Understanding Play Analysis software

Play Analysis software for football

Play Analysis is the act of using video to study the performance of a sport.  Play Analysis is a technique used by individuals, amateur and professional sports teams to study their performance of the game.  By carefully cataloging and recording statistics for each play in the course of a game or practice, coaches and players can later watch plays to analyze their play with the hope of making improvements.

Teams use video to study themselves and make themselves better.  Teams may also use video study the performance of their competition.  By studying their competition, coaches can identify trends or weaknesses in their competition.

Conventional film review

Typical film review usually involves the team getting together after a game to sit down and watch game film.  Typically a team will watch a VHS tape, or more commonly today, a DVD of the game.  Coaches may stop the film to discuss formations, breakdowns in offense or defense, etc.  It is difficult to study specific features of the film because of the linear nature of the playback – that is, the VHS or DVD player plays from beginning to end and it can be difficult to look at plays out of that sequence.

Cataloging plays with all the important details along with the video could save time. With older technology, the videographer and the statistician could work together to index the position of plays on game film along with all the important information.  During film review, coaches could advance the film to specific positions to view the plays of interest.  Much of the time during film review may be spent advancing the film to the start of a play or rewinding to watch plays over again.

I’m reminded of the scene in the 1993 Rudy when Rudy goes to talk to his coach of the 1974 Notre Dame football team .  The scene depicts the coach sitting in his office watching film on a small personal film projector, winding the film back and forth to watch a play unfold when Rudy walks in.  The technology has significantly improved since then.

Today, find the plays you want in seconds

The payoff of Play Analysis software like PlayTrack Sports is the virtually instant playback of any play, from any game, from any season you have available.  Coaches or fans can locate plays by offense, defense, punts, kicks, kick returns, touchdowns, interceptions, first down, fourth down, you name it.  In fact with PlayTrack Sports, you can add your own attributes.

With Play Analysis software like PlayTrack Sports, parents can watch just their player’s plays, search for his touchdown, sack, interception, you name it.  Coaches can maximize their teams film time by dividing offense and defense, special teams, instantly watch highlight plays, or study what the team could have done better on that game changing fourth quarter 4 and 1.

Recording the video

Recording video for PlayTrack is flexible.  At some point, the play information must be associated with the video.  We call this “play tagging”, “tagging plays” or just “tagging”.  Once plays are tagged, they can be searched for and played back.

There are essentially two ways to tag video:

  • Live at the game, tagging plays as they happen
  • Post-game, tagging plays after the game by watching the video

Tagging plays live at the game is typically the best way to capture play information.  When you tag plays live at the game, all, or at least most, of the work is done when the game is over.  With some practice, one person can film the game and tag the plays at the same time.  In this way, plays are created in PlayTrack Sports after each play is filmed.  Since there is usually 20 to 30 seconds between plays, the camera person can tag the necessary information at that time.  I admit, sometimes some play information may get missed if the game action gets too fast.  Any play information missed can be easily added or corrected during halftime of after the game.  Having an assistant, however is definitely preferred.  Your play tagging information (and your video) will be much better quality.

You can also tag plays after the game by watching the video. If you tag plays after the game, you will obviously need to invest the additional time to do so.  This may be necessary if you have computer problems or if you don’t have an assistant or you are just not fast enough to tag plays on the fly.  Another reason for post game tagging is to update plays you may have made mistakes on or to add information you may have forgotton to tag during the game

Inputting play data

PlayTrack keeps track of the down and distance and calculates the yards gained or lost.  All you have to do is indicate what yard line the ball is on, when a first down occurs, and any other data you want to track like Pass, Runn, Kick, Punt, Interception, Penalty, Field Goal, etc.  You usually enter the player numbers of those involved in a tackle when you are on defense, or who ran, passed or caught the ball when on offense.  This may sound like a lot to do but it usually isn’t too difficult. Here is a typical sequence of keys or clicks:

Situation Editor

Entering information after the play.

Start play (press ‘S’ or click Start).  End play (press ‘S’ or click Stop).  The Situation Editor window will pop up.  Enter “Down”, “To Go” and  “Ball On”.  The gain is automatically calculated based on the new “Ball On” yard line.  Change the quarter or the score if necessary.  After the situation form is closed, you may enter the player number, and select play attributes by clicking or pressing the shortcut.  Enter player number who ran the ball.  Enter ‘F5′ for run.  Done.  So the actual keys pressed are:

Play Details

Play Details


Note: Every attribute can be entered by using shortcut keys on the keyboard.  You can also use the mouse for convenience, but with practice, the keyboard is by far the fastest way to tag plays.  I use a keyboard with labels describing the shortcuts over all of the keys.

Game Situation

Current Game Situation

Current Game Situation

As the game progresses, the current game situation is shown, mimicking the format of a scoreboard.

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