As the season draws to a close, we caught up with Cardiff City’s Academy Head of Performance Analysis - Josh Harfoot - to discuss the importance of the role within the academy.
“I look after all the video footage and statistics for all age groups at the academy from U18 to U9.” began Josh. “My role is to create a database for all our age groups and then producing information we can use to help the players develop.
“On a typical weekend, I’ll film the game and then upload it for the coaches to have immediate access for feedback with the players. While we review the stats, we’ll also work on individual clips for the players so they can review their own performances as well as watching through the whole game they can watch their own clips.”
City’s Academy Head of Performance Analysis has been at the club for the past four seasons, in a number of roles ranging from U16 analyst, Assistant Head of Analysis and also as a Development Centre coach.
“It’s about seeing the picture as many times as possible. For example, when players take part in games, they are constantly seeing a picture every time they receive the ball and then when they’re checking over their shoulder.
“For the younger age groups as much as they get individual clips, they get a personal gain, it's like a little boost, seeing themselves score goals and celebrate as a team helps the players to fall in love with football. In our case, when you’re winning a couple of trophies its nice to look back at that.
“As soon as you start to hit U13, the statistics and the individual clips start to become a little bit more important because the players are really able to take it onboard as a learning tool. As soon as they get to U18, they’re used to that level of feedback and self-development.”
Over the past few years, there has been a huge growth in the importance of analysis, with the industry emerging as a key part of the backroom and Josh went on to discuss the importance of his role linked in with Cardiff City’s Head of Academy Sports Science, Andy Whittington.
“I think numbers are a big thing in football, whether that be the stats that we get, or the GPS data Andy [Whittington] provides, I think it helps to paint the bigger picture rather than what you’ll just see, so sometimes it will give you a bit more of a backing and a higher accuracy to your thoughts.
“The numbers allow players to set goals, and it also provides a confidence boost for the players, as they’ve seen that they can do certain things and deal with situations, so it helps beforehand that they’ve got that in their locker.
“It allows players to think about possibly creating more shots, passes and running longer distances, as they will have the data to compare against previous games. They’re always just trying to better themselves.
Josh took up his role last summer and works alongside a team of interns who cover a range of age groups from U9-U16.
“This is my first season in this role, so I’ve learnt a lot myself and about how I’d like to improve next season, but not just me, also how I help my interns and interact with other age groups as well.
“I think speed of the feedback is most important. How quickly can we get back those individual clips so the players can review their performance and really benefit from it that way.”