Cardiff Devils – Ice Hockey Performance Analysis with Nacsport
At the start of this season, the new IIHF rule book was released with a change that affected the use of video and data analysis in hockey.
RULE 26 – TEAM OFFICIALS AND TECHNOLOGY
Team officials who stand at or near the players’ bench during the game are allowed to utilize radio-type technology for contact with another team official in an IIHF designated area.
Other forms of technology are permitted only for coaching purposes (i.e., tagging and statistics) and cannot be used to try to influence the decisions of on-ice officials in any manner.
This year, we began to work with two teams in the Elite Ice Hockey League, Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils, who have been using the Nacsport software, Nacsport Tag&view app and KlipDraw Animate tools to get the most out of this rule change and enhance the performance analysis processes they were previously doing through the Steva software. Today, Gareth Hubback (Analyst) shares his insights of the Cardiff Devils performance analysis processes, what the new rule change meant for them and what they are able to do now that they are using Nacsport.
Until this point, the most that could be done with live video analysis was tagging in-game and reviewing between periods. This new rule change opened up the possibility of supplying this key data quicker, both analytically and with video.
We looked at how we were currently doing things and the technology we had (both hardware and software) then heard about Nacsport via the League Director of Hockey Operations, Mike Hicks. We then got in contact with Josh Bryan from AnalysisPro to arrange a demonstration of the Nacsport software and their IP Cameras.
We liked the look of the product and went ahead with an initial trial to see if it could deliver what we were looking for to help move us forward. AnalysisPro have been great with us, especially during initial set up along with on-site and remote training.
After figuring out a few logistic issues mainly around infrastructure at the rink, we now have the ability to wirelessly send registered clips to the bench for immediate review during matches. This is a huge help to Head Coach Andrew Lord and Assistant Coach Luke Piggott for influencing on-ice decisions. It also allows us to show clips to players separately if requested during the breaks, whilst the coaching staff are reviewing the main clips on the main laptop.
Whilst I am capturing the camera footage live into our Nacsport machine through an Avermedia device, I am registering key actions with the template we have created. Learning how to use tools like Panel Flows and Clusters available in Nacsport, along with hotkeys for our buttons means that I am able to register lots of key information quickly during our games, which is vital due to the speed of Ice Hockey! The template buttons that I have preset to go into the Play By Play stream means that key clips are automatically sent down to the bench over our wireless network for the coaches to easily review, without me having to be next to them (my camera and machine are higher up in the rink!).
The help from AnalysisPro did not stop after our initial meetings, as Nacsport is regularly updated to improve and move forward with feedback from users, so there is a continual learning journey that AnalysisPro take us on with their dedicated support, to meet our requirements and enhance our processes.
We now have a very holistic working workflow by using Nacsport and also working alongside our Statistical team to provide real-time benefits that are highly comparable to the highest hockey leagues in the world. In fact, it is only just recently (January 19) that the NHL has provided teams in that league with in-depth real-time stats and video on the bench, something we have been able to provide since August!
But aside from other leagues, there is always a lot to be learnt from other sports and AnalysisPro are enablers of this. They provide training evenings and workshops which are sometimes shared online (like this one with Castleford Tigers Rugby League) and also put users in contact with each other to help share knowledge.
We were extremely pleased to host Darren Lewis, Head of Performance at Gloucester Rugby, to learn from his experiences and use of Nacsport, which was a huge benefit for us.
Following from that meeting and seeing the ways that Darren and Gloucester use Nacsport both during and after games, we started to further develop our use of dashboards to improve the workflow of how we get the vital information to the coaches as quickly as possible during a game.
(Below isn’t one the Devils use in-game, but an example for you!)
Our processes are still a work in progress with step by step improvements, but that is the culture we work and thrive in! Much like our players and coaches, if we can keep getting better game by game, we should! Thankfully, the use of Nacsport easily assists us with this.
As a coaching team here in Cardiff, we’ve found Nacsport a very helpful tool this season. Hockey is an incredibly fast game with many things going on simultaneously and the use of advanced software and video analysis is critical. The video to bench aspect in particular has allowed us to breakdown in-game situations immediately after they happen, which allows us to stay on top of any necessary in-game adjustments. Josh and everyone at AnalysisPro have been extremely helpful from day 1. Always ready to answer any questions and or give our team additional support. Overall, our experience with AnalysisPro and Nacsport has been a very good one. Andrew Lord, Head Coach