The 3 top things you need to ask yourself, before upgrading your sports video analysis system

2018-02-23 Customer cases, Product, Technology

Are you a coach seeking to improve video feedback and analysis, but like many others experience stress and frustration over wasting time, struggling with technology and still not getting good footage? In this post we are listing 3 important areas to consider when you are looking at investing in or upgrading your sports video recording and analysis setup.

Video in sports performance development – great potential but comes with a lot of challenges.

Today video is used extensively as a tool across all sports for athlete and team performance development and used properly, it drastically increases efficiency in the coaching process and improves athlete communication.

However, working with video usually also involves a lot of inefficient manual work and complicated tools. Coaches and analysts feel stress and frustration over wasting valuable time with legacy systems, messing around with equipment, tripods, and file formats, instructing camera operator etc. The time that should be spent on the field together with the athletes/players – who in turn get frustrated, lacking the right type of feedback and input to improve and develop.

So as a coach what do you do? With lots of different parameters to consider, where do you even begin?

#1 What type of video do you want to capture and even more importantly – in what context?

Well, for starters you need cameras of course. You could go for handheld DVRs, small action cameras, fixed cameras, pan-tilt-zoom cameras, using broadcast camera input, using your mobile phone, drone cameras or why not balloon cameras… The choices are endless, but at the end of the day it comes down to what you want to capture, and in what context?

For individual sports, a good optical zoom (>10x) and high framerate (>50 fps) is of the essence. A coach in team sports typically has more problems with things like footage being too zoomed in (or out).

For team/field sports, you need to be sure everything is captured regardless of when and where it happens on the field. This typically you would get from a setup using wide panorama high-resolution cameras, ideally also synched with footage from different angles.

Another important consideration is if you mainly are capturing training or match/competition. Anything that you want to use daily (like training) must be extremely low maintenance and bring a minimum of manual work (like charging batteries, dealing with memory cards and cables etc). Otherwise, it likely ends up stored away in a locker somewhere and not being used to the full potential.

#2 When do you view and use the video material?

Fundamentally this all boils down to having easy and fast access to the right video and data, at the right time.

E.g. to really take advantage of video as an efficient and objective coaching tool, you want to provide live video feedback immediately to the team or individual athletes – ideally, live on the field while a situation is still on top of everyone’s mind.

For team development, the video can be used before, during and after match/training to e.g. adjust a game plan, follow up on tactical concepts, scout competition etc. For individual learning and motivation, it is very important to be able to visualize improvements over time, so easy and fast access to historical footage is important (this applies also to sports biomechanics screening, injury prevention, and rehab)

Distribution of material is another challenge. When working with teams an efficient method for sharing footage and data, to a coaching team and/or player is crucial and sometimes also extends even to sharing across a whole league.

#3 How do you make it a part of your current workflow and coaching process?

Regardless of the setup of your video analysis capabilities, the success will ultimately be defined by how well you manage to integrate it into the overall workflow and coaching process. For large organizations, this is often turning out to be the biggest challenge.

Capturing of video, data and statistics, followed by performance analysis (team and individual) and then collaboration around the material are all key components in the process. The efficiency in each step and the information handover between these steps will determine how successful you are.

Case study for team/field sports – football

When wrapping up the 2016 season, coaches and analysts in the Swedish first league in Football got together and identified improved capabilities for video capture and analysis on a league-wide level as the top of the wish list for next season. To summarize the requirements:

  • Context – to get live video of every inch of the pitch, multi-angle capture, and availability to use it for all trainings and matches. Footage from TV cameras was available, but not useful enough for deep tactical analysis (and not available for training of course).
  • Usage and viewing – it had to be available and easy to use by any coach, on a daily basis. In addition, it should be possible to share footage easily with players and distribute it across the whole league
  • Process – it had to fit well with how both first teams and academies worked, and leverage the existing tools that the clubs were using (e.g. for making detailed tagging and creating presentations)

As a result, the Swedish Football League, Svensk Elitfotboll, 2017 signed with Spiideo to equip every arena in the first and second league (Allsvenskan/Superettan) with a system that delivered high-resolution 4k Virtual Panorama footage of the entire pitch from multiple angles. This experience was then provided live during the match to every league club and was also used for official match tagging, player tracking etc.

“This is a great tool for both performing tactical team analysis, and to be able to improve individual player skills thanks to the flexibility to watch a situation in detail wherever you want on the pitch.”, says Stefan Lundin, Sports Director Svensk Elitfotboll 

Now the coaching staff use the system (with fixed mounted cameras) as a part of the everyday work process and record a match or training, while using a tablet or a mobile phone to review sequences or player positions from different angles in real-time and make notes/tags/drawings or share clips etc. Here is how some coaches are using it in their daily work