Opposition Analysis and Performance Analysis – What’s the Difference?

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A performance analysis department might look something like this:

This is a question we often get asked here at The PFSA and in this article, we’ll aim to explain some of the key differences between opposition & performance analysis in order to provide a deeper understanding of this area.

So, what’s the difference?

Performance analysis provides an overarching assessment of performance in order to develop an understanding of actions that can inform the decision-making process’. Analysis is undertaken to optimize performance, support the coaching process, improve player performance & help deliver the coaches philosophy.

Opposition analysis is based around the same principles but focusses on the identification of opposition strengths, weaknesses & strategic approach. This information can then be used to optimise performance through the creation of a specific game plan.

The opposition analyst would focus on dissecting each opponent, providing specific insight to every match day. Once the game is completed, a performance analyst would review the game and pick out key moments that link to the game plan & the teams over riding strategy. A team’s strategy is generally more consistent throughout a season rather than changing on a week by week basis.  For example, if a team’s strategy is based around crosses, the performance analyst would spend a lot of time reviewing crosses throughout the season.

Early analysis departments would often spend more time working on opposition analysis. However, in the last few years we’ve seen a shift towards a more even approach. Some of the bigger teams even have specific training ground analysts that simply analyse every training session or work solely on set pieces or with data sets.

A performance analysis department might look something like this:

A performance analysis department might look something like this:

A performance analysis department might look something like this:

A performance analysis department will have a fairly consistent workflow throughout a season with each match restarting the cycle.

How does a performance analysis department function?

The opposition analyst will always be working ahead of time. So let’s say it’s Monday &  we are playing team A that weekend then team B the following weekend. The work on team A will have already been delivered and now the opposition analyst will be working on team B.

Throughout the week, the training analyst will be filming and reviewing every training session. Video clips (especially from tactical sessions) can be used during meetings to help clarify the coaches message / correct anything that isn’t quite right – again with the aim of being completely ready to execute a game plan for that weekend.

Once we reach matchday & the team sheets have been reviewed, the players might take in a final few clips specific to their direct opponent(s) on that day. The manager might re affirm his key messages & then the game begins.

During the match, the role of performance analysis is to identify tactical trends, see if the team is executing the game plan & then question / feedback to the coaching staff why a game plan may or may not be working. Common reasons why a game plan might not be working include: players not executing their instruction properly or the opposition deploy a different tactic / formation than expected. It’s up to the analysis department to identify these ‘issues’ & feed that information back to the bench. The role of analysis is to be evidence providers rather than decision makers, the final decision is always made by the manager.

Once a match is finished, a post-match review will be completed based on qualitative and quantitative information. This information will be used to make different reports / meetings (based around the manager’s needs) to help ‘sum up’ the performance. The a post-match meeting would typically take place the next day & once it’s been completed the cycle can restart again.

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