Last time Joe Trinsey, expert volleyball coach and elite statistician, talked a little about how he began using data in his coaching and outline a simple way to implement it. Let’s continue that conversation as he gives a little more insight into video analysis, simplifying the data, keeping up on trends and looking to the future of tech in sports.
For a coach who hasn’t really implemented video analysis, where should he or she begin?
Set up a video camera and record your next match. You don’t need to edit it, stop it between points, zoom, or follow the action. (For high school or club coaches, getting a parent who will just set the camera up and not touch it or follow around their son or daughter is a challenge. Just find an angle where you can see the whole action – both sides – and let it run!) After the match, transfer it to your computer, open it up in whatever media player, (I like VLC as the hotkeys shift-left/right allow you to easily skip forward and backward a few seconds) and start watching a particular aspect of your game. Two areas I would suggest watching are:
- Look at each time you receive serve and your sideout offense. Is your setter taking a good path to the pass? Are the sets in a good spot or too wide/too tight? Are hitters taking good approaches or too early/late/fast/slow?
- Look at your defense. Are they in the right spots? You’d be amazed at where some of your players end up the first time you watch them on video!
Nowadays, it seems that the amount of data is only growing with the technology that is available. What advice would you have for a coach who’s looking to improve his or her team?
This is absolutely a huge issue, not just in sports, but in life today. Information is only as good as it drives action. I actually presented on exactly this issue at the “Training the Gap” conference [link to http://trainugly.com/trainingthegap/ ] earlier this year.
And what I talked about before in the previous blog post was that coaches need to do two things:
- Determine the most important areas of performance for their team. They can do this with data (statistical reports, etc.) or through experience.
- Direct data toward improving performance in that area. Don’t get distracted by 100 other things, but focus on what will move the dial.
In conjunction with that, they also need to know what data is actionable and what isn’t. It’s great to know that Suzie had 14 kills, but what am I going to do with that information? Tell her to get more kills? Looking at information that can help me make a tactical adjustment (hitters score at a 50% rate against this blocker, but only at a 20% rate against this other blocker) or a coaching adjustment (Johnny is hitting 0.500 down the line but is making 20% error crosscourt) will lead to improved performance. Everything else is just journalism.
I look a lot to what other sports are doing, and how they are applying technology, and see how that could transfer to us. There’s so much more money invested in sports like baseball, soccer, football and basketball. They are naturally going to be significantly ahead of volleyball in certain areas. Just like sports have always stolen from business (sports teams didn’t start making computer databases to track statistics until the 90s or even 2000s, when that was being done in business circles as soon as computers were invented) because there’s so much money and advanced technology there, lower-budget sports can look to other sports and see what can translate.
What kinds of technologies do we hope to see in the future related to training? Scouting? Team functionality?
I think a technology with potential is computer vision. So instead of a hand-coder doing everything, it would all be done by computer. The advantage of this would be automated tracking of the path of the ball and of the players. For example, we’d be able to automatically track the speed of sets to different hitters and tie that into hitting efficiency. We’d be able to see how quickly blockers react to a set and how quickly they move. We’d be able to analyze float serves and compare velocity vs “break” due to float. Some or all of these things can be done now, but they must be hand-tracked by human beings and it is very time-consuming, and the data cannot get to the coaches quickly.
I also think biomechanical analysis still has a long way to go in volleyball. In baseball, they are studying everything there is to know about a pitcher’s arm swing to see how to make it more efficient to reduce injury and increase velocity. To my knowledge, nothing systematic like that is being done in volleyball yet, apart from isolated studies here and there.