Tool for Coaches to Audit their PA Practice

Alan Swanton @aswano23

At the close of every season most coaches review, reflect and evaluate the success of the processes they have put in place to support athlete learning and development.  One of these supports is performance analysis (PA), whether the coach is delivering this themselves or has the luxury of an applied analyst to help.  This post explains how coaches can use a simple audit tool to consider their practice in the various aspects of PA.

This audit was compiled and presented at the National GAA Coaching Conference in 2016 by myself and Denise Martin.  It was aimed at high performance GAA coaches, most of whom are supported by at least one analyst and generally use computerised video analysis.  (For those new to GAA – it is the Gaelic Athletic Association and its main games are Gaelic Football and Hurling. The elite competition is the All-Ireland Intercounty Championship and the finals are played in Croke Park in front of 82,000 spectators. Players are amateur but their preparation is quite professional with high levels of sports science input.)

 Using the Audit Tool

The reflective practice tool is a checklist of questions with two purposes:

  1. To allow coaches who use a lot of performance analysis to audit and evaluate their practice if you answer No to anything – there is room to improve
  2. To encourage coaches new to analysis to ask the right questions and make sure they are driving the process

Here are two of the more important questions:

Question 8. Is it clear which member/s of the coaching team will liaise with the analyst for planning and at critical times such as during matches and at half time?

It is pointless having stats if they cannot be communicated effectively – MAKE SOMEONE RESPONSIBLE, test that the communication system works when all spectators are in

Ensure the appropriate VOLUME of information is communicated at the appropriate time and discuss who will act as a filter for this information

Half Time – Key Points

Post Match – Detailed Breakdown

Season Review – Season Stats & Trends

Question 17. Do you feel confident to sit down with a player and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their performance at various stages in the season?

Why do it?

  • How else will you be able to select 15 better players than you have currently…
  • Video is often clearer than words

How to do it?

  • Plan the key messages in advance, taking into account the player’s mental strengths, age and status within the team
  • Watching all of the player’s match involvements as they happened in the match (about 4 mins) is less threatening than labeling ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bits
  • Ideally, the player will have seen the footage in advance (saves time), ask for their assessment and Personal Improvement Goals (PIGs) – calibrate with your own
  • Record training and challenge games – often the only video peripheral players will have – show you are interested in their development also

GAA – PA Relective Tool

Photo Credit: RTE (

Author: Alan Swanton

Alan has been working in elite performance sport in Ireland for the last 10 years. He is responsible for the planning, delivery and implementation of performance analysis services within Sport Institute Ireland, delivering service within boxing, Paralympic swimming and cycling across both the London and Rio Olympic/Paralympic cycles.

In knowing that at its core PA is a coaching tool and given the rapid development of sports related tools & technologies, he is interested in exploring how these can be integrated into the everyday activities and operating environment of the analyst. He has witnessed the growth and evolution of PA in Ireland over the last decade and is keen to explore the potential of building a PA community of practice in Ireland.