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Thursday, 31 July 2014

The science of success

EVERY pass, tackle and run in the Premier League is analysed by it, some of the biggest clubs in rugby depend on it for improving their in-game performance, but what brought one of the most advanced performance management systems to Cumbria?

Sportstec, the Australian-based performance analysis system, relocated its UK offices from South Wales to Windermere back in November.

With a client list including 19 of the 20 Premier League clubs – Aston Villa being the exception – and a host of rugby league stars, Sportstec’s software has provided a revolution in the world of sport – and beyond.

The company offers two products – Sportscode and Studio Code, which focus on performance assessment not just on the sporting field but also in the emergency services, working with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, the NHS and the aviation industry.

Both software packages operate on a similar principle and identify areas for improvement in terms of teamwork and individual performance.

In the past six months the firm has already exceeded its turnover for the previous 12 months and Steve Jenkinson, the UK director for Sportstec, believes the relocation has had an impact.

He said: “The new location has really helped us.

“We are in pleasant surroundings and a lot of our customers are in the North West.

“A lot of our customers used to think South Wales was the end of the world – some of our staff rarely came, let alone our clients.

“I am Windermere born and bred and we were looking for somewhere more convenient and where we could bring clients.”

Manchester City have adopted one of Sportstec’s system and even offer fans a glimpse of how it helps the team on their website, while giants including Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool also use the software.

Leeds Rhinos are one of a growing number of rugby league squads to start using the set up.

Every tackle, pass and shot can be tracked and logged, allowing for a quick review and enabling teams to look at their own shortcomings and the best way in which to deal with the opposition.

The system is employed in every major football league in the world as well as in the Championship among teams including Blackburn and Blackpool.

“It’s all about performance,” said Mr Jenkinson.

“A lot of the Olympic teams have used the software – the analysis software we can provide is far more advanced than what you would get on Sky Sports or ESPN.”

The company’s products have become an integral set-up in rugby league, with analysts scrutinising the game and physiotherapists able to use breaks in play to show players short clips in a bid to improve their performance and patch up any weak links in a team’s play.

It is this instant analysis that makes Sportstec an integral part of the modern game.

The software has brought statistics and analysis into the front line of a team’s set up and Mr Jenkinson, a former analyst at Bolton Wanderers, has first hand experience.

Teams can focus on every aspect of their opponents performance from penalty placement to how likely a goalkeeper is to attempt to collect a stray ball, often with devastating results.

The fact that 19 out of the 20 Premier League clubs are customers is telling, especially when you consider the performance of Aston Villa this season, the sole club who do not use the software.

In addition, the company’s Studio Code product also keeps track of ‘human decisions’ in the emergency sector, focusing on decision making, teamwork and leadership qualities in a bid to ensure junior doctors and firefighters can deal not just in theory but with real world situations.

Emergency services can use the set up to detect problems in areas where they can’t afford to make errors in the real world ranging from simulated operations, to flight control and fire fighting.

As a Cumbrian, Mr Jenkinson is keen to see the business gives something back to the community and the firm is looking at opportunities to offer apprenticeships to sports analysts.

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