What Skills and Characteristics Does a Sports Performance Analyst Need?


18-Feb-2021 | 10 minute read

In a previous blog, we spoke about what a Sports Performance Analyst does and what their role is within a club.


Today, we’d like to follow up on that and talk about the skills and character traits that an inspiring analyst might need to make it in this world.


Before we start, this is not an exhaustive list and it’s by no means definitive. If you don’t have any of the skills or traits on this list, that does not mean you can’t follow your dreams and get the job of your dreams...although it may mean that you have to work harder in order to compensate!


Anyway, if you’re reading this, we’re sure you’ll find at least something of yourself in this article.


Let’s start…

What Are the Routes into Sports Analysis?


Ok, this is a good place for us to take up the baton...how can you land yourself a job in Sports Analysis?


Well, from our perspective, having worked with and gotten to know many professional analysts over the years, there seems to be two basic ways to get into this field...by getting qualified or by getting experienced.


Let’s talk about qualifications for a minute…


sports performance analysis qualifications


Over the last few years, the number of further and higher education establishments offering specific Sports Analysis courses seems to have exploded. And this especially holds true in the United Kingdom. 


You just need to check out this list of undergraduate or masters degrees from our friends at sportperformanceanalysis.com (you might notice our course on that list too!) or this from our friends at AnalysisPro to see the proliferation of the discipline in British universities.


The downside of this, of course, is that many courses means many graduates looking for jobs in the field but in an ever-expanding industry like ours, perhaps this isn’t such a big problem.


Whilst gaining a qualification is great, we’ve also met many an analyst who has fallen into their positions through experience...and often we mean fallen, with very little planning involved in the process!


These are the ex-coaches or ex-players who want to remain involved in the sport and have decided that analysis is a way for them to do this. It might also be a coach who has seen the benefits that analysis can bring to the club and has decided to assume the mantle, without any formal training, and ran with it.


sports analyst skills experience


We already talked about two such analysts in the previous article! In the Opposition Analysis Department at Liverpool FC, James French studied Performance Analysis at Edinburgh University while Greg Mathieson took the alternative route of gaining on the job experience. Read about their journeys here.


So, qualifications or experience. Both are a good foot in the door, but whatever route you take, there are definitely some characteristics that every analyst shares.


Let’s start with the obvious…


A Love of Sport


sports performance analysis love sport


I mean, can you really be a SPORTS analyst without loving SPORT?


Possibly, but you probably won’t enjoy it very much!


Come on...you’re going to be surrounded by sport everyday of your working life. And your working life will be dictated by said sport. Don’t expect to work 9-5, Monday to Friday like a normal office job. Weekends and evenings will not be yours as big games tend to be played then.


In addition, you’re entering a highly competitive environment where you are expected to give 100% of yourself every day. You’re part of a team and the goal of that team is to win.


And it’s not good enough to be a simple fan of the sport. You’ll need some in-depth knowledge of the game and its tactical and technical aspects. How can you give insights if you don’t have this knowledge?


Ok. So you’re a sport geek and your knowledge is supreme...but what else do you need?


Technical Skills


sports analyst technical skills


No luddites in this job, sorry!


A lot of the time, you’ll be working with technology in order to collect the data you need for your analysis. From video cameras to computers to GPS trackers and drones, you’ll need to master a variety of data collection techniques.


Of course, this also covers analysis software such as your very KlipDraw! If you’re reading this, we’re sure you’re already experts in using our software and it’s a short leap to video analysis tools such as Nacsport.


It might also be advantageous to have a good grounding in other software typically associated with analytics. Excel, Tableau and Power BI are typical examples of such software. From there, it’s not a huge leap to needing actual coding skills with knowledge of SQL or Python!


What’s next? Oh, yeah...


Analytical Skills


sports performance analyst analytical skills


There’s no point having the technical know-how to collect data if you’ve no idea what to do with that data afterwards, is there?


You’ll need good analytical skills in order to handle the data correctly and use it to identify common and uncommon trends that appear. And you need to be ruthless. You’ll be dealing with a high volume of data which means you must be able to decipher the good from the bad quickly and efficiently in order to produce reports that are actually useful to your team.


Which brings us nicely to...


Good Communication


sports performance analyst good communication skills


What good is it discovering tactical deficiencies in the opposition if you can’t effectively explain these to the coaches and players?


It’s no good...that’s what!


An analyst must be able to create fantastic, clear, concise video presentations in order to get their point across.


Obviously, KlipDraw helps enormously with this, providing you with striking images and illustrations.


But as well as video editing skills, you must also have good written and verbal communication skills. Building up good relationships with coaches and players will build trust and confidence in your abilities.


Listening and acting on feedback will show your team that you are willing to learn, which, in turn, will make them more open to being taught.


Some might say that good communication is the most important skill of all for an analyst. It’s the key to binding all the other skills together.




So, there you are. A quick overview of what we consider to be the main skills and characteristics needed to be a good analyst.


Obviously, there are many more: good organisational skills, time management and a tenacious attitude are all just as important, but we don’t have time to cover everything here.


Instead we’ll turn the question over to you…


What skills do YOU think are important for sports performance analyst? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and let us know.


We also remind you that, if you're not yet a KlipDraw user, we offer a 30-day FREE trial of any of our software. What better way to get into the technological side of video analysis?



Until next, thanks for reading!

Written By

Duncan Ritchie

KlipDraw Communications

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