The Football Association of Wales and The University of Warwick have completed the first phase of an innovative research project studying communication during live matches.
The purpose of the project was to study communication between performance analysts and the coaching staff during a game. The project looked to identify ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this dialogue, the importance of which is vital for successful in-game adaptations.
“Having worked closely with the analysts in the build-up to the game finalising the game plan, it is important that they are on the front foot regarding any changes or tweaks that need to be made,” noted Rob Page, Cymru National Team Manager. “Communication between all coaches is vital for that 90 minute plus period.”
The project, which was conducted in line with the FAW’s High Performance Strategy, involved collecting audio and video data from the recent Cymru v Latvia and Cymru v South Korea matches played by the men’s national squad.
The research team, led by Dr. Kieran File, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick, analysed the verbal and non-verbal communication between performance analysts, the manager, and coaches during the matches. The findings of the research were presented and discussed in workshops with technical staff and more general learnings presented to over 300 coaches at the FAW’s National Coaches Conference.
The project has provided actionable insights to improve communication between technical staff across all FAW national squads. It has also highlighted key areas of development for performance analysts.
“We are delighted to have worked with Kieran and The University of Warwick on this innovative research project,” said Esther Wills, Head of Performance Analysis and Football Insights at the FAW. “The findings have provided us with valuable information on how we can improve information flow between analysts and coaches. This should help the transfer of in-game insights to appropriate on-pitch tactical changes and ultimately improve the performance of our national teams.”
“It is fantastic to again see applied linguistics and professional communication research having an impact on the world of high-performance sport,” said Dr Kieran File. “We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to take our linguistic lens into a national football team context and loved the challenge of exploring ways coaches, managers and analysts can enhance their communication with one another during matches. However, we have only scratched the surface and we look forward to the next phase of this project where we will continue to show how linguistics can be used to unpack the challenges of communication between coaches, managers and analysts in and around live football matches.”
Dr David Adams, FAW Chief Football Officer and Technical Director, added: “Part of our high performance strategy was a commitment to focus on impactful insights that supported the progress of our National Teams and could directly impact our knowledge exchange through our coach education courses. This specific project has directly enabled us to understand the most effective mechanism for in-game feedback, which in modern football, with dynamic tactics and flexibility, will enable our feedback process to be more seamless.”
The FAW is committed to continuous improvement and innovation in all areas of its operation. The completion of this project, together with similar projects via The Centre for Football Research in Wales, is a testament to the FAW’s commitment to engage in high quality and innovative research and creating evidence-based best practice for performance improvement.