Behind the Scenes of Success in Professional Sports
In competitive sports, many factors play into the performance curve of players and the success of the whole team. Keeping track of all the factors that influence the player´s skills is often a major challenge for the coaching and support staff behind the scenes. To maintain an overview and map all facets of high performers in the training program, Queensland Cricket, one of the most successful teams in Australia, relies on the Goalscape visual goal management software.
Player Plans were laborious and lacked a holistic view
Up to 2018, the Queensland Cricket Team had been using a dashboard system with all goals, medical assessments, physical reports and other statistics shown as a list, with colored text boxes according to the performance scale of the player, all bundled in their previous player plans.
‘The main issue we had with our goal setting tool was that it was very cumbersome to maintain, as all entries had to be added by text. This was reflected in both engagement with and acceptance of the tool.
‘In addition, although we had collected the information that we needed, we were lacking a holistic view. That was the basic foundation, where we needed to start and evolve our players’ journey,’ explains Charles Evans, Performance Strategist and Assistant Coach at Queensland Cricket. ‘So we started to review our coaching program, defined key requirements and set out to find a solution that would map all of our needs to support our coaching concept and visualize our goals.’
Engagement is the key to achieving goals
The high performance staff and coaching team had a clear vision of what the new solution had to do, and what it should not do. With the old system, every time a goal was achieved, it was checked off… then it just disappeared, or was replaced by a new one. There was no comprehensive view of each player’s journey over the course of a season, or any way to track their progress: where did they start off, which areas have they improved, and what do they still need to work on?
So the new tool had to show what the players were going through and what they were achieving: it had to reflect their improvement over time and reinforce their sense of growth – as athletes and as people. It had to display progress in all areas, in a way that would truly engage everyone in the development process: coaches and staff members, service providers – and of course players themselves – all in one place. And of course it had to be versatile and easy to use, requiring no training and minimal admin.
‘We are people: we don’t like change. But it was obvious that the previous system wasn’t working. It was cumbersome and hard to use, and with its countless lists of goals it didn’t engage the players, it wasn’t making them want to check in.
So we did a full software evaluation process: we looked at quite a few software tools, some of them with a visual element. We knew though that we had to keep everything in one place (rather than running lots of different maps), so we were already looking for a circular visualization, split into sectors to cover the various areas. We soon found Goalscape: not only did it match our needs, a bit of research revealed that it was already popular with many high performing athletes and teams in lots of different sports,’ Charles recalls.
‘The visual goal management aspect was very appealing to us. In fact it felt as if Goalscape was specifically designed for our purpose. We were quickly able to draft a generic Goalscape project for onboarding players: we could integrate all our players, data, goals and support areas into a single goalscape that covers the entire challenge, yet allows us to focus and drill down into the detail. It also allows us to integrate business information and service partners.’
Holistic view, with easy access to all the details
The decision was made. Goalscape was the perfect goal setting platform that would close the gap in player performance management. The next step was to create a generic Goalscape template for player development, then work with each of them individually to build a personal version that they can really feel they own. So this is how Queensland Cricket onboards all new cricketers today. Charles and the team created a single goalscape for each player, as the team wanted the players just to focus on one, not multiple goal maps. There is another goalscape for all the support staff, and they can see all the Goalscapes of the athletes they are closely working with.
‘Even during the introductory phase, when you might expect to encounter some resistance, Goalscape was a massive success. That’s because it’s not only great to look at, it’s also incredibly easy to use. You can change its appearance, color goals as needed, use different views and change the size of goals to reflect their relative importance. It’s very adaptable to the individual needs of the athletes and coaches, and it has the depth that the team needs to zoom in and out, record notes and comments, and of course track progress over time. A big plus is that Goalscape retains all the information: it doesn’t wipe out all data once a goal is achieved.
‘We need to reflect the journey every player takes. We need to know where they come from and where they are going. This holistic view allows us to take a more incremental approach, which solves many of the challenges our coaches, service providers, skill professionals and athletes are facing. Now we are able to tailor the goal map individually to each athlete to include every aspect of their journey.
‘It also helps the players to understand the role of every service provider, every assistant coach, and all the support staff that are here to help them become the best version of themselves – with everything covered: on-field, off-field, all the details meshed together that contribute to achieving our goals. This support for the ‘whole player’ is incredibly beneficial. And there has been no tool that helped us engage the off-field staff like Goalscape does – and that really matters: the people behind the scenes who support and encourage our athletes to study, work and find some balance make a huge contribution to success in competitive sports,’ Charles notes.
Perfect for conversations and reviews
‘The real game changer for us has been in athlete engagement and their ownership of their personal development programs. When our coaches sit down with the players we can show them visually how they are progressing: where they are improving and where they need to do more work. That visual display gives the players a complete image of where they stand in their development: crucially for many, it shows them that they are actually closer to achieving their goals than they may feel they are. Goalscape is perfect for those conversations: it reinforces their motivation, and it makes discussing any issues or weaknesses far less confrontational.
‘Visualizing their journey convinces the players of the right way to work, and what to work on. It fast-tracks the coaching process and accelerates skill development, and at the same time removes emotional barriers. So it’s not about ‘me’ and ‘them’ anymore, it’s about ‘us’ collectively, working together to achieve a higher goal. That is not only important to keep them motivated and in the game, it has actually shortened the amount of time our players take to adapt. We want them to broaden their horizons, to unleash their full potential. By having an individual Goalscape for each player we have a great reference and guideline to work with. We can see that after these reviews our athletes are actually uplifted: they talk a lot more about their personal goalscapes and encourage each other to work harder: they are self-coaching, and the leaders among them are leading – as a team, they are less reliant on the coaches and staff to get them going.’
Makes collaboration easy
‘The tagging options in Goalscape help the team to collaborate and to work on goals in all areas. If the coach wants a staff member to help develop a certain skill, they just tag the person within the specific goal to draw their attention to it. In this way the team does not need to check all the goals and goalscapes for updates manually, which makes team collaboration a lot closer. ‘Our team is really excited about Goalscape: they love being able to embed images and videos in the relevant goals. Athletes are generally better visual learners than readers; and not everybody loves spreadsheets. We use snapshots in training and stills from video analysis to give us a more complete view on certain aspects and we keep it all in Goalscape: images, videos, notes, metrics and other assets – everything we need to track decisions, measures and progress.
‘So although there are a lot of details, Goalscape clarifies the complexity: from the overview you can zoom in on any goal area to see exactly what’s going on there. And players aren’t overwhelmed by that, instead they can easily see where they are, how far they have come and where they are going. So they feel in control of their own development, which is a huge benefit.’
‘Goalscape is just an incredible tool: it provides a unique holistic view, with the ability to see the detail in any area and focus on what matters most at any stage. It has enabled us to take our program, planning and development of athletes to the next level,’ Charles concludes.