Notational analysis is essentially a means of recording events so that there is an accurate and objective record of what happened in a sports game. A record of what actually took place. Spectators and parents will often see the game differently. For the fan that aspect of subjectivity often makes following the sport as exciting as it. Even the best coaches struggle to recall sequences of events accurately and often fail to recognise where a sequence of positive play originates, or where errors evolve. Players’ view of the game can also vary greatly. Notational analysis gives the coach a factual record of data – of what does not lie. Importantly, the method of data collection needs to be reliable, objective and relevant to the level of play. Most importantly it must add value to the player and coach.
Collecting stats in sport originated in the US in basketball and baseball, soccer is a late comer to analysis, but nonetheless there are many systems and tools available to the coach today. The stats of athletes and participants in track and field events, swimmers and cyclists are easier to measure and produce metrics from – finish time, height jumped etc. Analysis in soccer provides its own challenges, but with the right approach can yield great benefits to the entire team. There is no one method to collecting stats, nor is there one method for each level of the game.
Analysis in soccer today focuses its attention on the player with the ball, the related activity, and overall game strategies or tactics with the game. Typically, analysis generally focuses on player activity (name, position), what the action was (shot, free-kick), the time it occurred, where the action took place on the pitch (in attack or in defence) and the outcome of the event (was it a success?). Capturing data on relatively straightforward events in youth soccer can have a significant impact on coaching leadership and player development. Whether you use video, paper and pen or computerised systems data collection and analysis can only assist your soccer team.