Jaimy Hulsker, performance analyst of the Dutch field hockey team and professional football club NEC Nijmegen and field hockey coach, studies the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute and wrote this column for Telesport *
Full-time performance analysts are — in contrast to field hockey — very common in football. That is why it’s good to see that the developments in club hockey are in full swing and that more clubs are seeing the benefits of a performance analyst. There is more money in football than in field hockey and the budgets are larger, so there are more opportunities to use complex systems. These systems are still too expensive in field hockey. On the other hand, the use of technology in the world of field hockey is already commonplace and is being applied in a wider area. For example, live monitoring of players’ performance has been in use for a long time, whereas in football it is not yet officially permitted. Fortunately, more and more funds are available for innovative projects in field hockey. For instance, HC Den Bosch has a smart stadium with a tracking system. Another good development for the future is that ball and position data will become available, so that more in-depth analyses can be made.
The biggest development I see in global sports technology is that modern coaches are becoming very well educated and know what they want. The triangle of coach, analyst and players is also becoming more open and there is an increasing demand for data. I expect it to be much more systematic. It seems that matches could be ‘predicted’ in advance and that the coach will become a guardian of this process. This has its advantages, but it can also reduce the added value of ‘a good trainer’.
But coaching remains a special profession. I’m studying the Master in Coaching at the Johan Cruyff Institute this year and the most important thing I’ve learned is to look at myself, because that’s where it all starts. You first need to know who you are and why you do what you do and only then can you start working with teams. In addition, combining my functions has given me a lot, because as an analyst I also think like a coach and vice versa— I am it makes me extra sharp.
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