Football coaches and performance staff need to regularly assess and evaluate their players and implement individual development plans (IDPs) with appropriate goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) so that players realize their full potential and the club gets the best possible results from its squad on the pitch. This type of workflow is particularly critical in the academy environment.
Often, clubs don’t have a system in place to manage players’ IDPs, and the related data and information are spread across Excel files, PowerPoints, and WhatsApp messages. This reduces the accountability and visibility of these processes while making them considerably more time-consuming and less engaging for staff and players. Let’s examine a simpler, better organized, and efficient workflow in Smartabase’s custom-built site for professional football clubs, which allows you to effectively assess and evaluate your players, set realistic targets and goals, and drive buy-in and compliance.
To plan a player’s development, you first need to understand their current and past performances. This requires capturing information from a wide range of devices and systems, as well as obtaining subjective data from the player and coaching staff. Smartabase provides football clubs with the easiest way to aggregate all their development-related data from any source in a single repository.
The coaching and performance staff can choose from a wide range of objective data streams to feed into a squad member’s IDP. Adding subjective appraisals gets the manager and player more involved in the development process and tells parts of the story that numbers don’t reveal. After every match, the coach and athlete assess and rate the player’s performance. The coach can do this on their tablet or computer, and the athlete can quickly complete their appraisal via the Smartabase mobile app, with both filling out star raters and moving sliders to generate scores and add comments. As the season progresses, these ratings are consolidated in the IDP.
Integrating your club’s GPS into Smartabase enables you to incorporate data from daily team training into each player’s IDP. This could be as simple as highlighting their maximum velocity, distance covered, or number of sprints completed – any data point that you think would be useful to tie to a physical characteristic that can be further developed, like speed or endurance.
Force Plates and Physical Testing
Automatically capturing data from force plates like VALD ForceDecks into Smartabase allows football clubs to add another layer to the physical pillar of player development. A basic metric such as countermovement jump height can be connected back to a player’s power production and viewed over time to see any progression or regression. Other physical evaluations, such as a 30-15 intermittent fitness test (IFT), can establish an athlete’s VO2 max for use in their IDP.
Metrics and Analysis
The goal of using Smartabase to manage IDPs is to spend more time actually developing them and less documenting their progress. That’s why it’s easy to zero in on the key metrics that inform assessments and performance reviews without having to sift through reams of raw data. The IDP workflow starts with an evaluation of a player. In our video example, a convenient dashboard shows a clear breakdown of assessments completed at three time points in the season. If your club uses a different assessment schedule, then you can simply configure this to match your needs.
You can click into an assessment to see the complete record. In our workflow, we have assessed players over four key pillars: physical, technical, tactical, and psychological/social – but you are free to choose the elements that you want to include. Each pillar contains a list of attributes. When you select something that a player needs to improve – such as speed in the physical category, long-range shooting in technical/tactical, or resilience in psychological/social – it will automatically be pushed into the individual development plan form. You can then detail the specific actions needed to develop this attribute, the KPIs, who is accountable, and the status, and will see it displayed when you save the plan and return to the dashboard. There’s also a comments box for the manager or another staff member to add their feedback on development in this area.
In our example, the physical pillar includes data from assessments and screens, along with GPS measurements from practice. The technical pillar can feature ratings on skills like passing, dribbling, and shooting. The tactical pillar covers attributes like awareness, decision-making, and vision. The psychological/social pillar includes ratings on teamwork, professionalism, and learning. These are merely potential use cases – you can use any attributes you feel are key to player development. One of the main benefits of using this IDP workflow in Smartabase is that you can pull in data from different sources already in the system, so you don’t have to manually rate each attribute.
Having a clear way to visualize and track the progress of players saves time for your staff, while making them more accountable for the development of their players. This is why Smartabase summarizes and collates every element of a player’s development in a single IDP dashboard. The Performance Review section of this offers a summary of match statistics along with the player’s and coach’s assessment of the performance. These allow you to track how performance and ratings change throughout the season, cross reference coach and player evaluations, and compare the player to his or her positional group.
All the information from the assessments and development plan is pulled into the IDP canvas of the dashboard. At the top of it, you can select a specific player, see their key details, and scroll down to their assessments. Doing so enables you to see their scores from the most recent evaluations for the attributes in each pillar, which you could compare to a previous performance review by simply selecting it from a dropdown. This gives you quick visual feedback on how this player is progressing over time, as do the tables showing the different time points and scores. This view also displays the attributes that have been identified as needing improvement and details about advancements in each. It’s quick and easy to update or add to these details in the development plan by just clicking into the athlete’s record.
Smartabase also pushes data to players via a convenient mobile app, so they can receive feedback from staff and see their ratings in their own personalized dashboard. Providing a quick, simple, and portable way to access feedback and review some of their key data increases player buy-in and also demonstrates to them that the club is fully invested in their development and progress.
Incorporating a wide range of objective and subjective data points into a single view in the Smartabase IDP workflow not only enables football coaches to keep track of players’ long-term goals and development, but also to see how they’re progressing on a daily basis. Taking match, practice, and gym workout information into account provides a clear view of physical maturation and development and technical and tactical acumen, while coach and player evaluations can offer insight into psychological and emotional elements. As a player works on the key attributes you and your colleagues have identified for them, you might choose to deselect some and shift their priorities to others so that they keep developing a well-rounded game. Periodic reviews at set points in the season enable the coaching staff and players to review such details and the bigger picture collaboratively.
With Smartabase’s purpose-built site for professional football clubs, it’s easy to create, implement, and evolve an IDP for each player as they move up through the academy. Facilitating proactive, data-driven player development enables players to maximize their abilities and coaches to guide their squads more effectively. At scale, it provides a club with a consistent pipeline of talent for the first team that leads to continual success on the pitch.