In recent years, football has evolved immeasurably, none more so than the introduction of VAR and the ever-shifting laws in the top flight. But as the game continues to modernise throughout the pyramid, one area that has had to follow suit is performance analysis.
Recent statistics have revealed that players do not run any further than they used to, but they run a lot faster, with a greater number of accelerations. The modern game is played at a steady pace interspersed with moments of explosiveness, and while this has arguably improved the quality of the game, it has also increased the risk of injury.
The gathering of data has become a fundamental part of any football club’s backroom team, as decision-making is often made with the aid of statistics. In today’s day, performance analysis technologies have made capturing data a seamless task, with innovative tools such as GPS monitors and ProZone pioneering the industry.
In the Coasters camp, those responsibilities lie in the hands of Andy Taylor, who has recently transitioned away from the playing side of football to take on a Performance Analyst role within the club.
Speaking to afcfylde.co.uk about his new role, he said: “We do a lot of work from a performance analysis perspective, analysing the GPS data to monitor training and match loads, which affects the design of training on a day to day basis. The GPS has been a really important monitoring tool for us this season, giving us the ability to keep tabs on where the lads are at fitness-wise; and ensuring we find the right balance between overtraining and undertraining.
“Sports science also falls under my remit, which is predominantly led by David Norris with some input from myself. Our sports science work helps us identify what physical aspects each individual needs, whether that be explosive power work or high speed running.”
A large part of Andy’s role is also video analysis, ensuring that all games are filmed, clipped and made accessible to each player. Andy believes that the financial investment that has gone into the performance analysis department at Mill Farm will help the club achieve its long term goals:
“Video provides a great way to get messages across to the players on how we want to play, highlight areas of improvement, but also with the use of individual clips, offer a new way of learning.
“We are in an extremely fortunate position in that we have the facilities and set up to be able to implement a performance strategy. We have recognised that for us to take full advantage of our full-time status in this league, we must maximise the fitness levels of our players.
“As coaching staff, we have physical markers that we feel the players need to hit in terms of total distance covered, high-intensity runs, accelerations and decelerations. Those markers heavily influence the design of our training sessions, which is all geared towards getting the players in the best physical state going into a game.
“Each morning before training, the coaching staff have a goal-setting meeting to highlight aspects that we want to hit and areas we’d like to cover. GPS monitoring then tells us whether we have hit those aspects or not.”
Transitioning away from the playing side of football can be a challenge, but Andy has taken the role in his stride, recently providing assistance to Nick Chadwick who has stepped into Jim Bentley’s shoes during his temporary absence. Juggling several roles is something that the former full-back is now used to:
“Coming into the role, I knew that Jim would at some point have to take time off for his operation and therefore I’d have to step up into an assistant manager’s role to support ‘Chaddy’. I have relished the exposure and the experience that this period has brought. I think in any walk of life, there’s no better way of learning than being thrown in at the deep end.
“It’s been a difficult transition away from the playing side, which I have discussed numerous times with Chaddy. It’s never an easy period, but I’m looking at this as an unbelievable opportunity for myself to be in at the deep end.
“Everybody has the same challenges during the transitional phase, and for me, this is a great chance for me to figure out what path I want to go down. I feel as though I’m growing into the role every day. It’s a case of soaking up as much knowledge as I possibly can from both Chaddy and the gaffer, whilst trying to add value to the department.”