Castleford Tigers ‘A Season with Nacsport’ by Ste Mills
Today, I am very happy to release another blog written by one of our good friends, Ste Mills. We have worked with Ste for a number of years now, supporting him in his performance analysis roles in Rugby League with Huddersfield Giants, Wales Rugby League, Leigh Centurions, his own analysis business Inside Sports Analysis and now in his position at Castleford Tigers. Ste joined the team just after the start of the 2018 Super League season and has used this blog to show how the Castleford Tigers performance analysis processes have developed over the season, after moving them over to using Nacsport. Take it away Ste!
At Castleford Tigers, the Head Coach demands the very best from everybody involved in the club and with analysis, this is no different. As I write this, we are at the end of the 2018 Super League season which really has been a rollercoaster. I joined Castleford Tigers in February after departing Leigh Centurions. I knew this would be a challenge because I would have to introduce some new workflows to the coaching staff at the same time as trying to learn and understand Daryl Powell’s structures/values, which normally you have all pre-season to get used to but as I joined in competition week two, I knew this was going to be tough.
In Previous years, Castleford had been using Opta Super Scout, which you will find most teams still use as it’s something coaches have become comfortable with over the years. There is nothing wrong with this software, however, it is basic, and I wanted Castleford Tigers performance analysis to take the next step. Along with Super Scout, it meant that they had to use PowerPoint, and other pieces of free/cheap software to present their videos/meetings to players. With myself working with Nacsport for the last 3 years, my first thought was that I need to get the Castleford Tigers coaches using Nacsport. We were considering all working off of one Nacsport licence (remember we were already in season time and it is incredibly difficult for a coach to transition overnight when he has been used to other software for a long time), however we made the decision to purchase 3 Nacsport Scout Plus licences for the coaching staff, with me continuing to work on my own personal Nacsport Pro Plus licence. This was a major breakthrough for me as it was the direction that I wanted the club to go in and this was the very first step to getting to my end goal.
So the next stage of this process was to get the coaches to transition from using multiple software, to use one single software where they could review/preview/analyse everything they needed to from training footage to match footage. I created them a very basic template for them to start on, including some timed buttons and some manual mode buttons. One thing that became apparent very quickly is their amazement on how easy it was to use (remember these guys hadn’t used anything like this ever before!). Ryan Sheridan (Castleford Tigers Assistant Coach) was challenging me every day to show him something new. The next day he would come in with something new he had found when he went away and played around with Nacsport, so then naturally wanted to know the next step he could take into creating the best video presentations that he could.
Don’t get me wrong, this transition process took a couple of weeks. However, going from showing something on a very small screen on an old software, then closing it down to show a PowerPoint slide, then opening another software up to show a clip from training to it then all being in one very smooth, organised software in Nacsport was a major step in how we conducted Castleford Tigers performance analysis processes. Meetings were now much smoother; player feedback was more fluent because there were no stoppages to change software and screens and overall the meetings were a lot more slick.
After having discussions/debates in various meetings, as a coaching staff, we have now come up with a system where we cover different areas in our previews and reviews of games. Rather than us duplicating our work, we all do our own tasks, then we share our .nac files and our .pre files and we all import each other’s work into our Nacsport software so we can very easily access this important information that each other has done. Presentations now have PowerPoint title slides that I put together, along with some pre-match analysis work that I have done on our opponents and this is all done via Nacsport, by importing PowerPoint slides with just one click of a button. The same applies with our post-match analysis, Daryl Powell (Head Coach) will do his team review and then he will import my post-match analysis reports into his presentation so he can feedback to the boys and highlight some key areas that have stood out where he sees appropriate.
Another major area where we have made changes is in our training. After the guys started using Nacsport to review training after they received the video, we had discussions where I had suggested we started to analyse training live as it was happening. We would achieve this by doing something I’ve done in the past, which you may have seen in my blog last year. We would start to use the AP Wireless network solution with Nacsport’s real-time streaming workflows. This means we would be able to show players video straight away on the field via an iPad/Tablet, encouraging communication between coaches, players and me to allow us to improve immediately, rather than waiting for the next training day where they would see the footage. This meant I would be standing with the coaching staff, and when we see something that we would like to review it’s just a click of a button and it’s on the iPad in seconds. We have seen great benefits from this and the players have really responded well too, so we will be continuing to do this in 2019 and beyond.
So 2018 as a whole has been challenging, rewarding and most of all exciting from an analysis point of view. It has been a very important part of our building process and one I’m very much looking forward to seeing how we can grow in 2019 and beyond.
We would like to thank Ste for sharing his insight into the Castleford Tigers performance analysis processes and their evolution of using Nacsport with the coaches and players during the 2018 season. Looking forward to working closely together for the next season Ste!