As a National Under 21 coach back in the nineties we already video-ed our games. Players brought their own VHS tapes to get a copy a couple of weeks later. Editing and making summaries was very complicated. Statistics were done on a notepad (paper) rewinding and rewinding the tapes.

With the cheaper prices and quality of digital video camera's and faster home computers you can move into the video analysis world. This is not the terrain of the big teams anymore! What to do?

  • Record one of your team matches
  • Digitize the video using a special video card (or have a Mac with built in firewire to stream directly as you record)
  • Play the video and start counting your stats
  • Cut and paste those parts of the match you want and make a presentation of the selected set of video bits, like all the line-outs

Of course people have thought of writing software program around a database with video bits. Tag the individual bits and next you can select in different ways, like all the line-outs on our throw. This page takes you along my journey to video analysis and digital coaching.

What are advantages video analysis?

You can now look at those things you were training on and measure how the team performs. Of course the video feedback will help you communicating the improvement to your players. Important side effect: suddenly you are not discussing your interpretation of the match (Yes/No) but are looking and discussing what you both see on a video. You meet on neutral ground.

Because you have to define your own set of parameters you really have to think how you measure performance.

Disadvantages of video analysis?

You have to invest in PC hardware, hardware, camera and in time. Reviewing one game D.I.Y. style takes me a lot of time. In order to give a presentation the first training after a match will stress your time, it will take a whole evening of work.

Two type of analysis

There are two main catergories.

  1. The game analysis, this is looking for the tactical perspective (field position, exit strategy, etc.)
  2. Functional skills analysis, this is evaluating the technique (mechanics of movement)

You have platforms for both, some tools intermingle.

Video Analysis in more detail

How much effect does your trainingsessions have? How effective are the players in their actions? What can be learned from their performance. Advantages are:

  • Visual feedback for the player
  • By drawing and calculations the effectiveness of movement can be determined
  • Performances can be compared
  • Both technique and tactical awareness can be analyzed
  • Clips of individual actions of performances can be stored

What you do: think of a game as a sequence of Situations and Results. Look at this clip from a rugby match, let us image that it is from your team:

We see France kick the ball from a ruck won and the All Blacks counter. Right? Wrong!

  1. Situation is a won ruck, result is a pass
  2. Situation is a pass from 9 of the base of ruck, Result is a catch by 10
  3. Situation is ball caught from pass, Result is kick
  4. Situation is kick, Result is ball caught in own 22
  5. Situation is ball caught in own 22, Result is run the ball
  6. etc. .... this play game ends with a dangerous run out of defense and the famous question "Where did McCaw come from?" Look again.

After you have coded all your Situation and Results you can then make lots of interesting summaries like show me all the Situations where the opposition kicked the ball into our own 22 and we ran at them. Imagine you had made a match summary specific for you coaching session based on such a selection for your individual players. That would have been great.

Next, imagine you have all the games from the RWC2011. You enter them in your tool and Wow! Suddenly you have lots of reference material. You can compare your team's performance with that of RWC2011 teams. The differences will give you all input for a learning program.

With this new type of video analysis a hugh amount of information becomes available. Too much for the coach to handle.

Do we need more coaches?

No, we need to redefine coaching. In the classical method we educated the coach who then coaches his team to success. This model can now be changed. Players have to be involved in the defining or refining training programs. The role of the coach will become more a strategist or the Rugby Facilitator.

Players have to become responsible for their own development, access their video clips online and decide what needs to be improved.

No, we need Digital Coaches!

With European Champioships in 2013 we saw the opposition team play their quarter and semi final games on video. We prepared very specific questions and divided them over the Under 18 team. Then watched the whole match! After players were very outspoken of how effective our attacking line-outs would be, how effective our midfield defense, etc.... The team could now focus on the next game. End result: pool Winner and promotion!

An overview of video analysis tools for rugby

There are a lot of video tools available, this table will give you a good overview.

Name Type Pricing Data sharing? Benefits
Dartfish Both 1.000 EUR + Collaboration possible with additional tools Hugh user base, 1 month free trial
Dartfish Easy Tag Both Free! through email.... Replaces the paper & pencil but gives you the Dartfish Tagging Panel that makes the time stamps
Dartfish Express Skill a few dollars Through; Subscription is free I use the iPad app, direct feedback on the pith!
Ubercoach Skill a few dollars No, just the App Cheap, easy to use
Utilius Team 1.100 EUR + Additional Top entry
Motionpro! Skill 150 EUR +      
Motionview!/Motionclip! Skill 150 EUR +    
Sports Motion   130 EUR    
Quinticcoaching   730 EUR    
AMISCO Team Very expensive   Turns video in real-time a magnet board
Gamebreaker Both 2.000 EUR + with additional tools From SportsCode, low entry, more features with upgrades. The upgraded set is what Timo Meinders used for his work with my National Under 18.
Statspro Team other model Yes Analysis as a Service, Pay per game


What else do you need?

  • A digital video camera, preferably with 3 CCDs, normal 25 frames per second (50 de-interlaced)
  • DV-tapes or Hard Disc
  • Tripod

The drawback of this approach it takes all the software and stuff and a lot of time. The company Statspro have solved this by doing the analysis as a pay-per-game service. And easy options to start into video analysis.

Perhaps another start?

  • Buy a HD camera, they have become relatively cheap, I think the Sony HD series are good value
  • Buy a tripod, do not save on this, smooth videocamera movement needs a good tripod
  • Get a MacBook
  • Use iMovie that comes standard with the MacBook
  • Remember that the higher up you record the match, the better.