You cannot be a “Tactics First” squash coach without having the ability to easily tag video to examine the tactics (i.e., shot choices) that your players use in their matches. The video tagging procedure involves using computer software to watch a squash video, and then touching a key or button to indicate to the software that you would like to record the action that you are interested in. Performance Analysis and Notational Analysis are the formal terms associated with tagging. Here is a great link for more info: The Video Analyst.
Without tagging software, a specific (versus just randomly watching match video with your team or player) tactical analysis that involves assembling multiple examples of shot choices is very time consuming. For example with my Smith College squash team, it would take me five hours to assemble 10 examples (five good, five bad) of mid-court attacking tactics (30 min. per 10 players to watch, then edit, then email or post to YouTube) following a match.
For example in this video, I used the Tagging Module of the Dartfish software to capture examples of squash shots played in the front court zone by top female players. I was interested in both the choice of shot (i.e, tactics), and the way the shot was played (i.e., technique).
As a member of the Faculty in the Smith College Department of Exercise & Sport Studies I have access to Dartfish via the five licenses our department has purchased – we were early adopters having used the software since 2004. Even earlier than that, 1987, I was using tagging elite junior tennis players as part of my Doctoral research using the CompuTennis Software (no longer in business?).
The problem with Dartfish (Windows platform) and GameBreaker (Apple platform), the other popular software used for tagging is the cost – both cost several thousand dollars – so not easily accessible for the average squash professional working alone in a club. The Video Replay App is $2.99! I have been wondering when an app would come out!
Touchstat Highlight is another more costly option ($24.99) which has greater “potential” as it can be used in conjunction with their desktop software.
Dartfish has an iPhone app, EasyTag (free), that while not actually recording video, can later synch your tagging with the desktop Dartfish software. In a future post I will go over a more work intensive but “free” way to use EasyTag results with a free video software like Quicktime.
Note that there are a lot of free or low cost apps for both the iPhone and Android software that allow a coach to analyse the technique of a single shot – the sole advantage over simple video replay is the access to drawing tools, and an easier ability to view two actions side-by-side (I just open two Quicktime Windows on my laptop:).
As soon as I finish grading my 64 Introduction to Sport Coaching class assignments (Biomechanical Analysis, Strength Training Program, Skill Coaching Report) I am going to give Video Replay a try!