Improving performance. Lessons from US sport


Following on from our discussion yesterday about adopting one or two of the techniques the enormously successful GB Olympic cycling team there are other areas where a technical advantage can be sought.

Football is awash with metrics these days.  Clubs know things about their players they never even wondered about 10 years ago, leading to more informed decisions.  It is probably no exaggeration to suggest that a club like Celtic will have some information on thousands of players.  At the top level, much of this information will be fresh in the minds of coaches and scouts, and will easily be recorded on a database, but scouting permeates through youth football.  Acquiring and assimilating information on the many hundreds of players on view each month is an information challenge.

The US sports were early to get on top of this problem.  SportsBoard is a iPad-based data capture and management app which enables coaches and scouts to record information on players (their own players and others) as they watch the game.  Data is uploaded from the iPad to a cloud-based database.  Information and comment on each player or opposing team can then easily be analysed.

The alternative would be to scour through unstructured notes without any way of controlling the up-flow of information.

The app has also been used to provide instant metrics to first team squads.  Players can get home from training, login and see how their performance was rated that day, allowing them to adjust their own target for the next session.  I spoke to the designer, Gregg Jacobs, who has received a ton of media coverage in the US over the last two years.  He told me this was about providing “more meaningful feedback”.   Take a look at the Assessment and Contact Management features, which has screenshots of the ‘soccer’ app.

So this week we’ve covered orthopaedic pillows on tour and leg heaters from the GB cycling team, as well as a scouting management and instant metrics system from US sports, all low-cost and designed to reduce risk and improve performance.

Should we do it?
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  1. Paul67



    Maybe if modern day players done more than 2 hours a day training, before going for a game of snooker or playing the xbox they would stay healthy…

  2. The Bhoy Jinky/ South of Tunis



    I responded to both of you at the end of the last article.



    I don’t know how to copy n paste from my I-phone.




  3. hearts now sold 10,000 tickets for the semi-final this weekend.



    I wonder how many St Mirren and ourselves have sold so far?

  4. Tim Malone Will Tell on

    If we signed Yuji Ono – would we get a new poster called “AweNawNoOnoOanAnawNoo”?

  5. I would be surprised (and disappointed) if each of our players is not handed personalised instructions to hone the weaker parts of their make-up on a regulat basis.



    Is the psychology aspect not addressed with the McGuinness chap added to the staff?

  6. Paul67



    The app has also been used to provide instant metrics to first team squads. Players can get home from training, login and see how their performance was rated that day,




    Good job this technology was not available in Willie Garner’s day.hh

  7. Any advantage and analysis should be used. We are in a competitive market and have to use all the technology at our disposal.


    Anyone seen Moneyball? Fascinating into statistics in Baseball. Could this be adopted in football?




  8. Nuclear Bovril and a Half Munched Pie on

    business cliche ahoy…



    sometimes you’re better improving 100 things by 1% than 1 thing by 100%



    In other words get the electric breeks ordered.

  9. Livibhoy



    “I’m just a little bit caught in the middle.


    Life is a game and love is a riddle.”




  10. Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they never get it wrong.



    Works for your golf game too…

  11. Re UK cycling


    For years the cycling teams spent millions on fine tuning their bikes, trying to shave grams off the weight and making them more aero dynamic. Larger sums were spent on decreasing returns. Team GB diverted the money from that to spend on improved fitness training, diet, etc and have since had massive improvements. They certainly are the template to work from.

  12. Paul



    I was attended a physio last year.. He used to work at celtic … Not scotty



    He asked me if the players warmed up in long trousers. I said mostly not and broony had short sleeves



    He said he fell out with the mgt team over this issue… Also that players should not be allowed near a ball until muscles properly warmed up as laces through the ball can easily tear a cold thigh muscle

  13. Paul,


    interesting subject area……



    It always annoys me when I see players being substituted (injured or not) who then go sit on the bench. In my view, they should go inside right away and warm down properly. But they will sit there, cold and immobile for up to 30 minutes….! Madness, especially if they have come off with a knock.



    On an aside, I watched the latest Clint Eastwood film on a plane this past week. Sports (baseball) movie that was the opposite of Moneyball. ‘Trouble with the Curve’. Old school versus new school. No prizes for guessing what school Eastwood went to…….

  14. Glendalystonsils likes a mr whippy with his lime green jelly on

    Paul 67


    Perhaps we should ask David Murray for a few tips on how to gain an advantage, he seems to know a few tricks.>)

  15. TinyTim .



    Thank you . Thanks for the information and the advice .My mind is not closed



    My last contact with an Estate Agent cost me money . West London 1999 , about to sell a property , took advantage of a free valuation offer . Nice Yuppy chap turned up in a fab pin stripe suit . My English Bull Terrier met him in the garden and ripped the poor man’s trousers. Suit was a bespoke Oswald Boateng , I felt obliged to pay for a new pair of trousers

  16. yorkbhoy,



    Were the special bike wheels that the UK cyclists had not partly responsible for their success at the olympics. I remember hearing that the French team was very upset when they found put that they were actually made in France

  17. Nuclear Bovril and a Half Munched Pie on

    I heard an interview with the great Michael Johnson (no not the Killie Pie, the Olympic multi-gold medalist, top pundit and all round good egg).



    He was asked about his unusual running style and if anyone had been attempted to coach him out of it. He said that although stats were very useful he warned of ‘paralysis by analysis’ where the stats took over everything else. The stats said he shouldn’t be running like he was but hey, look at the medals.

  18. There’s a few famous golfers who had ‘horrible’ swings, doing it ‘by the book’ isny always right.



    Wee Forrest runs like big Jessie but no many can catch him.

  19. weeron



    12:36 on


    21 January, 2013




    interesting subject area……




    The same could be said for the subs coming on. Again sat for 80 mins in the cold, fowed by a few minutes running up and down the line.



    Go inside and warm the muscles up before stretching, sprinting and kicking or in SPL being kicked.

  20. ArranmoreBhoyLXV11 on




    MSM watch.



    Herald has Sevco front page of main paper and sport and a pic of Lenny (p9 of main paper)in Sally’s face at the infamous game when the sleekit one was putting the boot in but Neil copped it..



    Propaganda in overdrive .. Disgusting ..



    Makes me love it more we re so far ahead..




  21. South of Tunis



    I met that type regularly during my corporate life.



    I can empathise with your dog.




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