Performance analysis assists coaches as they observe, analyse and provide feedback on the skills required for successful performance.

Crucially, analysis and feedback should be delivered regularly in the coaching process so its provision is not associated with specific successes or failures, but with the ongoing provision of information related to the athlete’s ultimate goal. In this way, athletes and coaches become very comfortable with evidence-based feedback, which the literature supports as a more powerful tool than subjective and intuitive feedback.

Feedback on performance is a key variable in skill learning, and performance analysis methods drive the nature of feedback in both training and competitions environments of curling and wheelchair curling. The new National Curling Academy in Stirling has provided an excellent opportunity to update and enhance our video acquisition process in the training environment, and given us an excellent platform to increase the effectiveness of coaching feedback on delivery and sweeping technique.

As you can see in the accompanying film, the new facility has 16 cameras, strategically placed to provide a multi-angle view of technique in four coaching areas. As a curler delivers a stone, their performance can be captured and synchronised from face on, side on, behind and above. This provides excellent detail on the four phases of delivery:

  • Set-up
  • Loading
  • Unloading
  • Exploding 

The system allows for real-time capture and review on ice, or for more formal capture and analysis once the session is complete. Captured video can be archived for future access and comparison, or downloaded by curlers to take away.

The role of the performance analyst has been to ensure the system is operating in an effective manner and to educate coaches on some of the acquisition and feedback tasks they can deliver independently. This first six months has been a challenging period, with some teething problems, but the potential is there for real impact.

There have been new skills and processes to be learned by the analyst and coaching staff, and progress has been steady amid all the other demands of an Olympic and Paralympic year. Without doubt we have created an exciting new environment for feedback and learning that will ensure the new investment is maximised as we head into year two of our new facility.

What has been very pleasing has been the steady uptake by coaches in their independent use of the system and in the enhancement to their coaching feedback. There have been clear signs of athlete engagement in their learning, as well as coaches questioning what they are looking to improve in their feedback session, and what type of learner they are trying to create.

Sitting behind their coaching is an increasingly clear technical model on delivery and sweeping. This is essential so that coaching feedback directs the observer's viewing and understanding to clear and accepted principles.