We do all our opposition scouting on video. As an analysis department we have one video analyst, which is me, and one data analyst.
I provide all the video clips on opposition, training and matches.
In terms of the analysing opposition set-pieces, it is the data analyst’s responsibility to put together the attacking and defending set-piece report every week. We use our goalkeeping coach to work through the set-pieces. Goalkeepers are an integral part in terms of a set-piece, so on both sides of the ball he has a good starting point on that.
For me, I kinda piece it all together. I provide all the video clips to the coaching staff and they will filter through them, and I also prepare the pre-match presentation for the players with the staff.
We work a week ahead. So, if we were playing Sporting Kansas City this week and next week we are playing Seattle, we’ll present this week’s opponent to the players on the Tuesday, and once that is done I start working on the following week.
Our data analyst prepares a comprehensive set-piece report for the coaches and we will present these in a boiled down five-minute presentation to the players on the Tuesday.
We have access to Hudl and Wyscout, which is good because it has a set-piece platform now. The integration of Wyscout with the Hudl platform has not been finished completely yet but once it is completed it is going to make a big difference in how we can share things and how we can prepare and save time.
Right now we have to download video first and then upload it or code it and trim it down but once integration is complete there will be a button where you can literally go from Wyscout straight into Hudl, which is going to change everyone’s workflows.
It’s also better to now have all contact with both platforms through one person.
As it is now, we are able to locate footage and download it pretty quickly and put it into whatever presentation we need to do.
We also have a league video exchange which all the MLS clubs upload their wide-angle match footage to and along with that we have Second Spectrum, which the Premier League has as well.
We mostly use Second Spectrum to highlight and support what we are seeing on video through data and find any clips we would like.
Like most analysts I use Sportscode. I prefer to cut things myself so you are getting exactly what you want, and you can adjust things and control what you show and how you label it through your own software.
So I’ll download the wide-angle footage from the exchange. For the coaching staff, I always use the wide-angle footage but for the presentations we will put in the broadcast footage. We do that because it is what the players are used to seeing when they watch football, so they don’t need to adjust. It is more close up so you can see the numbers on shirts and identify players better plus the animations provided by Wyscout are only in broadcast.
In terms of our live game analysis on corners, we would look at five seconds before the ball is kicked and 10 seconds after – the reason I do this is to see what happens before the ball is kicked and also we are able to see the second and third phase. I have separate buttons for each type of set piece.
For opposition analysis using video, I code everything whilst I am watching the game. The reason I do this is to save time and be able to move onto the next game
I’m used to coding footage, it is what I’ve always done in my jobs, so I guess I partly do it out of habit but the big reason has to do with the terminology that we use.
So there will be terminology that I’ll specifically use with a certain coach which mirrors how we talk to our players in terms of our playing style but also how we communicate about the opponents.
For example, a Wyscout dataset may be titled ‘attacking style of play’, and that can be so many things and does not reflect how we analyse opponents.
So I try to filter to what we want and how we communicate using our terminology.
I have built my own code window. Whenever I work with a new coach or analyst there is always something that they do slightly differently so you can make changes to fit that. I’ve kept the same code window but just changed the terminology over the past three years.
So for our example with corners, I just pull out the corners.
You try to provide outside of that and give recommendations. So I will go through the corners and note down what I think for a discussion piece because at the end of the day the coach may ask what you think of that corner? Who do you think the main targets are? What movement are they making as well?
So you have always got to be prepared for that as well.
I don’t filter the corners specifically in terms of delivery or anything but we will look at the last four or five games and will see what they do from both sides of the pitch and see if it is consistent and that is how it appears in the report which has left and right side splits.
The beauty of using a scouting platform is that you can go back a whole season if you want to but for us, if we are looking at just pulling out clips to use, it is at least three games.
For the corners, we will look at eight games off the platform.
You can filter things quite quickly on the set-piece platform. So you can search for attacking corners from the right side for example and they will only show you those ones.
With Wyscout set-piece platform we are able to pull out any sort of animations on there as well.
We are lucky that we also have Coach Paint so that is a big help in terms of getting your point across visually.
We used it a lot last year to explain who the runners were, how many runners there are and who they leave top of the box and who they leave back, so the players have a clear understanding of who is doing what leading into that match.
Then when you get to the game, we go back through it again and have sheets on who is marking who and match up accordingly.
We can use that and put it into our presentation tool such as Keynote or Powerpoint and present to the players through that.
In terms of the presentation, we will start prior to the ball being kicked, identifying the runner and the starting positions of those players. We will talk about the runs that they will make.
Then that clip will play and we will talk as the clip is playing about the block.
I put in a pause before the ball is served and then after the ball is served but just before the first contact.
That way we can show the runs that the opposition players make and talk about them and give more detail on what they are trying to do. With the video you can see the start and end positions for each player.
I put the pauses in as part of the presentation. Our goalkeeping coach will normally present the set-pieces, so for him I put in a pause somewhere from between five and eight seconds.
So I put the one in before the ball is kicked so he can talk. I know it is a natural stopping point for me to manually pause the video as he is likely to speak for longer than five seconds, especially on the initial corner. Every corner after that, he will normally talk a little less.
I have a good idea of when he is done, so I stop it at the start of the five seconds and when I know he is starting to wind up what he is saying, I will press play again and then it will just run and by the time he stops talking, the video starts playing.
You get used to the people you are working with. You can figure out where they’re at in terms of how they are talking.
Then we will look at the second phase if it leads to anything. Obviously if the ball goes out from there for a shot we will keep it in there but also if the ball goes out for a second cross, then we will look at that as well.
More and more teams are now looking at third phase, if there is a third phase. If it has come out from a second cross then come back in.
I have been looking and talking with other people about how they are breaking down set-pieces as well and trying to figure out, how, from the tech side, of building a database of these set pieces. I am trying to put together an actual database where it is split against different types of marking, so then if we are playing a team that plays a zone I can find examples of teams worldwide that do the same thing.
That way we can see where zonal defending has been a success and try to build that out. So if we are playing against a team that goes man-to-man, what examples do we have of set-pieces that could work against a man-to-man system. Then the same for defending.