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Interview with Joseph Turley, Performa Sports


Why is analysis important in sport?

With about 60mins on the clock in the 2009 Heineken Cup Semi-final, Brian O’Driscoll intercepted a Ronan O’Gara long pass to run through a try between the posts. This wasn’t down to pure chance or good fortune, in O’Driscoll’s recent autobiography he highlights how his analysis of Ronan O’Gara allowed him to identify a subtle ‘give or sign’ if he was going to throw a long pass. This opposition analysis by Brian O’Driscoll allowed him to anticipate the destination of the pass before it happened, and when you watch the video back you can see how he had already started to sprint as soon as O’Gara double-tapped.


Brian O'Driscoll is chased by Ronan O'Gara 2/5/2009

Analysis done! O’Driscoll scored an important try in the Heineken Cup semi final win over Munster in 2009


To paraphrase a sporting cliché, ‘winning in sport is about the small margins’ yet research shows that coaches can only recall around 30% of what happens in a game. This is why analysis in sport is important and why live-game analysis is now an essential aid to the coach on game day.  We are each prone to subjective bias and we’ve missed 70% of the detail of performance, so the right objective data will help coaches make better informed decisions – that can be the difference between winning and losing.


How has technology impacted sports performance analysis?

Technology has had a significant impact on how we learn, interact, and work, which has all filtered into sport and analysis. In particular the growth of mobile technology and associated consumer products such as the iPad and Android tablets have become an enabler for all levels in sport to capture analysis and utilise video as a powerful means of performance communication and sports teaching.

We use technology to continually develop solutions for sports coaches, underpinned by speed and ease of use. In line with the rise of sports technology we are also finding that players/athletes are more aware of analysis and want access to any advantage that will help them to improve.


What is a Coach-Analyst?

Distinct from the manager, the traditional understanding of an analyst and coach is based in two separate roles, which continues to exist mainly in the elite and professional levels of sport. However over the past 2 years since we have been delivering our Level 3 CPPD module in Applied Performance Analysis with the University of Ulster we have seen the emergence of a hybrid role; the coach-analyst.

Sometimes they refer to themselves as inquisitive coaches, they know their sport and often have an intuitive ability to capture ‘coachable moments’. Ultimately they want to measure the impact of their coaching and want to use technology as a means of helping both themselves and their players/athletes to see more and better understand their performance.


How is analysis used in sports coaching?

We all learn in different ways but again this is being influenced by technology. So from my 4-year-old daughter using an iPad in nursery school to University students watching online video tutorials. Tablet and Cloud based technology such as Performa Sports allows objective data and video of performance to be combined, automatically creating video analysis which the coach can filter by player and combinations of events. Bringing the touchscreen to the touchline allows coaches to show video and data as trends to help the performer better understand – see what they’re doing or highlight role-playing as a visual guide.

Taking this further, it is important to recognise the role of the athlete in performance improvement and the power of self-discovery, and encouraging the ability to problem solve. Whilst analysis can be used to prioritise training and making session strategically relevant to performance strengths and weaknesses, it can also be used for player self-analysis. Allowing players to engage with their performance data and video along with coaching comments (not answers) increases player/athlete performance comprehension by around 70%.  Which helps to improve performance.


What does sports analysis solve?

Analysis alone will not guarantee success, you need to clearly define and test the key performance indicators that are formed as part of a strategic plan in conjunction with the other pillars of performance such as strength and conditioning, nutrition, tactics and athlete well-being, etc. It allows coaches and players to see more and establish a common understanding of performance. As a consequence this improves performance learning and with time it also highlights trends that benefit tactics and the modelling to types of coaching interventions.

On the day however, real-time performance analysis can be a game-changer.


Performa Sports

Performa Sports is an innovative sports technology business focused on evolving the role, speed, ease-of-use and function of mobile and cloud technology as a game-changer in sports performance analysis.


The company has a strategic education partnership with the University of Ulster and co-delivers a Level 1 Coaching with Performance Analysis and a Level 3 CPPD Module in Applied Performance Analysis


Based in County Armagh, the company’s performance analysis iPad application and integrated Cloud platform is currently deployed in 98 Countries across Soccer, Rugby, GAA, Hockey and Tennis. We believe in opportunity and accessibility for all levels to engage with performance analysis and are proud to work with an international base of grassroots to professional level clubs, these include Major League Soccer Club Houston Dynamo, Celtic FC, Armagh GAA, Clare GAA, Galway GAA, Meath GAA, Crossmaglen Rangers, Tennis Ireland, Grosvenor Grammar School, West Bromwich Albion FC, Annadale Hockey Club, Craig Bellamy Foundation Football Academy (Sierra Leone) and the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey team.


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Performa Sports is used by some of the biggest teams both Nationally and Internationally


Joseph Turley is a co-founder of Performa Sports and holds a BSc in Sports Studies and an MSc in Communications and Marketing, both from the University of Ulster.


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