"Facilitate the transformation of information into a training reality"
Santos FC finished in first place after the first half of 2010 Brazilian competition. This success can be attributed to the individual talent of some of their young stars and the self-sufficiency of their coach, Dorival Júnior. Santos played a very offensive game, scoring 100 goals in this first half of the season and managed to win the São Paulo State Tournament 'Campeonato Paulista'. In addition to the magic brought by Robinho, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, the technical department was also strengthened by performance analyst Denis Iwamura’s two years ago. The former university and amateur athlete came over from Coritiba FC, where he was in charge of performance analysis for the youth teams as well as the first team. Denis assisted the conditioning and technical coaches with statistic match and training analyses.
At Santos FC Denis now assists the technical department and is specialized in sports technology mechanisms. He sizes up the technical and tactical variables and passes them on to the coach. Denis' main objective is to facilitate the transformation of information into a training reality and is doing so with good results.
"I was an amateur and university athlete. I started my physical education degree in 1998 and my former coach was working as a conditioning trainer at the Coritiba FC youth academy. He invited me to join the department as a trainee. I started as a nonremunerated trainee working with the U15s. In the 2000 I became a physical trainer to the U11s and U13s. A year later I was working as the primary conditioning coach for the U15s and another year later I was asked to move up to the first team, at that time coached by Róbson Gomes. I became part in the technical staff for the first team at Coritiba FC working as the conditioning trainer's assistant. Due to this previous experience with performance analysis in youth teams, I also got to assist the performance analysis department at the club. In 2006 and 2007 I became responsible for the department and continued to work as a conditioning trainer's assistant. In 2008, I switched to focus solely on performance analysis, an occupation I currently carry out at Santos FC."
"The scouting department at Coritiba started as a pilot project. We worked, me and Érielton Pacheco (Pachequinho), in a two-person team at that time. We were trying to standardize observation and catalog the competitions and players of the various divisions in professional Brazilian football (and its youth teams), generating a database of players including a complete map of their performance throughout their careers. This data served as the basis for the Board of Directors and technical department to assess players they were looking to recruit. Parallel to this work, we also helped out the technical department with the observation and analysis of the opponents the club would face in various competitions throughout the year."
"A performance analyst is a technical assistant that can also work directly in the field. I am specialized in sports technology mechanisms and use the technical and tactical variables to inform the coach about players and opponents. Denis' main objective is to facilitate the transformation of information into a training reality. My specific function is to translate the technical and tactical performance data, both individual and collective, of our team, throughout the season."
"We use several tools, including 'FootStats' (statistical mapping of the movements of each and every player in a game), video analysis, longitudinal follow-up of competitions and some indicators we established internally to evaluate the performance of our players. Also I am responsible, along with other technical assistants, to analyze the performance, both technically and tactically, of Santos FC's opponents. We have a team working on the observation of live games, an editing room where all games are recorded and, subsequently, we review all material that we collected."
Link between theory and practice
"The most important step is how we present the information to the coach and our players. We translate information to facilitate their understanding, giving priority to the quality of the information, and not the quantity. This information is then used by the coach, his assistants, the conditioning trainers, physiologists, directors and the press office. All of them seeking to achieve, as much as possible, a better integration between their areas, each respecting their own procedures and contributing to the development of the overall team performance."
Difficulty of implementation in Brazil
"Sports technology is still a bit frowned upon by Brazilian clubs. This is due to two main factors. First, the lack of willingness in Brazilian football culture to utilize these tools, which are very commonly used in the United States and Europe. Like in basketball, volleyball, and football. In Brazil, its applicability and results are often questioned, because of the high financial investment demanded in some cases. It is a cultural barrier that is slowly changing over the years. The second restricting factor is the lack of trained professionals who can work with these tools. We still do not have adequate courses for performance analysis. What we have are highly qualified professionals in technical and tactical areas and on the other hand qualified professionals in technology, but bridging these professions is required to take steps in training performance analysis professionals."
Coritiba FC, a school
"Coritiba FC was my 'University' of performance analysis. It was the place that gave me the opportunity to work and 'test' the various analytical tools and prove their effectiveness in the everyday life of a professional team. The club opened the door to the area of performance analysis and we were able to grow together over these years. In 2009, we had an editing room, trainees to collect data from scouts, various specialized trainers and our own scouting department."
Support found at Santos FC
"Santos FC is a club with a great working structure, and I was hired to organize their performance analysis department. The main difference with Coritiba is that at Santos we have a team of analysts working solely on opponent analysis. This promotes an exchange of information, which is an asset to the growth of the technical department. We are also including technological resources in our day-to-day work to ensure the exchange of quality information to our coach."
Amisco System: is it possible in Brazil?
Rafael Benítez works with the Amisco system, would a tool like this also be applicable for use in Brazil? "I know this tool. It is very efficient for performance analysis. In the way it is performed in Europe, I believe it is still financially unfeasible for the Brazilian clubs. At the time I was working at Coritiba FC, we contacted some companies about this system, but found that it is still to big of an investment for the Brazilian market. We are currently evaluating the opportunities for a system like this at Santos FC. We are looking for support from a company who is willing to invest in the technical materials needed to implement a system such as Amisco."
"At Santos FC we have a great integration and cooperation between the technical department and all other departments at the club. I need to give credit to the abilities of Dorival Júnior, Celso de Rezende and Ivan Izzo, who are all working together and making it possible for all staff members to perform their duties to the best of their ability. Celso is head of the physical department and he has worked closely together with Dorival for many years to come to a great cooperation between the physical and technical department. They know each other very well and have a great working relationship. The physical department also works closely together with the medical and the physiology departments. The medical department provides clinical assessment and recovery of all players. They are continuously at the disposal of the technical department during training and games. The physiology departments acts as a 'compass', always seeking to assess the real situation of the players in relation to the strain the endure during the season. The physiology staff members receives this information and, together with the coach, adjust volumes and intensities of each player's training program during the duration of the season."