Heart of Midlothian FC are a household name in Scottish football. League titles, Championship promotions, domestic cup victories - the club has its name etched on all the major honours in their native country.
During the 21/22 campaign, Hearts FC joined 100+ professional teams worldwide in using StatsBomb’s advanced performance data and analytics to support the work of the club’s analysts, scouts and coaches. Jake Sheard leads the club’s performance analysis department and is now responsible for everything performance-focused at the club, including opposition analysis sessions, individual player reports and progressing the team’s day-to-day processes and analysis provisions.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Jake about resolving challenges with StatsBomb products, creating positive changes within his workflows and enhancing the club’s performance analysis department with industry-leading data.
StatsBomb (SB): Prior to using StatsBomb Data and analytics, what did your analysis workflow look like? Within this what were the biggest challenges you faced?
Jake Sheard (JS): “Before signing with StatsBomb, our analysis workflow was heavily video-based, with little input from data in any of our processes. One challenge within this is that working with video can be highly time-consuming. If we watched one full match, we couldn't be sure that a team's playing style in that game reflects their intended plan for the match. Similarly, watching multiple videos could take our staff several matches to spot trends in a team's playing style.
If we did use data, it was challenging to present it in an understandable format and in a way that accommodated everyone's needs.
Finally, time is the most precious commodity for analysts, so streamlining and creating efficient workloads is also arguably one of the biggest challenges we previously faced.”
(SB): Since signing up with StatsBomb what are the biggest changes you have seen?
(JS): “Since signing up to StatsBomb and starting to use the StatsBomb IQ platform, we have been able to spot data trends quickly and effectively, meaning when we refer to the video, we already have an eye on what sort of things to expect from teams and players.
However, this process can work both ways, with video impacting what we look for from StatsBomb's data. The new relationship between data and video allows us to convey key messages in different forms to our players and coaches, whereas previously, it was solely in video form. Now we can suggest that a team is effective from counterattacks through the presentation of data and have that supported with video clips, or vice-versa, with clips supported by data.
The players' and coaches' receptiveness to data and its use has also changed for the better since we introduced StatsBomb. The presentation of data in StatsBomb's IQ platform allows us to clearly convey messages to the team. The platform also enables us to create custom images in IQ Tactics and, through third-party software, gives the data a high level of versatility.”
(SB): What role has StatsBomb played in these changes?
(JS): “StatsBomb has been integral in our increased use of data within the club. The ability to get accurate and transparent data, presented in an easily digestible form, has created greater buy-in to analytics from all departments across the club.
The easy-to-use nature of IQ has meant that the appeal of data has also increased across the club as a whole and generated a huge amount of conversation with staff and players alike. From an analyst's perspective, using StatsBomb's raw data also allows considerable flexibility in what we produce and how we convey messages to our teams.”
(SB): What is the biggest success you’ve had since joining as a StatsBomb customer?
(JS): “One of our biggest successes has been working with the customer success team at StatsBomb to create match reports tailored to our game model and to allow us to digest game information easily. This relationship has also upskilled the performance analysis team in using different software and processes, which will be invaluable as we progress.”
(SB): What internal / external decisions have been influenced by using our data and products?
(JS): “Whilst not directly in my remit, StatsBomb plays an integral role within our player recruitment department. We use StatsBomb Data throughout our scouting and recruitment process headed up by Will Lancefield, from the identification of talent to the end decision on which target player is more suitable for our playing style. StatsBomb’s data allows us to flag high-performing players from leagues around the world where we don’t have live scouts, which enables us to be more efficient with our video scouting and that allows us to push the right players higher up our process.
It also allows us to cross-check our scouting data against StatsBomb Data to see if there are differences between the eyes of the scouts and what the data says. This is vital to challenging biases and understanding what the data is telling us. We chose StatsBomb as they have the richest data that allows us to identify players more suited to our playing style, which is vital as it brings more trust and buy-in from our coaches and the club’s Sporting Director.
A great example of where data was used at the start of our process was last summer. We were in the market for a central midfielder who profiled similarly to N’Golo Kanté. Using StatsBomb allowed us to flag Cammy Devlin, who we eventually went on to sign.”
It is clear to see the continual, positive impact of working with StatsBomb at Hearts FC. From creating greater buy-in to analytics across the club to enabling team staff to develop bespoke reports for the team's game model and playing style.
The potential success that Hearts can achieve alongside StatsBomb data and analytics is limitless - could we see the club’s name etched on more major honours in the future?
If you are a club, media outlet, player agency or gambling organisation that wants to know more about what we can do for you, contact us to learn more about our offering.