Nearly all of us have experienced the dreaded workplace performance review.
There’s nothing quite like sitting in your boss’s office, waiting to hear how you’ve performed over the year, to stir up a good old dose of anxiety!
However, most of us go home fairly unscathed, perhaps with few things to work on.
Sports performance analysis, on the other hand, is far more complex. And how we utilize it can even be career-defining.
So, what is sports performance analysis and why does it matter in sport?
WHAT IS SPORTS PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS?
Exactly as it sounds, performance analysis is an athlete’s version of a workplace review.
A review that happens every training session, match, fight, or game.
It is a specialized discipline that aims to provide objective and actionable information to athletes, and their coaches, to help improve and understand performance and minimize injury risk.
The process involves systematic observation which can then provide detailed and reliable information for athletes and coaches to use to their advantage.
WHY IS SPORTS PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS IMPORTANT?
In short, the analysis process can help to enhance both the quality of coaching, training, and all-round performance outcomes.
Because data provides a wealth of tangible information about the quality of the athletes’ work and helps improve tactics, movement quality, technique, and teamwork.
It can also improve knowledge and strategic thinking by understanding the strength and weaknesses of the athlete and their competitors.
Below, we summarize the two most common styles of performance analysis and their benefits.
- VISUAL FEEDBACK
Video analysis is commonly used in sports such as football, boxing, and sprinting.
Visual feedback allows an athlete (and their team) to assess movement quality, body positioning, reaction time, and pretty much everything in-between!
Imagine Anthony Joshua losing a fight. By slowing down a video of the fight itself, we can assess how the boxer moved, how they responded to punches, their footwork, punching quality and landing, and reaction time in response to movement of their competitor.
This provides his coach with a wealth of vital information for planning training sessions and working on the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete. The data also allows the athlete to assess their competitor to better prepare them for the next fight.
- DATA ANALYSIS
Data analysis uses stats and figures to provide extremely specific and accurate information on performance, such as split times (long-distance running) and percentage possession (football.)
Football analytics and technology are transforming the game, both on and off the field.
We’re now able to assess everything in minute detail, from pitch coverage and positioning to ball possession, assists, and pass accuracy.
This method of analysis can help coaches make more informed decisions around set plays, team formation, and opposition tactics.
Electronic Performance and Tracking systems can even track players# physiological parameters so that coaches can create specialized plans for each player! Using cameras and sensors, teams can now assess positional tracking data of the ball and real-time tracking data on both the referee and players. No stone is left unturned.
In fact, Benfica’s Caixa Futebol Campus even uses machine learning technology and predictive analytics (run on Microsoft Azure and alongside data scientists) to track everything from sleep, eating, speed, movement quality, weaknesses, strengths, and mental health.
Teams can not only use the data to better prepare a player for success, they can also capitalize on the transfer market by making calculated value predictions regarding current and potential players. 
 Sport Northern Ireland, Cited 04.01.2022, http://www.sportni.net/performance/sports-institute-northern-ireland/performance-science/performance-analysis/
 The Sporting Blog, Cited 01.01.2022, https://thesporting.blog/blog/the-use-of-technology-in-football-var
 Ars Technica, Cited 01.01.2022, https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/05/football-data-tech-best-players-in-the-world/