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Working in the MLS with Andy Peat

Andy Peat is the First Team Video Analyst Coach at Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS. We caught up with Andy to find out how he came to be in his current role, how his role affects the teams and what the future of video and data analysis looks like.

PAUK: Tell us about your background and what has led you to this point....

AP: I have been passionate about football since a young boy in New Zealand playing and coaching since a young age. I decided to go to university as I could see I was not going to progress at a higher level where I studied a Bachelors in Sport & Recreation double majoring in Sports Coaching and Sports Management. While I was studying I was coaching and volunteering with New Zealand Football which was the start of my journey international women’s sport where I attended the 2011 Women’s World Cup then relocated to Canada Women’s program and attended the 2012 Olympics working with the Bronze Medal Olympic Team. Working with Canada as the Performance Analysis Manager I also worked on the 2012 U17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan, 2012 U20 Women’s World Cup in Japan, 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada and two Pan American Games in 2011 & 2015. I then moved back to New Zealand to get back into coaching and at attending the 2015 Club World Cup with Auckland City FC as an Assistant Coach before taking up the U19 Head Coach Role at Auckland City FC for the 2016 Season. After this season I applied for the head role to lead Video Analysis Practice for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC who compete in Major League Soccer (MLS) which is my current position and have just completed my third season with this professional sports team.

PAUK: What does your working week consist of?

AP: My working week consists of supporting the coaches in the performance needs as well as leading a small video department of Luke Summers, previously working at Bournemouth & Wolves and Andrew Foster who has been in the club for seven year. We are responsibly for leading and optimizing the video practices with the First Team, Development Team and three academy teams. The typical in season work week can vary as the league is expansive and travel from Canada to US clubs can take a full day. Myself and the team work to ensure the coaches and players have access to the necessary opposition scouting report information and the beginning of each and immediately after each game. It takes a high level of organization to meet and consistently deliver for the coaches.

PAUK: How would you describe your analysis philosophy?

AP: My analysis philosophy is simple: Optimally deliver for the coaches to make them feel they have all the necessary content to direct the technical and tactical focus for the week and ultimately the match performance. I firmly believe in getting the analysis team members to focus on areas they are most passionate about as it is already their strength. This enables them to be intrinsically motivated to add value to the process and performance as well as giving them the platform to work with coaches to show their knowledge, ideas and suggestions. In addition to this our department has a clear strategic plan going into each season that guides how we develop and grow as a department. The departments philosophy and core values do not change but we evolve them together, everyone has unique perspectives which adds values and we robustly discuss how we connect our philosophy connects into the coaches and clubs direction as we are all interconnected. Our success should be integrated into the club and teams success.

PAUK: Best moment in analysis?

AP: Best moment in analysis this year is seeing members of my team grow and deliver. Beyond this it would be working with an Olympic Medaling Team and seeing this team get inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame this year.

PAUK: Best player that you have worked with?

AP: It’s tough to answer the best player I have worked with as I have work both in international women’s football and professional men’s football. Each are different but equally rewarding. At the Whitecaps I have enjoyed working with all the professional players but enjoy working with the homegrown signed players or new professional players as they are green and eager to learn and apply to get their chance.

PAUK: What’s the ultimate goal for you and why?

AP: My ultimate goal is continue to grow in the analysis field and coaching field and find a nice balance between analysis and brining into to life on the field with players. Along with this I am interested in social psychology and the interaction of people and how to get the best out of people.

PAUK: Are you more data or video heavy in your work and why are you more heavy on that area?

AP: I am more video heavy with my work but respect data analytics and recognize this is a significantly growing domain and the evolution of technological and optical tracking will impact the game. I am more video driven as I need to connect with the coaches and players and if the data and video can support changes in player or team behavior then we are succeeding. With any piece of work we do off the field we need to be able to bring this down to an applied level where the players and coaches and easily digest and use the content. The visuals for players using the video I feel has a great way to connect and discuss football. This is a changing landscape and it is important to be open to technological, data and video changes.

PAUK: What do you think is next for the analysis industry?

AP: What is next for the analysis industry is how data and optical tracking is coming in to effect and impact performance training and games. It is dynamic landscape and I feel effective live integration of optimal tracking will create big changes in the way in which all data and video analysts operate to impact the coaches and players

PAUK: What tool has the biggest impact on your job?

AP: The tool that has the biggest impact on my role is fairly simple and basic, a video camera and live capture into Hudl Sportscode. This makes me think about community football teams with lower budgets or volunteers. A video camera is simple to setup and to film. Regardless of the nice to haves you need video content. How you go about editing, analyzing and collecting data you need a platform that enables reviewing the moments described. I often see advanced systems and process which are phenomenal but I also believe what in what is simplistic but most powerful way you can develop or change behaviors and it all starts with filming. At a professional level ChyronHego’s Coah Paint telestration tool is powerful creating clear visualizations and enables clear messaging.

PAUK: What advice would you give someone that wants a job in the industry?

AP: I am really passionate about investing time into people to help and grow in this industry and would encourage a someone who wants a job in this industry is character before competence. You need to be able to understand the game, the moments you analyze and how you communicate this messaging to others. However you need to be prepared to work hard, learn, take feedback early on in your career volunteer but always show up. Build rapport but showing up being competent and this will build trust.

It was great for Andy to speak to us about his career. You can connect with Andy on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you are interested in becoming an analyst or know more about what the life of an analyst involves, take a look at our Introduction to Analysis Course here!

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