Building on the momentum of #GAAPA 2017

Mark McAreavey @mmcareavey1

Driven by conversations at the #GAAPA conference held recently in IT Carlow, I tweeted a resource to create a momentum chart (goo.gl/Vj9ywM), this lead to a friend asking me, “what impact would this have?” So I decided to try and explain my fascination with momentum…

“When someone attacks, they create force, movement, momentum, but you’ll be okay as long as you can see and feel the direction of that force and travel with it.”

This quote by the famous author, Victoria Schwab, perfectly defines the reason behind my quest to quantify momentum within sport.  Momentum is something we hear about in nearly any sport as a competitor raises their performance levels. It is normally heard after someone scores a number of times in a row. From an analyst’s perspective, I often wonder if we can gain an understanding of what acts as a catalyst for momentum, will this allow us to create strategies to kill momentum before it has serious consequences? Can it provide information for us to have more, longer periods of momentum?

I first tweeted about momentum in GAA back in February (goo.gl/WMT4MZ) about a game I was analysing. The game was close with the losing side leading until the 59th minute of the game, but as can be seen in the momentum chart, the momentum was with the winners from before half time. This visual provided a story not told by the score allowing me to focus, not just on the short period before we lost control on the scoreboard, but further back when we allowed the opposition to take control of the game and allowing answers to be found on why we lost the game. We found out the momentum sift was created by a tactical change by the opposition that wasn’t effectively dealt with but allowed us to create solutions to overcome this in the future.

The resource I created comes with a number of weightings depending on how an attack ends which came about based on a period of trial and error to gain a visual on what we believed as a management team illustrated the game appropriately. The reason it focused on attacks, as while events during a game can have an effect on momentum such as a red card, the end result of this is more attacks. This led to my definition of momentum being based around the pressure a team places on the opposition’s defence and damage caused.

With the idea of the GAA Performance analysis conference around the sharing of ideas and resources in mind, I hope that we can ride the wave of momentum from it to work together to fully explore how we can effectively illustrate this and impact performance…

Author: Mark McAreavey