Review #1- Iterpro Football Intelligence
By Fabio Serpiello, 13 May 2020
What was the company’s involvement in this review?
Iterpro provided free access to a demo of the platform and a 1-h demonstration session online.
Is this a truly independent review?
Yes, it is. No payment was received for this review. Iterpro was not involved in the writing of the document and they did not receive a preview before publishing. During the review process, I contacted the company only for technical questions in regards to aspects of the system that were not easy to identify in the demo.
I reviewed Iterpro Football Intelligence v1.34.8 over a period of two weeks. Iterpro is a UK-based company which commercialises a platform that provides those working in football (for now) with a way to make easy, yet evidence-based, decisions on the pitch and in the board room.
The system has been created with football in mind, and this is quite evident in many of the platform’s sections. However I am sure that many other sports will follow, as the system has a distinctive approach to athlete management which can surely benefit teams and federations beyond football.
The system is comprised of two parts: A pitch-oriented part and an administration one.
Let’s start with the pitch part, which is referred to as Home. This part has five sub-areas: Standings, Manager, Performance, Medical, and Players.
The Standings area gives the users an overview of how the club is performing on the pitch. Data are automatically integrated with Wyscout, and match reports are updated every 12 h. Compared to other AMS where the landing page is usually very sport science-oriented, Iterpro has chosen a different way perhaps with the idea of starting from what’s common between all departments, which is the results on the pitch.
The Manager area is further subdivided in five sections: Tactics, Planning, Drills, Attendances, and Video Gallery. The Planning and Attendances sections are standard in these types of systems, with a good feature being that everything filters automatically from other sections onto these ones; for example training sessions are automatically created from GPS imports, treatment status is imported from the Medical area, and games are imported straight from Wyscout. Nothing ground-breaking but it works nicely. Where the system provides a point of difference is in the other three sections.
In the Tactics section, the coach can prepare the playing formation for the upcoming game and analyse past games with an integration of technical/tactical events from Wyscout (although this can be over-ridden by .csv or automatic import if a club uses a different platform for event data). The neatest part for me is the “readiness” coloured circle next to each player; this visual component is an attempt to give the coaching team a quick tool to help for selection, and I will review in detail how this is obtained.
A single click into any of the events brings you to the analysis of that event. What I really liked is the “Planned vs Actual” section, where Planned has the theme and drills of the session, while Actual contains the activity splits from the GPS.
The Drills section is a simple database of training drills with the option of creating your own ones. You have the option of classifying drills by the technical, tactical, and physical aspect that the coach wants to work on. This is a big plus for an AMS in my opinion. The only addition that would make this section outstanding would be the ability to draw drills straight into the system, although there is an option to import images of the drills that you may have drawn in another platform.
Finally, the Video Gallery section is exactly what it sounds like. You can upload videos from games or training and add simple tags and comments. Again, if there was an option of adding more comprehensive analysis tags, or importing the HTML script from an external video analysis software, that would be super.
The Performance area is also broken down into five more sections: Session Analysis, Readiness, Assessments, Test Analysis, and Workload Analysis.
The Session Analysis section is something that anyone with experience in AMS would be familiar with. You can select different physical performance metrics, analyse single sessions, single drills, or wider periods, and generate neat .pdf or .csv reports. One small handy feature here is the ability to express variables as a % of game-day benchmark. I’m not going to enter the discussion about whether expressing training data as a percentage of game data is the right approach, but if it’s important for you then this is a good feature.
The Readiness area includes what is probably one of the trademarks of Iterpro. Readiness is defined based on the “Go Score”, a proprietary algorithm that attempts to combine different traditional metrics, such as wellbeing items or physical testing scores, into one score from 0 to 100 and three qualitative interpretations (optimal, moderate, poor). It is possible to select what items contribute to the final score (albeit from a limited pool of variables), what defines the threshold for optimal/moderate/poor, and to assign weightings to each item. The great flexibility of this score lies in the fact that the thresholds can be individualised for each player. I honestly think the idea behind this score is admirable, however more could be done to explain the scientific basis behind the choice of the items.
In the Assessment area, staff can view the daily wellness surveys, the RPE ratings, and the results of the periodical physical tests. While the physical test menu is very comprehensive – offering a large number of tests with associated standard protocols – the wellness survey is locked to a five-item, 0-5 Likert scale and it would be nice to be able to modify this. As for the RPE, at the moment the only option is a 0-10 sliding bar; I might be a purist, but I would like to see no colours in here.
The Test Analysis section is a simple visualisation tool for the physical tests, but there are no statistical tools available here. This for me is something that could be improved, as we all know that in order to make an assessment on whether a test has changed in a meaningful way it is necessary to present a change score in relation to something else (e.g. a standard error associated with that measurement, a smallest important change etc.). Finally, the Workload Analysis section is based on a Workload Score that, similar to the readiness Go Score, aims at producing one simple item that can be communicated to other members of staff. It is possible to select what physical performance metrics contribute to this score, however it is not possible to assign weightings; the company told me that this is because the Workload Score is already normalised to game data, and I endeavour to look at this more in depth to better understand how it works.
