Performance analysis in sport: WIN MORE!

Potentially the biggest goal in competitive sport is winning, and certainly, evaluating performance is a basic thing to perform better. Therefore, in this article, we will introduce some basic concepts of this area as well as discuss some strategies that coaches may use to analyze sports performance.

In the last decade, the performance analysis area has grown significantly, and many teams have a professional exclusively responsible for this task (commonly called a performance analyst1). The great challenge in analyzing performance is to stratify the variables that are important and/or related to performance. For example, if we think about soccer, the number of shots towards the goal is certainly an important variable. These performance-relevant variables are called performance indicators (PIs).1 These PIs can be of various types, for example, score, tactical, technical, and movement patterns.1 There is considerable literature figuring out the PIs in various sports, see some examples below:

Soccer: Shots towards the goal, time possessing the ball, pass precision 2

Volleyball: Number of errors/points in hitting and blocking3

Basketball: Number of assists and rebounds4

Swimming: Length and frequency of a stroke5

One of the most used methods to collect data related to performance is notation analysis, which is nothing more than a systematic way to track PIs in a quantifiable and consistent way6. A very practical way to perform this task is to use some kind of table to record the data. For example, the coach can film the games and write down the relevant actions, when and where they took place. The same task can also be done during games, which is an excellent strategy as the coach can use this information to make adjustments throughout the game and improve performance. Another interesting strategy is to assess the opposing team. For example, in volleyball, there are players (generally three) who are responsible for receiving the serve, and among these players, there may be one who is not serve-receiving well. The coach knowing this information, can guide his players to serve on that particular player and take advantage of that teams weak bond.

In summary, notation analysis is a fundamental tool for the coach and should be done both in games and in training. With this information, the coach will be able to better plan training and adjust strategies to more appropriately face opponents.

If you are involved with volleyball and are looking for an excel spreadsheet for performance analysis, make sure to check out the one we have developed for you clicking HERE.

If you are involved with any other sports and would love us to develop something for your sport, send us an email or comment below and we will get in touch and potentially help you out to make a spreadsheet.

AND last but NOT least, don’t let anyone fool you! Follow the science, dude.


1.         Hughes M, Franks IM, Dancs H, eds. Essentials of Performance Analysis of Sport. Third Edition. Routledge; 2020.

2.         Harrop K, Nevill A. Performance indicators that predict success in an English professional League One soccer team. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport. 2014;14(3):907-920. doi:10.1080/24748668.2014.11868767

3.         Yu Y, García-De-Alcaraz A, Wang L, Liu T. Analysis of winning determinant performance indicators according to teams level in Chinese women’s volleyball. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport. 2018;18(5):750-763. doi:10.1080/24748668.2018.1517289

4.         García J, Ibáñez SJ, De Santos RM, Leite N, Sampaio J. Identifying Basketball Performance Indicators in Regular Season and Playoff Games. J Hum Kinet. 2013;36:161-168. doi:10.2478/hukin-2013-0016

5.         Barbosa TM, Costa M, Marinho DA, Coelho J, Moreira M, Silva AJ. Modeling the links between young swimmers’ performance: energetic and biomechanic profiles. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2010;22(3):379-391. doi:10.1123/pes.22.3.379

6.         Nevill A, Atkinson G, Hughes M. Twenty-five years of sport performance research in the Journal of Sports Sciences. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2008;26(4):413-426. doi:10.1080/02640410701714589

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