Ewan Sharp, originally from Stirling, Scotland, moved to America when he was seventeen years old. Five years later and he currently occupies the role of Performance Analyst role for Northwestern University Men's Soccer Program.
After pursuing a soccer scholarship in Pennsylvania, Ewan knew that he wanted to remain in the game build his life around soccer. Following graduation he stayed on as an Assistant at NCAA D2 University, Mercyhurst University, before moving on to New Jersey as a Youth Development Coach for the New York Red Bulls. From here he landed the unique position of Director of Performance Analysis at Northwestern University and has been in his current position since June, 2015.
Follow Ewan on Twitter here.
Chicago, IL, USA
Director of Performance Analysis - Northwestern University Men’s Soccer.
ONE WORD THAT DESCRIBES HOW YOU WORK
Analytical. Seems obvious as it is in the name of my role, however I always question and analyze everything (drove my teachers nuts). I have a need to know why?
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL GAMEDAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Most of my work is done prior to game day and following the game. On game day I typically live-code the game. This involves connecting my laptop to the camera through a device called a Black Magic Mini Recorder, which feeds the game directly into the laptop. I then use SportsCode Elite to tag moments in the game. During half time I run the laptop down to the coaches to show them anything they want to review, or something I have seen which I think is worth showing the players to help them in the second half. Following the game I have to upload the game to Prozone. Prozone provide a platform for video exchange within the Big Ten Conference. We also use Prozone to provide us statistics and additional breakdown of our performance.
HOW DO YOU DELIVER YOUR ANALYSIS/FEEDBACK?
NCAA rules restricts the number of ‘coaches’ allowed on a college sport staff. This means I am not allowed to ‘coach’ the players and limits my communication directly with them. Everything I do is passed onto the assistants and head coach of the program. I often put the information into a PowerPoint as I think the players can digest the information better from a platform they are familiar with. I sit next to the two assistant coaches and the head coach’s office is connected to ours. We often discuss between us what we see from the game, from the video, and from Prozone. In a nutshell I deliver everything to the coaches, who then deliver it to the players.
WHAT APPS, TOOLS OR SOFTWARE CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT AND WHY?
A good camera is vital for my role. It is very difficult to watch and analyse the game if the picture quality is poor. This can be one of the challenges when using opposition game footage as quality can be low or the angle bad which then makes it difficult to use.
SportsCode I use constantly as it is a convenient and easy tool to use to code the game. This allows me to go back and review clips, edit the length, create movies, etc. Very helpful.
Prozone is brilliant for us. Prozone provides the statistics and some great visuals to make analyzing the game easier. Within 36 hours of uploading our game Prozone provides us with a mass of information, typically over 4,000 data points per game. It is part of my job to analyze the information and find out what we can use to improve our performance. The timeline's involved are very challenging the college soccer environment as games comes thick and fast.
I spend a lot of time on Excel, recording a lot of data to look at trends and compare our performance throughout the season.
Finally PowerPoint is used to present the information to the players. I find it very useful as it is a platform they are familiar with and helps to clearly split feedback into different points.
Established in 1995, Prozone has been pioneering performance analysis for 19 years. In that time we've worked with many of the leading clubs and organisations in sport to deliver the high quality performance analysis services...
WHAT’S YOUR BEST TIME SAVING SHORTCUT OR LIFE HACK?
Everything I use is a time saving shortcut. The role of a Performance Analyst has developed and become more prevalent in tandem with technological advances. Without Prozone (or alternative softwares) I would need to record stats with a pen and paper and would requires hours of notation. Without SportsCode (or an alternative) I would have to spend hours watch film rewinding, pausing, taking notes, and then fast forwarding through to present to players. The more I use the software the more tricks I learn and time I save. Preparation and practice have really helped to save me time whilst coding and performing my role.
BESIDES YOUR PHONE AND COMPUTER, WHAT GADGET CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT AND WHY?
My phone and computer are so powerful now that I think they cover most of my needs. As I mentioned before a good camera is vital for video. Our external hard drive is also a must, storing our games, opposition games, Prozone packages, presentations, it’s a lot and the external hard drive makes sharing it amongst the staff very convenient. Other than that a few supportive gadgets (projector, blackmagic box, lots of cables and connectors).
WHAT EVERYDAY THING ARE YOU BETTER AT THAN EVERYONE ELSE?
I’ve met enough amazing people to know I don’t do anything better than everyone. However I do believe I do a lot of things better than a lot of people. One thing I think I do pretty well is self-evaluate. I always evaluate where I am, what I am doing, where I want to go. I always ask myself; am I doing enough? How could I do more? How could I do it better? I always need to know the purpose behind everything I do. I am always questioning myself. It can also be my biggest flaw at times, so I try hard to manage it. If I know and agree with the purpose and I can answer my questions with confidence then I think I become very passionate and extremely determined.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Currently reading ‘The Numbers Game’. If you want to think like a soccer performance analyst read this book!
FILL IN THE BLANK: I’D LOVE TO SEE ____________ ANSWER THESE SAME QUESTIONS.
Ronald Koeman. There is a documentary called ‘The Southampton Way’ that looks into the club’s recent success. Some of the success has been attributed to their unique analytics department and their secretive ‘black box’. I would love to know more about their analytics department, but I would be most interested to know how it effects Ronald Koeman and what kind of impact it has on his decisions.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
I can’t commit to one ‘best piece of advice’. I think the best advice is given in a moment when the advice is needed most. I have learned from many great people in my life and I think I have soaked up a lot of great advice. Having a purpose is vital. Working together will help you achieve more than you could imagine on your own. Recently I was speaking with Dr. David Stevenson, Performance Analyst at the Scottish Football Association, he said something which has stuck with me, “people have said to me ; ‘You always seems to be in the right place at the right time’”; he told me “that’s because I’m in more places more of the time”. Put yourself out there, meet people and make connections, go to conventions and conferences, watch games, ask questions. Maybe you will find yourself in the right place at the right time.
Inspired by one of my favourite sites, Lifehacker, the How I Work series asks coaches, analysts, and people of the soccer world to share their insights, shortcuts, routines and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Dean or mention him on Twitter.