The Medical area is subdivided into six sections: Infirmary, Examination, Medical Screenings, Medical Statistics, Test Analysis, and Maintenance.
The Infirmary section is definitely my favourite: users are welcomed by a five-column screen that presents the post-injury continuum (Only therapy, Rehab, Reconditioning, Return to Play, Return to Game) for the team. By clicking on a single player you can move to the individual analysis, which has a very comprehensive repository of information, from the details of the current injury to the injury history, details of the current assessments, and info about S&C plans, medications, and physio treatments. I have seen a few different medical modules inside AMS platforms and I have to say Iterpro does quite well here!
In Examination and Medical Screenings the different medical practitioners can enter raw data regarding common medical tests, as well as the initial screening that assumingly players complete upon commencing pre-season or when arriving at the club.
Medical Statistics and Test Analysis are simply sections where users can visualise different metrics in a graphical form. Similarly to the homonymous section inside the Performance area, I think that this section would benefit from the addition of a statistical interpretation of changes in a test score, as I don’t find this graphical option of much use.
Finally, the Players area is a typical player profile database. It benefits from the fact that Iterpro is not intended to be a pure AMS, but a system in which coaches, scientists, medical practitioners and administrators truly work together. In the three sections of this area (My Team, Compare Players, and Scouting), everyone can see every single attribute of a player, from the tactical preferences to the physical characteristics. Here you can also set the game-day threshold values for each metric, which act as a benchmark to analyse the data that come in every week.
The administration part
Most people who have used an athlete management system would have found several similarities between Iterpro and other companies in what I have described so far. However, where in my opinion Iterpro truly captures a niche in the market is the administration part of the platform. Here, the people tasked with making financial decisions in the club can have important information readily available.
In the Dashboard area, administrators can keep a check on some overarching data, such as the availability of the players, the results on the pitch, and salary data.
The Transfers data is quite cool for someone – like me – who grew up watching the live coverage of the transfer market sessions every season. The Deals Board gives you a snapshot of where sales and purchases are at, in a table that is similar to the injury-return to game one. Administrators can easily look at the trading balance and compare the details of two possible trades (e.g. transfer fees, salary, agent commissions etc.).
Finally, in the Finance section those who control the money can obtain constant updates about the total squad value, salary totals, contracts etc.
An interesting widget is the Investment Performance one; this tile includes data about the average player availability and the return on investment of the squad. Iterpro is quite protective of the details of these calculations, so it is difficult to comment further on the validity and usefulness of this section. However, it appears that the main KPI informing this section is player availability; I think that other technical, tactical, and physical performance indicators could easily been included in the calculation of ROI, as it is not the same having a player available but performing poorly, or a player available and being decisive in the important games.
The Player app
While I was reviewing the cloud platform, Iterpro released their updated mobile player app, so I decided to have a look at that one too. I downloaded the app from Google Play as an Early Access user, therefore I understand that things may change in the future once the user feedback starts rolling in.
The app is quite streamlined, which I like, and has three main sections: Home, Calendar, and Feed.
In the Home section players get prompted to complete the two main surveys available on Iterpro, the wellness questionnaire and the post-session RPE. The wellness questionnaire appears very user-friendly and it saves automatically at every answer; this is a good feature compared to other systems where – at least in the past – you had to save after each answer. The RPE scale, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a vertical slide bar with colours associated to the ratings. I would recommend taking the colours out and include somewhere a picture of graphical reproduction of one of the original scales. Again, I may be a purist but if the data is also used for research – which is common in clubs these days – this should be a must.
The Calendar section syncs all training sessions, games and physical treatments a player needs to be reminded of, and the players themselves can set reminders about the events, which is handy.
Finally, the Feed section is a repository of video snippets that the coaches or analysts push through in preparation for the game or as a review. I quite like this features, as it almost negates the need to have a separate video-sharing platform; however, as mentioned before, it may benefit from a bit more sophistication, such as the ability to interact with the sender of the video with a chat tool. Overall, thumbs up for the player app.
Some technical notes (information provided by the company)
It is possible to use the systems for wider organisations such as federations. In this case, Iterpro activates custom solutions that allow the integration of nested sites.
Iterpro offers already existing API agreements with GPS companies GPExe, STATsports, Catapult, FieldWiz, and with WyScout. If a client requests a bespoke API activation, Iterpro is available to scope a custom project which incurs in a fee. If the development of the API is deemed useful for several clients, it may be activated for free.
Overall, I really enjoyed the way Iterpro looks and operates. The system has some distinctive features that make it interesting for clubs that want to have a one-stop-shop for all the data and decisions. I will be interested in seeing how the system develops once other sports may adopt it.
Finally, a sincere thank you to the CEO Marco Savino and the support staff for showing absolute respect for the independence of this process and not interfering in any ways.