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Experts in Sport: The power of performance analysis

Performance analysis has grown immensely in sport with data now playing a key role in influencing decisions both on and off the field of play.

In this week’s episode, Martin Foster (Applied Sport Management Lead) is joined by performance analysis (PA) expert Mike Hughes and Donald Barron, Applied Performance Analysis Lead at Loughborough University to delve a little deeper into the subject.

Mike has extensive experience in PA, having worked for England Squash, the English Institute of Sport, British Cycling (including at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games) and the RFU.

Donald ­– who leads the Applied Sport Performance Analysis MSc programme at the University – boasts an equally impressive CV. Before joining Loughborough, he held various roles in the Premier League and Football League with Leicester City, Coventry City and Norwich City respectively.

During the podcast, the panel discuss how performance analysis can differ from sport to sport and club to club, the different roles within PA, how data can improve performance, and what advice they would offer to those starting out in the industry.

Mike explained how different sports may well require different data:

“The way I present data to a cycling coach may be different to how I present to a rugby coach…historically, a cycling coach may be very comfortable with data whereas a rugby coach may want images, video, clips, not too much data but interactivity.

“The relationship with coaches is the absolute crux of what you deliver.”


Mike also speaks about the varied job roles of performance analysts and how a new framework he’s developing may benefit the industry.

“The role of an analyst in performance sport is really broad now,” he explained.

“Individuals have different skill sets and it’s really hard to pigeonhole what analysts do as they fulfil multiple roles.

“I’ve been working with ISPAS (International Society of Performance Analysis of Sport) on developing frameworks to try to accurately describe what each of these roles are and what skills are needed to profile them in the same way you would elite athletes.”

 The Experts in Sport podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia with new episodes launched every two weeks.

Listeners can subscribe to the podcast and download the latest episode by visiting iTunesSpotify, and TuneIn. All subscribers will receive an alert once new episodes are published.

For more information Loughborough University’s Applied Sport Performance Analysis MSc programme visit HERE.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/81

Notes for editors

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.