Len Browne on why performance analysis is now a vital element of Cork sport

Working full-time as an analyst since 2011, the Waterfall native has seen analysis became crucial for many teams
Len Browne on why performance analysis is now a vital element of Cork sport

Jason Ryan, former Cork coaching consultant, left, watches while Len Browne sets up his camera ahead a league game with Kildare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

SPORTS Performance Analysis is defined as an observational analysis task that goes from data collection all the way to the delivery of feedback and aims to improve sports performance by involving all coaches, players and analysts themselves.

Over the past few years, this has become more and more common across all sports and recently I caught up with Len Browne, a man who can be seen at many events, recording different sporting codes and here he tells us about the joy he gets from his job.

“My work involves many facets of performance analysis, from filming certain games to analysing the performance of both teams and players,” said Browne.

“I also go into schools where I engage students with sports analysis to develop their digital and data literacy using sports as a medium for engagement.

“I have been a full-time analyst since 2011 and I thoroughly enjoy it.”

Len Browne, Mardyke Arena, UCC, performance analyst, speaking to the Rebel Óg U15s and U16s players. Picture: David Keane.
Len Browne, Mardyke Arena, UCC, performance analyst, speaking to the Rebel Óg U15s and U16s players. Picture: David Keane.

The father of two from Waterfall always had a keen interest in sport and analysis became something of interest while coaching.

“I initially was a coach where I coached in the All Ireland League with Sunday’s Well and UCC.

“I also coached Munster U18s and Ireland U18s, and it was while I was coaching, that I initially got involved with analysis. I wanted to support my coaching using data and developed notational analysis methods to gather data.

“In 2005, UCC started the sports studies and physical education program with Julia Walsh and Fiona Chambers. They were looking for someone to bring a sporting analysis element to the course.

“Working with the sports studies department was where I brought my understanding of analysis to the next level with the advancement of technology and research.

HECTIC

“My schedule is pretty hectic and it will differ for different times of the year; certain times of the year are heavy with presenting in schools and at UCC. Other times are heavy with analysis during inter-county times, and other times are busy with rugby and hockey for analysis.

“You can work evenings and weekends in line with when sports are on or when the analysis is required."

It can be broken down into various categories.

“As regards recording, it is mainly games, but I have recorded training also; I have on occasion recorded training and audio recorded the session for added impact and learning and reflection.

“As regards analysis, I design analysis templates to break down a game into performance parts, so reviews and reflections can be undertaken with greater efficiency.

“Regarding individual player performance, a game is analysed where individual player performance is identified, and the data is compiled in an algorithm to assess performance.

“The algorithm can give a single figure for the performance taking in all variables a player can be involved within a game. All the performance indicators are viewable as a separate accessible video file for player development and learning.

“Apart from sport, I also work with students at UCC, where we adapt sports for a classroom and physical education environment. We look at adapting different coaching and learning styles and methods.

“Hence, the students learn of different ways of engaging the subsequent player and students they will come into contact with as future PE teachers, coaches and sports educators.

There are many benefits to video analysis that makes a player reflect on the team as well as personal performance which is always going to be a positive; athletes have a specific shelf life with peak performance, so viewing, reflecting and engaging with any aspect of playing or training can be very positive.

“Performance analysis can have a positive and rewarding impact if managed correctly and used as part of greater holistic athlete development.” 

There are many rewards to his job, but for Browne, it’s all about satisfaction gained for each individual.

“Group work and personal reflection are, in my experience, better than feedback. Using analysis to probe and problem solve, in my experience, is the best way for engagement.

“Greater engagement leads to more significant learning, better problem-solving leads to better decision-making on the pitch, and better decision making on the pitch leads to better performance.

“Seeing players and coaches developing from analysis, also seeing students seeing sports as a means of engaging with digital and data literacy for personal development is very rewarding for me.”

Len Browne at work in UCC
Len Browne at work in UCC

How time-consuming can his work be?

“It all depends on the level the team is at and the appropriate level of analysis; the higher the level of the team, the higher the level of analysis the more time required.

“I would have specific analysis templates for different sports from a team and player analysis perspective; these are very comprehensive and usually cover all play elements.

“They also generate data for performance. Extensive collation of large data sets can lead to greater depth and understanding of games. It’s a profession I am thoroughly enjoying and long may it continue.”

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