THE ROLE OF THE PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR IN A FOOTBALL CLUB

 

What does the Performance Director do?

The performance director is the person inside a club or a federation in charge of overseeing the different performance departments of the club such as sports science, medical, nutrition, S&C or analytics, in order to ensure the players’ optimal fitness and performance on the game day, following the coaching philosophy and requirement of the Head Coach.

The role of the performance director consists to lead and coordinate the various departments of the organisation like analytics, medicine and sports science, which complements the players’ condition and wellness according to the needs of the current squad and coaches.

He is also in charge of creating a continuity among the members of the staff that changes throughout the year, by forming a structured working philosophy, identity and culture at the club for the staff to follow.

 

What does it take to be a good performance director?

The role of the performance director stands between several departments, for this reason, one must have a broad understanding of the different subjects. On the other hand, the performance director must also be flexible by understanding the coaching philosophy and aligning the Performance area to the needs of the Head Coach and understanding the specific game requirements. To be effective, sports science and medical practitioners must be able to influence key decisions with respect to injury-reducing or performance-enhancing aspects such as training loads (duration and intensity), training content (e.g. gym-based versus on-field activities), recovery strategies, training/team selection based on needs (considering the requirement to rest players, etc.).

This is where the core values, beliefs and leadership qualities of the modern-day coach become critical.

 

How does the role of the performance director vary from a smaller to a bigger club?

Bigger clubs have greater capital, facilities, technology and HR resources, so the performance director of a professional club will be called to manage these commodities effectively. In this case, because of the big structure built in the club or federation, the performance director covers the management role of the supervisor by planning, organizing and monitoring the processes held at the organisation.

In smaller clubs, that have fewer human resources and facilities available, the performance director tends to cover different roles within the club and becomes part of the structure and staff that is actively involved with the daily matters at the club. A smaller club doesn’t have the same quantity of resources as a big club, but that doesn’t mean the performance director can’t plan an effective strategy. Actually, smaller environments with limited resources and staff members sometimes are easier to manage because of fewer dots to connect and operations to coordinate, which often promotes a more sustainable and effective working framework and development pathway in the long term, as long as the coordination of the resources available is done correctly with a clear structure and idea, aligned with the coaching philosophy.

 

How has the role of the performance director evolved throughout the years?

In the past, the physical training wasn’t blended with the drills football-based and football philosophy. This meant that the players’ conditioning work was done separately from the technical and tactical training. Today thanks to the technologies and a deeper understanding of the game-specific demands both aspects have come together. The head of performance has started to adapt the performance processes to the current first-team coach’s ideas, creating a clear pathway and routine for the players to follow throughout the training sessions in both physical and technical aspects, making sure players are ready to perform mentally and physically.

The role of the performance director is destined to grow thanks to the development of new sports science literature and advanced technologies that will allow the staff to have more insights into the players’ performances and physiology. However, it’s believed that more and more clubs, even the ones in lower leagues, will rely on the role of the head of performance to create the conditions.

 

 

Why do clubs need to structure themselves with a sports science department?

The main asset of a sports organization is represented by its players, so every player management activity becomes essential in the asset management process, especially if takes care of their health.

The sports science department provides a monitoring service to the coaching staff that allows all the players to effectively increase their physical well-being and consequently improve their performance, by minimising the risks of injury.

The aim of the sports science department is to support the coaching staff by ensuring that the players are mentally and physically prepared to cope with the demands of the modern game and reach their highest performance levels.

Sports and medical science can create an understanding of training impact through the quantification of training loads and advise in the design of individualised multidisciplinary preparation programmes (physical, nutritional, psychological and technical).

Adopting a systematic scientific approach to performance issues has the capacity to inform and enhance decision-making, improve game understanding and positively affect risk management. Such insights have the potential to positively influence both the coaching process and resultant coaching behaviours.

 

How can Iterpro’s solution be beneficial to the performance director?

Nowadays, an integrated approach is necessary to optimize results and improve the club’s return on investment (ROI). Every company, large or small, has certain internal characteristics such as management style, systems, organizational structure, strategy, staff and organizational culture. External characteristics include the company’s mission or business model, input and output, the economy, technology, political factors, social factors and stakeholders.

Companies that lack the ability to coordinate and integrate plans act as a body without a head. Though employees have the ability and skill sets necessary to carry out directives, their work needs guidance. Coordination and integration start at the executive level and carries down to the workers at the front line of the company.

Communication enhancement and information sharing process between departments are crucial to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of daily operations in order to improve the players’ performance and maximise the overall team results.

Iterpro platform is a one-stop-shop solution designed to centralize all the club’s strategic information from every department. This means that the software is able to cover all areas of performance and support the decision-making processes of all the staff members, therefore, facilitating and boosting also the performance director’s role.

Iterpro supplies a tool to support the daily job of the head of performance, in creating a framework that smoothly streamlines the workflow and information sharing between the staff of the medical, technical and performance departments, and helps him to plan, monitor and coordinate all the activities related to the player management.