Why sports tech is shaping how management think this season at top SPFL club Raith Rovers
Interview with the Gaffer, Gary Locke, Assistant Manager, Darren Jackson & Development Manager, Craig Easton.
1. What would you regard as your biggest achievement as a coach?
Gary: Winning the cup at Hearts.
Darren: Getting to two cup finals.
Craig: Coaching young players through to the first team at Torquay United and then they went onto sign for Southampton.
2. How important do you believe technology is within football?
Gary: It’s massive. It has huge benefits for preparing players. It allows you to analyse your own performance. Players these days are in denial, they don’t think they’ve had a bad game as they can’t visualise or remember it correctly. If you can show them where they went wrong and how to improve then it will be invaluable to them. We also see how big a role technology plays for referees, it allows the referees to be supported on the field with their decisions.
3. Do you currently perform any time of video analysis within your roles?
Gary: Yes, we provide video analysis but it’s difficult due to resources we currently have available. We (Raith Rovers) are in the process of trying to improve how we communicate and feedback to the players as we think it’s vital to player and team improvement, this is why CoachCam is a great tool to have access to. The previous clubs I have worked at used video analysis all the time. For me it’s important to look at where we have gone wrong but also what we are doing well.
Darren has used it a couple of times specifically with the strikers to let them compare what we are working on in training to what actually happens in a game, so it’s been great in terms of looking at specific play. The players then understand what you are talking about a lot quicker when you show them the video, rather than just telling them. Video Analysis allows you to back it up.
Darren: At my previous club we didn’t use video analysis at all. He liked to do his thing and it worked but I really feel it does have value and a place in today’s game. It’s got an important place within the club here and going forward without a doubt. Prior to playing against one team we watched their set plays the night before in the hotel, the next day we won 6-2. If players see what they should be working on they can act on it. If you can view it, you can understand it. Actually seeing the players and the wider game, makes a huge difference to the players understanding.
Craig: I’ve not had the opportunity to use video analysis much before but as an ex player I’ve seen it develop over the past five / six years and it’s great. It really helps you understand the play and see the extra detail you are looking for to make you the better player. Using technology for younger ages U15 & U16-19s is particularly beneficial. Showing them little bits of their game, understanding how they work and which position they were in. Even the detail you can get from video analysis, you can see their body angle and body shape. Tactically it’s brilliant to see the pitch and see how they are moving as a team as well.
4. Do you think it’s important for Managers to understand and perform Video Analysis as well as the analyst providing feedback?
Gary: It’s different at Raith Rovers. At the bigger clubs you have someone to do everything for you whereas here we have to do everything ourselves. I also think it’s important to learn how each of the coaching team feedback to the players. In my career so far as a Manager I have had the opportunity to work alongside different Managers and coaching staff. We all have different views on how we should feedback to a player. In my opinion 15 – 20 minutes of video feedback is enough. Any more than this you lose their attention, they start looking at the ceiling and the floor and they are not taking in the information anymore. I’m always wary of the timescale of what we do and you have to get the points across that you feel will either win or lose the game for your team.
5. When do you provide feedback to your players?
Gary: Sometimes on the bus on the way back if it’s an away match. Very occasionally on a Saturday night, depending on what’s on. In the main, we wait a couple of days until the Monday. If it’s something that has been bothering me – I’ll get it sorted straight away on the Monday so you can look forward to the following week. You see things differently when you watch it. We put Craig (Easton) in the stand at the start of the game as you see it differently from the stands. When we review it, we look at it from all angles as it allows you to see more clearly what was going on in a larger context. I also use it before I go and speak to the press after a game. If something controversial happened I would look at it and it would allow me to communicate to the press correctly.
6. Do you analyse training sessions as well as games and opponents?
Gary: I would love to analyse training sessions. When I was at Hearts we used to but here we don’t have the resources. I wouldn’t record as a Manager during training sessions – that looks unprofessional for me. Even to ask the physio – it’s unprofessional. I would need to have someone to come in rather than one of the coaching team do it.
Craig: There is a place for it at training but it really depends on the situation.
7. What do you like about CoachCam?
Gary: There isn’t much I don’t like about it. I really love watching Monday night football analysis and how they go over everything. CoachCam makes it analysis like this possible. You can move players around and get them into position. Most analysis tools you can’t do that without paying for very expensive software but with CoachCam you can. So for me, I think CoachCam can be a massive help for us, simply because you can do so much with it. It’s brilliant for us if we want to show our players how to improve. We’ve got a young squad and they are into their technology.
Darren: It’s great for a Management team. It’s amazing.
8. What’s the best feature / tool to use on CoachCam?
Gary: Being able to move players around. The Cut & Move tool.
Darren: The Scene browser. You can save them and you can jump through your analysis points.
Craig: The frame by frame scrubber. You can see where the player was looking in terms of where everything is.
9. How will CoachCam be beneficial to the club?
Gary: For us we are in the middle of a transition at the moment. We’ve just brought Craig in. There hasn’t been a development team here before. It’s important that everything is the same at the club. The coaching styles should be different but in terms of preparation of players I want that to be the same for all the teams. If it ever comes to fruition, we hope that the U17s / U16s will also use CoachCam as it’s important to show them at this level what to expect at first team level. The players need to start looking at what is normal at first team level and video analysis is now part of that. So they get used to is, so if they do make it they are not over awed by it and they are used to it.
Darren: It changes the game. Previously teams would play the same formation so players knew where they would fit in. Now video analysis allows players to watch the game and learn new formations so they can fit in.
10. What is your top tip for coaches and using technology?
Gary: Don’t rule anything out. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything. Give everything a shot ‐ some you like; some you don’t like. If you think it will benefit the football club, then you have to use it.
Craig: Use it well and use it positively. Technology has changed a lot since we were players. It was always associated with negative feedback. Now it can be both even if you know you have had a bad day. There is nothing worse than getting bad feedback in front of the whole team.
Darren: As a player 14 years ago we didn’t have video analysis. As an agent, I didn’t have video analysis so it’s only really now I’m starting to use it. I just think it’s amazing. I want to get really into it and use it in a really positive way so for me it’s really quite exciting.