Innovation is often best manifested when there is the realisation that a current practice can be improved on and the ingenuity to affect that improvement.
There are countless football clubs who video training sessions but the bulk of these rely on volunteers standing on the sidelines with their camera.
This is a working set-up but far from ideal so some started looking for a better solution. “We make use of a GoPro during matches,” says Tas Raza of Remarkables FC, a ladies five a side team based in Cape Town, South Africa.
“With traditional handheld cameras, you usually need to have someone filming and that’s not always possible. In a 5 a side format, a GoPro works perfectly as the pitch is small enough to see all the action at either end.”
Blueprint for Football: First off, can you tell me a bit about your club? What age categories you cover and what level you play at?
Tas Raza: Our club was formed just after the 2010 World Cup and we’ve been competing in five a side leagues around Cape Town ever since, with a fair amount of success! We’re
primarily an amateur team consisting of ladies who are either students or young professionals in varies careers. Our youngest is 17 and our oldest is 34, so there is a range of different qualities amongst the players. Most of the older girls play for the love of football and the younger girls are there to develop their football talent and learn from the more experienced players.
We are made up of one team at the moment, but actively look to promote women’s football in Cape Town by hosting mixed tournaments, pick-up games every Sunday and encouraging new girls teams to join the local leagues.
We eventually want to build an academy for women in Cape Town who either want to start playing football or want to improve their current ability. Of course our first step is to find a sponsor or partner who shares our vision for women's football in South Africa!
BfF: At what age do you start using video technology?
TR: The youngest player we’ve had was 15 when she joined, and we began using video analysis with her in the same way we did the rest of the team. The aim is to get players used to self-analysing themselves every week and to determine their strengths and weaknesses; where they went wrong, what situations created problems and most importantly how they can correct their problems or maintain their success.
BfF: What forms of video technology do you use? And how does this differ in the different age groups?
TR: We make use of a GoPro during matches. With traditional handheld cameras, you usually need to have someone filming and that’s not always possible. In a 5 a side format, a GoPro works perfectly as the pitch is small enough to see all the action at either end. We can also adjust the position, angle and height of the camera very easily and don’t have to worry about it being manned for the duration of the game.
When it comes to age groups, the difference would lie in the way the feedback is delivered
to the audience. I personally think video can be used amongst most age groups as long as you know your audience and how to make it engaging for them.
Showing junior players the goals they’ve scored in a “Match of The Day” style highlights package (even if it’s from the training ground or holiday clinic) could be a great way to engage kids - another form of positive reinforcement.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to test whether it would be successful or if any clubs in Cape Town are doing something similar in junior set-ups, but I think it would be interesting.
We also make use of Prozone software called GameLens which allows us to import the video, code and tag certain events, cut clips and feedback to the ladies on one platform. Again, it depends on what I’m trying to achieve out of the feedback and what’s relevant.
The software is great when trying to identify things like where and how possession what lost/gained on the pitch. I can group those clips together and immediately find any trends or predictability in our own play, or with the opposition.
BfF: Who prepares the analysis and what sort of training does he have?
TR: I prepare the analysis for the team along with the coaching tasks. I usually have a helping hand on match days, but as the recording is un-manned, I don’t have to worry about the video logistics and can simply review footage in the evening after the game.
I work for Prozone Sports (Cape Town) and therefore have my Prozone Performance Analysis Levels. The ladies team provides an incredible platform for me to test different methods of feedback and see what works and what doesn’t.
BfF: How do you deliver the video analysis? Is this something that you do one to one or is it something that is delivered to the whole group?
TR: This depends on who I am delivering feedback to and what I want them to take out of the feedback session. On some occasions, I will have one on one sessions with players if I feel there is something they need to improve on individually. This can be anything from their decision making in certain areas of the pitch, to studying their technique with regard to ball control, shooting and body shape when defending.
If we’re facing a tough team or about to play an important cup match, I’ll run the whole team through 3 or 4 clips before kick-off on only one specific aspect of their game. This ensures there isn’t information overload before a match and the ladies are visually prepped for what we’ve either practiced during training sessions or discussed prior to the match.
Once you get to know your players, you are aware of the most effective way to get information across to them, whether that’s through one on one sessions or together as a group.
BfF: If you deliver the analysis to the whole group, how do you handle criticism to players?
TR: When I’m delivering to the group, it’s very much an open discussion. Firstly, I make sure everyone understands why I’ve chosen specific clips and then get their thoughts on their individual contribution and how it affected the team in either a positive or negative way.
It’s important for the players to understand that video sessions aren’t only there to point out their mistakes or to criticise their performance, but to help them improve their future performances. Part of this process is to build solid relationships with your players so they are aware that any criticism you give them is constructive and you’re there to help them improve as footballers and as a team.
If I have a player that has been under-performing or not following specific instructions, I try to show them two sets of clips if possible: one example of them making the right movement, followed by a clip or two where they haven’t quite executed it correctly. I find this helps them visualise the difference and identify the other cues in that scenario that they may not have picked up during the match.
BfF: Why are you going down this route? What do you think are the benefits of using technology?
TR: Making use of video technology and feedback is a massive help, not only to the players, but to me as the coach as well. That’s one of the reasons I don’t mind doing the analysis myself. During a match there are all sorts of events happening on and off the ball and it’s impossible for me to be aware of all of them. Making use of video allows me watch the whole game again with a fresh set of eyes and make more objective decisions after the intensity of being pitch side.
I can cut clips and put them on my tablet to show players at almost any time. With messaging tools such as Whatsapp and online tools like Dropbox, I can also send short clips to the group of that evening’s goals or positive build ups etc.
For the players, it gives them a chance to visualise their performance from a different view point, review their actions/clips as many times as they like and build a greater understanding of their overall contribution to the team.
BfF: How often do you deliver this analysis? Is there a point where it becomes repetitive and the benefits diminish?
TR: I try not to overdo analysis and feedback. Doing too much tends to overload the players to the point where the benefits can definitely diminish. Too much information or clips that are too long can result in players losing concentration pretty easily. Feedback sessions can be fairly regular; however they also need to be relevant and interactive. You can’t simply sit a team down, press play and have them watch the whole match again and assume they’ll pick up anything.
I make sure my clips are short and stick to a particular topic, in the similar way coaching sessions are structured. I deliver analysis once a week and it’s either based on the opposition we are playing or aspects of our last game. Again that depends on what I’m looking to get out of the session.
BfF: Do you check with the players to see how they are receiving it?
TR: I’m lucky in the sense that the group will tell me if they don’t understand something or if they want me to explain something in a different way. This goes for video clips or even drills on the training pitch.
It’s a continuous process to ensure the players are receiving the feedback well or if something needs to change or evolve. I find open lines of communication are key and I’m currently in the process of creating a system which will monitor my players’ progress and provide them with constant feedback and reports where necessary.
Follow the progress of Remarkables FC on Twitter.