The development of coaching in the game of association football or soccer as it is now widely known worldwide has changed the nature of the game in many respects, writes Pete Kelly.

Gone are the days when the game was played ‘completely off the cuff’ with a more organised approach to team play being the norm. The notion of a group of gifted individuals being able to get the better of a well drilled outfit is virtually unheard of today. It would be highly unlikely that any professional club for instance to indulge in the tactic of Fulham in the mid 70’s when they signed Bobby Moore, George Best and Rodney Marsh and just played ‘off the cuff’.

In those days club managers were the norm and club employed ‘trainers’ rather than coaches, as the manager made all the decisions and players were traded on their individual ability rather being able to fit into any predefined system. Perhaps Sir Alf Ramsey was one of the first of a new breed when he essentially introduced a new system to England’s world cup winning squad in 1966 – they were known as the ‘wingless wonders’.

The Dutch set the world alight when the great Johan Cruyff was in his heyday with their ‘total football’ concept and anyone who was lucky enough to be alive and witness the Brazilians in 1970 was in awe of the individual prowess. These three squads of players however, while possessing iconic players had one thing in common- “The whole was greater than the sum of its parts.”. This implies that they played to a predetermined system, with each player understanding their role with the good of the team being their primary objective.

Roll the clock forward to the modern era and with ever increasing money being available to the top clubs, the demands for success is almost overpowering. Video analysis is now a vital aspect of prepare teams at the highest levels – Manchester City have committed significant resources to video analysis at all levels.

Manchester City match day setup video

There is also now a big push among national associations to ensure that video is a key element in the coaching education programme.

The Football Association of Ireland are no different. They are in the process of revamping their ‘Kickstart programme’ with all drills and small sided games available on video, where previously they would have been depicted diagrammatically in printed volumes. Avenir Sports are producing the video footage for the FAI for the new programmes – get a sneak preview here.

The importance of video analysis in coach education increases as an individual progresses through the levels.

At the basic level the coach is using video for demonstration purposes as young players grapple with varying systems of play. At youth and adult level the emphasis is more on the analysis of performance in games or training. The professional game, operating at the highest levels will be using ‘live analysis’ where competitive advantage can be balanced on a knife edge.

The coach must have an in-depth understanding of what they want the analyst to produce and to do that they themselves should be au fait with all the analytical technology and practices. Growing your coaches through the levels with an ever developing understanding of the importance of video analysis and an ability to use the technology will only increase their effectiveness.