In this week's Academy column, head of development analysis, Tim Jenkins, offers an insight into how players improve their game by studying video clips of themselves as well as experienced professionals.
Tim heads up a three-man team overseeing the analysis provision for all Academy age groups at Kirkby, whilst also acting as the team analyst to the U21 side.
In his first column, he explains how Philippe Coutinho and Glen Johnson, as well as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jordi Alba, are amongst the players held up as examples to the club's Academy starlets...
All of our emphasis, in terms of the work we do here, is on player development. So we're not overly concerned with team performance review or breaking down a game to show why we lost or why we won.
Our work is about the individuals within the squad and trying to help them become better. What we try and do is add clarity to the coaching process, so that each player knows what they need to improve on. We'll work closely with the age groups and we'll identify two or three development areas for each of our players.
Let's take Jordon Ibe as an exmple. One of the targets that we set Jordon was for him to try and attack the back post more often when he played as a wide man - and also to use his speed more to run in behind the defence.
We identified those areas as ones he needed to improve and then the next step in the process was to collate clips of him in games. These clips highlighted opportunities where he could have run in behind the defence, or opportunities where he could have made a better run towards the back post and score.
We fed that information back to the player so that he understood what he needed to work on. Alex Inglethorpe and the coaches then went away and worked specifically on those elements and included the ideas in their training sessions.
When the coaches take these ideas on, they can be integrated into team sessions or one-to-one coaching, where Alex will go out and work with one or two individuals, who have a similar development areas.
We'll support that. We go out to most sessions with an iPad and we're able to capture most of the work that Alex does. So when the players come off the field, they have a record of that session. As feedback to the player, it just gives them something they can refer back to.
Another example of how we try and help the youngsters improve is by showing them videos of other players. So with Jordon, we would show him a video of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kyle Wiffen, who is our U18s performance analyst, put together a really powerful analysis video which analysed how Ronaldo scored so many goals, what type of goals he scored, what type of runs he made and summarised all this in a clip, which we were then able to give to Jordon.
We do this so that the likes of Jordon can see just how successful Ronaldo has been and then he can try and emulate that.
Hopefully we'll see an improvement in the areas that we've highlighted. We'll try and do that with the majority of our players. Show them footage of some of the best players in the world and the elements in their game that mark them out.
Jordon is one example and he's still got a lot of work to do, but we saw some definite improvements in his game, which culminated in him getting a call-up to the first team at the end of the season. We're in a good place with a lot of our players at the moment in terms of affecting their development.
We've done quite a lot of work with Ryan McLaughlin, trying to get him to focus on the defensive elements within his game. And that's quite an interesting one, because he has made some great strides in that area recently.
We just broke it down for him and told him that he needed to defend the back post better; he needs to be better in his one against ones. And so we showed him some of his clips and then compared them to examples of Glen Johnson and how he defends well in one-v-one situations.
We also used Jordi Alba from Barcelona as an example to show Ryan that, as well as getting forward and being an influence in the attacking areas, he's got to defend as well.
We showed that to Ryan and, to be fair to him, he's worked really hard in the specific sessions Alex has put on for him and his defending has got better. He's still got a long way to go, but there are signs of progression there.
Philippe Coutinho is one player who we often hold up as an example to boys here at the Academy - his quality and his ability to manipulate the ball is a fantastic standard for our younger age groups to aspire to.
The team and I also carry out a lot of work with the lads coming back from injury. For instance, we helped Brad Smith, who was out for a long time, not by giving him a detailed breakdown of his performances as such, but by making a feel-good video including highlights from games before he got injured.
He played for England last year against Gerard Deulofeu, who is currently on loan at Everton from Barcelona, and Brad did really well against him. So we integrated some of that footage into other stuff from last year and created a package that he was able to watch before his return.
It was just to try and raise his confidence levels and make him feel good about going back and playing. So it's not all just about showing lads where they need to improve - there other things as well.
I think there's still quite a lot of work to be done on the analysis side of things in the game in general.
For me, it really depends on the coaches you work with. And at Liverpool, at the Academy, the analysts and the coaches work very closely together. So that allows you to really integrate yourself into the coaching process.
There's no point doing analysis if it isn't integrated into what the coaches are doing. At Liverpool, there's real clarity around the development of a player. We know what they need to improve on and so do the coaches. We all work together.