Firstly, a huge thank you to the guys who took the time to share their insights and experiences over the past six weeks. The purpose for sharing content like this is the hope that it may spark an idea in your mind, or act as a conversation starter for anyone who has the opportunity to enhance or embed video analysis processes in their organisation. A secondary purpose is to further demonstrate just how valuable video resources can be for a multitude of purposes and people.
Other than being namesakes, one commonality between Danny Cipriani, Dan Clements, and Dan Tobin is the sport they operate in, rugby union. Despite their use of video serving slightly different purposes, their engagement with video analysis has the same overarching goal and they seek to achieve it in similar ways.
Develop your understanding. For me, this is the primary thread that shines through from all three posts.
Searching for understanding is, I would suggest, an innate human trait. Deepening our understanding helps us to find and contextualise meaning that is pertinent to our own world. When it comes to solving simple or complex problems, such as the ones presented in sport, a logical first step is to understand the problem at hand before devising a potential solution. Here’s where video comes in, it allows us to re-live moments and find the meaning we need to move forward.
Failure to fully understand a problem will likely result in a delay or even failure to devise an efficient solution.
The Divine Detail, Purposefully Curious, and Informing Your Practice all reference the need to develop understanding by learning through video analysis. Armed with a clear understanding we can then set about creating well-informed and strategic plans.
Now, this may seem like an obvious statement to make, but the point for me is that there is a clear intention behind the use of video as a learning tool in each of the articles. Each one of the Dan’s had a clear aim for their use of video analysis. I’d also strongly suggest that studying intentionally can be the gateway to efficient planning or question answering, ie “the next bit” but sometimes that may not always be the case.
Often we turn up to analyse with some level of performance-related question or problem in mind and other times it may be some type of exploratory work. Having an idea of the end goal before you start will help you get there and layer detail to your understanding which will help the process be smoother.
Whether it’s analysing the specific structure of an upcoming opponent, the reflective practice of your own performance as a coach, or using video to identify, categorise and subsequently unpick the details of competition-specific scenarios, these are all information gathering processes. They all provide the opportunity to gain new knowledge to help inform your understanding and take you closer to achieving your desired goal.
The intention behind using video in purposefully curious was to aid self-reflection. Adopting an open mindset to information gathering in this sense can take high levels of curiosity, as Dan Clements shared with us. “Done really well, it can lead to enlightenment through the holding up of a mirror to your coaching performance and enrichment through a view of what you actually do”. If we are mindful to provide the right levels of support so that coaches can do that well, the rewards can be powerful. Being able to understand your own performance as a coach could be as beneficial as understanding an athletic one.
Another interesting point surrounding this need for understanding is Danny’s reference to the amount of time he’s spent physically playing rugby and analysing video. His lived experience of playing and practicing for a long period of time has provided Danny with a level of intentionality when he sits to analyse video. This has been developed over time. “It’s behavioural habits I look for the most when I’m studying video”. Being this deliberate helps him to look in the right places to find the types of information (cues) relative to him to give so he can “begin to build mental pictures in about the infinite situations the game puts you in”. Having these mental images and understanding the cues he is looking for is the transferable knowledge he needs to help him to capitalise in the heat of a game.
Add to that Dan Tobin’s appreciation that his particular performance “problem” was something that couldn’t be answered purely by him. There was a need for a collaborative approach given the overlapping demands of the specific situation he addressed. “Collaboration and aligned thinking may not be the tradition for many in the industry and the siloed approach will place clear restrictions on the development of the performance program”. Failure to completely understand the tactical demands of a certain position group would create a round hole square peg situation and as mentioned earlier, the potential to not offer a fully functional solution. The knowledge to solve this particular problem needed to come from different areas of expertise all working from the same video resource and toward the same goal.
A deeper understanding can act as a solution-building guide. However, I think it’s important to state here that whilst analysing video can play a huge role in this development, by allowing us to obtain knowledge and information, often video alone won’t quite do the trick.
The three examples highlight for me that it’s a combination of elements that need to come together to ensure that working with video creates powerful learning moments. The video resources act as the learning tool, deliberate intention provides the focus we need when we’re actually analysing and the final ingredient is a level of expertise to derive meaningful information to allow us to then approach the next bit fully armed. This mix of ingredients, I believe, is what we should be searching for.
As analysts then, it’s part of our job to support that process, which is another story altogether.