RFC. I have high-end process skills on Sportscode and other software, developed throughout my course at Cardiff Metropolitan (UWIC) and have also sub contracted myself to other organisations in the search of field experience.

    During my academic progression, I was inspired by the application of PA and informed how it was steadily growing as an industry. I believe that PA can be made accessible to all parties and personally aspire to help cascade the processes to grass roots sport, schools and industrial domains. Ideally, as a long-term career, I eagerly await a direct role as a PA in rugby. In the meantime, I have invested my time in exploring commercial products, thus discovering niches in the market for new products/services along the way.

    I hope this transparency of my journey and aspirations answers your query and benefits the expanding number of participants and audience of the site. I have some pending announcements of more products emerging into the market which will add to the overall PA processes, too; so watch this space…

    Best wishes,
    Josh Bryan

    Visual Performance Analysis

  16. Martin Hastie Says:

    Having watched the video Nacsport looks like a good, affordable piece of software which I would look to use at Newcastle for our feeder clubs and schools. The affordability and the fact that it can be used in conjunction with sportscode will make it an excellent tool for this purpose allowing transfer of information up through our academy.

    Can’t wait to trial it.

    If I were to use it for coaches in our first team, my only question would be if it can work in a similar manner to sportscode when dealing with stacked videos, allowing free movement between the different camera angles?

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