Tracking Performance

One of the reasons I started this website was to publicly track my development as a coach. I've always said that every 6 months I look back at myself and think "What the HELL was that guy doing?!" Having the video footage from training and games to refer back to has been extremely valuable, whether I view it the next day, or years later. By putting it out in the open, it's a way to both have some accountability, and spark discussion with other coaches.

A lot of our analysis as coaches is subjective, and difficult to track, especially at the level I coach at. That doesn't make it wrong, but it can make it hard to verify if we're achieving what we want, especially when viewed by outsiders. For example, I feel in the past I didn't coach my teams to be patient enough in attacking transitions. The only way to really evaluate that statement is to watch hours and hours of training and games, and come to a subjective conclusion based on my ideal style of play.

This fall, I'm going to try an experiment objectively tracking my teams' performances. I'm a huuuuge soccer content junkie, and lately I've found myself gravitating towards lots of work on soccer analytics. One piece I found early on that's very easy to grasp is this one on shot quality by Ted Knutson. It basically quantifies what everyone already acknowledges about shooting. For example, it's easier to score from closer to goal, it's harder to score a header than a shot, etc. I'm going to use a shot location map to try and objectively measure my teams' performances this fall. Something like the image below:

No matter what style a team plays in, they are almost always trying to produce the best shots for themselves, while limiting the chances of their opponent. Whether you bunker and counter, pound the box with crosses, or play a possession based style, that is always the outcome you are looking for. By tracking both the shots we take and concede, I'll have an objective measure of how the team is performing both game by game, and over the long-term.

I divided the area around the penalty area into 12 grids: horizontally every 5 yards or so (U11 and U12 teams play 9v9 so smaller field), and vertically using the width of the goal area as the central zone. I could have used more or less zones, but this felt both easy to track, as it used naturally occurring markings on the field, while still providing a good amount of nuance. It could still change however. The reason each grid is labeled with a letter is so I can track the shot totals on a spreadsheet. I'm hoping I can get a parent or sub to count the shots during the game, and I can enter them in later.

A few trends I'm planning on keeping an eye on:

  • season-long trend towards more + better chances for my teams, less + worse chances for opponents
  • jumps up or down in shot quality for us/opposition when we focus on creating chances/defending in training
  • if a particular side is weak or strong offensively/defensively