Intro on performance profiling for rugby

Performance profiling in rugby helps players to measure their progress towards set goals. Performance profiling or feedback is part of the whole goal setting program.

Players are motivated if they see their performance improves towards the standard they have set. Again, communication with your players is the key: everybody should know why they play rugby, what they want to achieve.

Why Profiling?

Here are some reasons:

  • measure and judge performance
  • assess the goals that have been set
  • provide feedback
  • identify those key elements or characteristics to improve
  • relate the individual performance against that of the team
  • create awareness of own responsibility, own role as part of the development of the team

You see that goal setting has little effect without the feedback provided by performance profiling.

Performance Analysis

Performance Analysis should give you and the player an object view on the performance of their skills. You should break-down everything in such details that systematic observations will give you good feedback on the progress made.

Two different approaches are possible:

  • notational/match analysis, which uses means to record aspects of team performance;
  • biomechanics, which revolves around the sporting impact of body movements.

I use the first one, scribbling away on a notepad and experimenting with a video analyses program. Focus on taking notes on those performance parameters that quantify the progress of a skill.


There are several ways to provide feedback on the goalsetting program but most of all remember that the performance goals set by the players are already quantified in terms of Technical -, Tactical -, Mental -, Fitness - and Strength characteristics and perhaps other relevant issues. In the goalsetting program described earlier you identified for each characteristic the achievers/what to do.

Example: improve my goal kicking:

  • Goal: 75% of all my penalties will be a score by Xmas this year.
  • Technical: improve body position at the kick, follow through after the kick
  • Tactical: -
  • Mental: improve concentration, develop a performance routine
  • Fitness: -
  • Strength: develop explosive power in my kicking leg

A performance profile can now easily be made using the above characteristics.

Another example

I found some profile sheets more based on functional roles that can help you get some ideas. An excerpt below:

Performance profile Backs and Defence

  • Alignment: deep / flat
  • Contest: Man-on / Drift / One out
  • Tackle: effective / Correct
  • Cover / Support:
  • etc.

How to gather the data

This is of course the big thing: record keeping, processing the info and finding time to evaluate with the player(s). Again al lot of organisational skills required. Think about:

  • Match analysts (spectators, injured players, retired players you might want to bring as coach anyway, your assistant coaches)
  • Video Analysis (this requires some processing too..)
  • But most of all involve the players themselves in the Game Analysis


I think that this goal setting process is an excellent way to discuss with your players how you all are going to work together. It gives you an opportunity to discuss with the players what you think is needed for the team to progress.

All in all valuable time spent inside! Good luck, hope that reading this page helps you!

Reference material

  • Goalsetting, how to organise this.
  • Two books are the basis for a lot of my work, "Winning, the Mental Way" by Karen Sugarman and "Coaching the Inner Edge" by Robin Vealy. Look at my booksection for the review.
  • Functional Roles in a team, this might help you with identifying individual characteristics.
  • Goalsetting and Performance Profiling is an important part in improving "team cohesion" or teambuilding
  • You can download the forms I used from the Free Download Page
  • Performance and outcome goals, on the Coaching Youth Sports page 

Take the time

Evaluate your trainingsprogram regularly. Do you need to adjust your goals? Use the actual matches for this, you can focus on the aspect you developed in your evaluation. Of course many other things might go wrong in the games, try not to worry too much about this. I know some coaches who plan "problem fixing sessions", this is for a quick fix and also will make players (parents?) feel like you address issues. 

Make the evaluation as individual as possible. Re-visit the estimates you made on how much time you wanted to spent developing certain aspects. This will help to develop your understanding of the time it takes for your players to absorb new aspects of our game.

This is also were you will learn if the goals you have set were SMART enough.....

Related pages

but video but test      
but links but free but credits    

Dartfish and Gamebreaker were leading companies in video analysis. With the arrival of the iPad and smartphone apps video and video processing became much easier. New companies like Ubersense jumped on it and Dartfish and Gamebreaker (Sportscode) had to follow.

Dartfish has now two platforms:

  1. The platform where you can manage and share video clips made with the Dartfish Express app; is free, the app only a couple of dollars.....
  2. Dartfish Easy Tag, this replaces your notepad and pen by providing you clickable software buttons you can configure; The App registers the clicks on the different buttons AND the time they where clicked and stores them in a text file you can import in Excel.

Dartfish Express

For just a couple of Euro's you are in business (assuming you already have an iPad or iPhone...). Get the App, make video's of your athletes who are performing a functional skill and you and the athlete can instantly playback the video. Use the "flywheel" to scroll back and forth. Click to include stills where you can outline critical elements. One of the Academy coaches said this App was a mirror, a very exact description!

Distribute through your Dartfish channel.

I have a Nikon 1 where you can record a 2,5 sec movie with a staggering 400fps, this will give you a super slow motion clip you can import via your iPad camera roll to the Dartfish app. This improves the quality of the video but the import takes more time. Note: the iPad has 30fps video. 

Dartfish Easy Tag

Dartfish calls this the Tagging Panel and is just that: by clicking software buttons on a panel you enter "Tags" on a timeline. Each button you define is a different "Tag".

This is what I use it for: Continuity Analysis. Think RL: can your team "survive" five tackles? (I actually played two RL internationals with my RU Under18 selections against BARLA, but that is another story). I had a tackle button and a button for each different way to lose possesion. Then you just go <tackle> <tackle> <tackle> <knock on>.


See that EasyTag already is counting while you click, if you would use this during the game you will see the trend built. Import the .csv file EasTag creates in Excel. In Excel you can easily find the sequences and list it my example as knock-on after three tackles. Process all the clicks and split between positive and negative outcome and sort on numbers of tackles. The result is a graphical representation on how the teams continuity game in attack and in defense was. 

I could then show my National Under 18 how effective our attack was, "just keep the ball if nothing is on" and how effective our defence was, "keep repositioning in defence, we will get the ball eventually". Timo Meinders video-ed all our practise matches and I did the analyses each time. The team became very well focussed. In the semi-final of the European Championships 2013 the Ukraine made nearly a hunderd tackles but the continuity game was so good we trashed them after the fourth and fifth tackle. In defense they did not survive our four or five tackles....By the way, we also beat Croatia in the Final and had a massively successful campaign. Video a big part of the success.

Unfortunately you need to be a bit of a geek to do the excel part, the best option is ofcourse to get the full software suite of Dartfish TeamPro and import the file there. You can then link the Tags you made directly to video you have recorded. This saves you a lot of time but at the cost of a license. Another advantage is you can look-up and show the relevant clips very quickly in your video session with the team, where else you need to input specific times in VLC.....

(By the way, SportsCode has a similar set-up, and this is what I succesfully have used with Timo Meinders, but their App is not free)


Yes, video analysis is available for us Grassroots coaches now, step into it. Let me know if you have questions....

How to start?

  • Buy an iPad, get the Apps
  • Think about what you want to keep track of
  • Set up a Dartfish Easy Tag screen
  • Experiment with a game you already have on your laptop
  • Adjust the config if needed
  • Go at it for real.

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.