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University of Warwick academics and the Football Association of Wales announce project partnership to study communication during live matches

Football Association of Wales analyst prepares for a match

Linguistics experts at the University of Warwick will be working with the Football Association of Wales to analyse communication between game analysts and team coaches, in order to improve teamwork and gain insights into how professional sports teams can achieve a competitive edge through language.

Dr Kieran File, Associate Professor from the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick researches how professional athletes, coaches and managers use language to communicate with one another during live sporting events.

As part of the project, Dr File will attend the Wales vs Latvia Euro 2024 qualifier in Cardiff on 28th March to collect audio data and evaluate the language used between team analysts situated in the gantry and managers on the pitch side, as the game is playing out.

Dr File explains: “It is fantastic to be taking our linguistic lens into another high-performance sports context and to be exploring such an important interaction: communication between analysts and football managers during matches.

“Analysts play an important role in helping football teams adapt to whatever the opposition throws at them. The ability for analysts and managers to effectively communicate with one another is going to be a crucial factor in ensuring game intelligence can be jointly built and acted upon during live match events.”

It is hoped insights will be gained into how interpersonal communication practices by analysts and managers support the high-performance goals of the team, how professional communication helps the team to build strategy throughout the game, and how more effective team working can be achieved through language.

Esther Wills, Head of Performance Analysis and Football Insights at the Football Association of Wales said: “The modern game of football requires managers and coaches to be tactically adaptable. The analysts in the stand are the manager’s “eyes in the skies” as well as having access to real-time data insights regarding the game. Knowing what, when and how to communicate with the bench is vital for effective knowledge-transfer. The better we can be at this, the better equipped the manager will be to make in-game decisions which positively influence performance and game outcome.

David Adams Chief Football Officer at the Football Association of Wales added: “As part of our High Performance Strategy we are continuously looking for innovations and actionable insights to improve performance. Esther reached out to Dr Kieran File and Warwick University having learnt of their previous work in this area with Williams F1. We are excited to work with Kieran and look forward to using learnings from this project across all our Cymru national squads to improve in-game communication.”

The findings from the study will be presented at the FAW’s National Coaches Conference in May.

Dr File has previously undertaken research with England Boxing about the importance of how coaches use language when coaching during matches, and more recently worked with Williams Formula One to look at how motor racing teams communicate during high-pressure racing events.

Image credit: Football Association of Wales (FAW)

Wednesday 22 March 2023