Fresh from graduating from GIS’ MSc Football Coaching & Analysis programme Ross Mitchell landed a job at EFL Championship side Middlesbrough. His degree, coupled with a number of coaching and performance analysis work experience roles, were key to his success in securing the job, as he describes here…

Tell us about your role at Middlesbrough and how it plays into the wider workings of the club.

As part of the Academy Performance Analysis Department at Middlesbrough Football Club, I am responsible for measuring team and player performance through video and data analysis which relates to the academy’s playing philosophy. We use this video and data to provide coaches with insights into performance which we then water-down into more understandable feedback for teams, units and individuals. In addition, my role involves monitoring individual performance related to individual learning plans, which relate to positional key performance indicators agreed upon by the club’s coaching department. This allows us to monitor player development and provide evidence-based feedback to players and parents.

How much of your role is split between watching games and training live and on video?

Games take place once a week, during which I film and live-code the game. During the week, at under-16 level, training is occasionally recorded and this footage is used to form part of a pre-match analysis session or for day release sessions that take place with the players one day per week. At the beginning of the week my work is more focussed on the game that has taken place at the weekend, and this involves communicating with the coaches with regards to the aspects of the performance which we want to address with the team or individual players. From Wednesday onwards attention is shifted to the upcoming game.

What skills are you using at the club that you picked up during your time at GIS and how have they benefited you in the job?

There are a variety of skills that I picked up during my programme which I use in my role, one of which is filming and coding matches. These skills are crucial for performance analysts, as is the ability to do both simultaneously. Filming and live-coding not only saves time, but allows me to provide coaches with insights during the match which can sometimes relate to identifying opposition tendencies or adapting our own team’s approach to the game. Additionally, my ability to interpret and manipulate data stems from my time at GIS where I learnt how to turn large datasets into easy to interpret information that assists the feedback process and informs future performance.

Tell us more about your MSc Football Coaching & Analysis programme. What were some of your favourite aspects of the programme?

One of my favourite aspects of the MSc Football Coaching & Analysis programme was the modules. Specifically, the coaching modules which covered a variety of topics ranging from developing a coaching philosophy to designing your own game model. These assignments have shaped the way I work, both as a coach and an analyst. Also, the fact that the programme covered both football coaching and performance analysis allowed me to explore opportunities related to both professions. In my current role I believe my background in coaching makes me a more effective analyst.

You’ve also spent time at the likes of Celtic, Rangers and Accrington Stanley. What have you picked up from each club that you’ve been able to take into your job now?

My experiences at previous clubs have been varied, with some being coaching roles and others being performance analyst roles. My voluntary role at Rangers as an Academy Performance Analyst introduced me to the role and here I was able to understand the requirements and expectations associated with the role. My internship at Accrington Stanley, which I completed during my time at GIS then allowed me to put into practice what I had learned at Rangers. Prior to my role at Middlesbrough, I also worked as an opposition analyst for Scottish Championship club Dunfermline Athletic, as well as remotely for USL Championship club OKC Energy. These roles allowed me to understand the expectations associated with professional/first-team football, as well as allowing me to improve my ability to put together in-depth reports for staff and coaches related to the tactical tendencies of teams within both the Scottish Championship and USL Championship.

What advice would you give to somebody looking to study a degree at GIS?

I would encourage prospective students to make the most of opportunities presented to them through GIS’ various partners. I would also encourage them to make the most of the time they have with the lecturers and their peers.