The coaching life and the need for analytics

Outside of work, I spend a lot (arguably too much) of my spare time volunteering at my local football club Sandiacre Town, where currently I am very lucky to have the opportunity to coach the u15’s, as well as being the vice chairman. Sometimes it feels like another full time job (although without the money), but it is something I find very rewarding, and it is great when others can benefit from something that you enjoy doing.

Every Sunday morning from September-April, I get up, come rain or shine, and spend time with a wonderful bunch of lads who I’ve had the pleasure of coaching the past few years. By no means are we taking the world by storm, but we have definitely grown as a team and improved in terms of ability. Off the field, it’s a pleasure to watch them grow as individuals as well as players, and again, I feel very lucky to have made some friends for life.

It’s all voluntary and something I do purely out of a love of football and passion for coaching, having studied the subject at university. It’s sometimes difficult to keep everything separate, especially on Monday evenings when I get changed at the Esker office, put my STFC hat on (sometimes literally) and then head straight to training and switch into my coaching mentality, ready for the evening’s session.

Whilst results are becoming more important as the team matures, I’m primarily tasked with the challenge of improving each boy from A to B in the hope that together we can improve the team. But how do I measure that? I have my experience in terms of knowing they have improved, but there is a huge demand for analytics in order to monitor performance as otherwise, everyone has to take my word for it.

Data and analytics are key at any level of football. At the elite level, the amount of analysis that goes on is quite staggering in terms of looking at the opposition, much like our customers want to gain competitive advantages over theirs by improving their own visibility and reporting on KPIs/metrics.

Even at the grassroots level that I coach at, without sight of the fundamentals of my season with the boys, other than what’s in my head, I would have no idea on the state of our improvement or where we are at in terms of development. Things like league tables, goalscorers, team sheets, fixtures and session plans are absolutely crucial to the season and monitoring player development.

Without these tools and having the visibility of the season and how we are progressing, it would make life incredibly hard, as it’s all pretty much guesswork.

Just like any process that our customers are looking to improve – it’s almost meaningless without any data or analytics behind it, given there needs to be some substance for what the solution is providing.
It’s ok knowing sales orders are being processed a lot quicker for example, but that in itself doesn’t tell you how many orders, for which customer, what format, level of priority, order number, order amount, line items etc.

That’s where dashboards and reports can give you an instant overview of exactly what is occurring at each stage of the process. After a game, I can access the league tables every weekend to see how we compare based on the results we’ve achieved. You then have a clear indicator of where you need to get to, in order to achieve the target, or whether you are there already and therefore can maintain that level.

Plus, I store all the session plans I create electronically so it’s easy for me to refer back to a past session, or for if I need pointers at any time, much like Esker storing documents in an archive for future retrieval.
Without that I have no record of the sessions I have delivered, how it went, and nothing to refer back to for guidance.

I know I’d be lost without the visibility I have at my fingertips if truth be told!

It’s actually crazy to think there would be a link at all between coaching football and document automation, but maybe they have more similarities than we think. Maybe that explains why, when I get home on a Monday evening, I sometimes feel like I’ve been at work for 12 hours!

Wouldn’t change it for the world though, even if the picture suggests otherwise.

Dan Weston

Dan is a Business Development Manager for Esker UK. He has been part of the Esker family since 2013.

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