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Club News

Staff at Salop | Lewis Needham

12 June 2022

Club News

Staff at Salop | Lewis Needham

12 June 2022

Bob Davies sat down with Lewis Needham, the academy analyst, and discussed how in-depth the analysis of Shrewsbury Town’s Academy and Youth set up is.

When Shrewsbury Town’s stars of the future take to the field to represent the club’s Academy, one man who can’t relax or let his attention waver for a moment is Lewis Needham, as he takes his seat in the stand or dugout.

For he is head of analysis at the football club’s Academy and his role is to ensure that the performance not only individually, but collectively as a team, is recorded to boost their chances of success.

Lewis, who hails from Leeds, took up his position with Town after first becoming interested in analysis while at university and then worked at two category one academies – Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

That, he said, provided him with invaluable experience and when he was appointed at Shrewsbury, he was able to bring with him the knowledge of working with youngsters in the Under-9s group to those in an Under-23 group.

Having now spent over two years working in professional football, alongside what he described as very good coaches, he introduced his ideas into his work at Sundorne - where the Academy is based in Shrewsbury’s Sports Village - and he feels that the young players there are benefitting from what he and the coaches do.

Throughout a game, Lewis uses software on his laptop to register each and every move the players make during the 90 minutes. By tapping a series of keys, he not only records the game but also takes clips of each occasion a player touches the ball.

“What we analyse differs from week to week,” explained Lewis. “From the Under-18s perspective, we look at the team we are due to play, study the way they line up, and look at ways in which we can exploit them.

“Me and the gaffer [Kyle Kirby] will sit down and go through that with the boys, who have different learning styles, so the message is got across in different ways.

“Every time a lad touches the ball, I press his number and it records it. Predominantly, the idea is to provide a video of the game but the best way to describe it is to say every time the ‘keeper touches the ball I press number one, and that records an 18-second clip of him.

“I press different keys throughout the game, which aligns with the philosophy of the Academy director and first-team coach, David Longwell, and afterward I will put those clips together – there could be 30 or 40 of each player.

“They are advised to watch the full game, but we also advise them to watch it to study the clips of their own performance. I then task the lads to look at their clips from four corners – physically, psychologically, technically, and tactically – and to think how they can improve.”

Lewis added that he and the coaches would look at the game over a weekend to study how the team had played and the lads were called into the analysis room on a Tuesday to discuss ways in which they thought they could improve, so they could take it into their next game.

Sam Allardyce, Lewis said, was the first to use video analysis of games and although the industry was relatively new – it was first launched about ten years ago – it was being developed all the time.

“I think back to the time when I was growing up and how basic the equipment was in those days,” he said. “Nowadays the equipment changes almost every day and what I am using now may be completely different in ten years’ time.

“Look at the technology which is coming in and look at the pace of the game and how it is changing. We are constantly looking at different things and when I try to explain my job to friends and family, I try to keep it as simple as possible because there is so much to do.

“In the last ten years game analysis has snowballed, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to develop.”

During our chat, I asked Lewis if it was a case of the players dwelling on their performance for only a short time after a game, to which he replied “I’m sure some of the lads would wish for that sometimes but there is a lot more which goes into a game which they don’t see.

“That is why it is really good for the coaches to be able to look at the emotional side of a game when studying a video. Some of the players are so emotionally hooked to the game they don’t recognise things that go on.

“Because of the emotion, it is easy to miss things so the cameras and equipment we have are really important.”

Lewis said other clubs and analysts he had spoken to were envious of the equipment they had at Shrewsbury, and he was sure that their use of it in the Academy from the Under-18 team right down to the Under-9s was very beneficial to the lads.

“It is very important to look back at games because it shows a good attitude to learning and it is vital the boys make sure they get all the right things out of it,” added Lewis.

“It is a seven-days-a-week job really. You live and breathe it, but I enjoy it as it keeps me on my toes.”


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