My ‘Analyst Toolkit'
From speaking with various analysts, there seems to be very little conversation about ways of working and improving upon them. The reason for this is fairly obvious, analysts are essentially in competition with one another and want to keep a competitive edge over their rivals.
But this doesn’t mean that everything should be kept a secret.
The following list contains tools that have made me a better (read: more productive, skilled and informed) analyst. Hopefully this list serves as a useful resource, and maybe even strike up a conversation with others offering up tools they have found useful too.
It’s 2016, stop relying on Twitter as your reading list. Save yourself a step by installing this IFTTT recipe that saves all things you favourite on Twitter to Pocket. There’s an excellent web app available alongside Android and iOS apps too. The mobile apps also have a really useful “Listen” feature that speaks the articles back to you. Finally, there’s also a bookmarklet you can add to your favourite browser to save things also.
If you’re learning R, you’re best off learning it through RStudio. I haven’t tried using any other integrated development environment (IDE) for R - but probably wouldn’t try any other. Ask any #rstats aficionado and they’ll likely give you the same answer. Also check out Swirl Stats to learn R in R.
If you want to start learning python, Anaconda is your best tool to get started. It contains several different tools, Spyder (IDE) and iPython Notebooks - which are really useful to work on individual projects. If you want a place to learn the very basics of python, I’ve found Learn Python The Hard Way as an excellent course.
Skitch is a tool I used recently to display movement of players on Twitter here. As many people will know, communication is arguably the most important skill for an analyst. I find Skitch is a really useful tool to use if you don’t have a GIF or video of the piece of play you want to show. iOS and Mac apps are available, and Evernote for Android has similar features in it too.
Notational Velocity (or Notation if you’re a Windows user) is a super-lightweight note taking app that I’ve found better than any other. You can’t use images in it, but for text notes from meetings/analysis/phone calls - it’s perfect.
I probably plug this thing about once a month on Twitter - but it’s great. If you’re looking to code actions manually or even gathering basic positional data it’ll do the job, and pump out the data in a CSV you can use in R or python. I’m not just talking for Premier League games either - if you’re an academy analyst this is a super low cost way to harvest basic data.
Ben made this great tool to show how Expected Goals works - amazingly useful in explaining what Expected Goals is and how it works.
Danny Page created this really useful simulator, allowing you to look at the outcomes of games considering the quality of shots taken and conceded. Useful for boiling Expected Goals down to a simple number in terms of win expectancy/points per game.
If I’m working in an analysis department, I’m ditching email. Slack is an excellent communications hub, which you can integrate many online services into. It’s sort of like instant messaging for work, but you use different channels for different topics. Need a channel for ideas to go into? Make one. Channel for match preparation? Make one. Channel for discussing plans for the Christmas party, even though it’s only February? Yup - make one. The usual iOS and Android apps are available.
This Chalkboard has so many potential uses. You could use it to highlight an opposition goal (like in the example below). You could use it to show opposition runs. You could use it to plan out training sessions. It’s really easy to use, and Neil already has some additional features lined up to add in the future.
If you enjoyed this and you got something out of it, please share on Twitter. I’m happy to update the list with tools, tweet or DM me @Worville.