Now is the perfect time to do an audit on your entire soccer program. Here are some ideas on getting the most out of your re-evaluation.
If there’s a silver lining to the difficulties this pandemic has thrust upon sports teams, it’s that it’s forced many to embrace a back-to-basics ethos.
“I don’t think anybody is reinventing the wheel,” says Florida Elite’s David Gough. “I think kids are out there kicking the ball against a wall for the first time in 20 years probably. That can only be a good thing.”
That’s not reserved just for player development, though. Here’s a perfect opportunity to take a 10,000-foot view of your program and then dive deep on the details to make tweaks that can have great benefits long-term.
Here are some ideas:
(Re) Establish Your Foundations
You should take this time to re-establish the principles around how you want to play with regards to style, pressure, direction and formations. Document the framework for your team to work within. Build, find and compile resources that support these philosophies.
To get started, use Hudl to compile a library of video playlists showing:
- How each position is expected to operate
- How various formations exploit a defense or extinguish an attack
- Advantages and disadvantages of different styles of play
- Training sessions that new or veteran coaches can implement
From there, consider creating homework assignments for your players. It’s a great way to test their passion for the sport and how much they’re truly consuming the resources you’ve created. Need ideas on how this looks? Our Hudl reps have templates for you to use, such as this one.
Revisit your data to evaluate (or create) KPIs
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are being used more and more by top-performing professional and amateur clubs, as a way to measure efficiencies of both players and game models.
Some teams’ style of play is all about possession. Others might be more direct. Maybe you love building the attack by playing the ball out wide and swinging in crosses. Or maybe instead you like to bypass the midfield and play directly into your target. There are important data points you can use to match whatever style you fancy.
Possession data like what Hudl Assist offers is a great way to match data with the style you want to implement. At Kentucky girls soccer power Marshal County High, for instance, assistant coach Andy Pagel uses pass success rate stats to gauge how careful they are with the ball, and because he likes to play direct, he likes to keep his average pass strings under six.
In the soccer hotbed of Cincinnati, girls soccer juggernaut Loveland High uses pass string data tied to video to fine-tune the way they build their attack. They also find the data quite revealing for accurately scouting opponents.
“You have the opportunity to create all three of those things that are important in player development—physical, visual, and the emotional belief.” Loveland coach Dan Donovan says. “That’s how they’re going to work hard at it, repeat it, and not let it become a bad habit again.”
Sign your coaches (and players) up for coaching webinars
The opportunity to learn from others has never been riper.
These past four months, we’ve found that coaches at all levels are much more eager to share ideas for how they run their program successfully. You can always check out the latest soccer content on our blog, or join our online Slack community to network with more than 2,000 coaches from around the nation.
Renowned Cincinnati-area coach David Robertson has compiled this spreadsheet full of free coaching resources for you to consume, from podcasts to ebooks, websites and Twitter accounts to follow. Consider this a “greatest hits” collection of some of the best work going on in the soccer coaching community.
But don’t stop there. Unite your coaching network by having guest speakers talk to your team over Zoom, or hosting webinars with other teams around the country you’re friendly with. Take it a step further and use our new shared session feature to host a video review and level up your own understanding of the game alongside the team.
Fine-Tune Your Players’ Highlight Reels
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a significant uptick in the number of highlights being created across all sports in Hudl. Creating a great reel is harder than it looks, though.
In our webinar with Georgia Gwinnett College women’s soccer coach Mike Giuliano, he emphasized that your average college coach is so overwhelmed with highlight links from recruits that on average you have 60-90 seconds to catch their attention.
Make sure your athletes understand that every second counts. And more importantly, give them a roadmap for standing out from the crowd. Show the pretty goals, but show the one-on-one play and winning a ball in the air too. Show how you change the point of attack, move off the ball and precise passing.
“This isn’t some movie that builds and builds and builds, and there’s an amazing climax at the end,” Giuliano said. “Don’t do that. Put your best moment forward.”
Work with your team on creating a shared identity
Re-branding can be expensive. But why not have your players work together on creating a new logo, or pick out new uniforms for when you return?
At Springfield (Mass.) Central High, Principal Tad Tokarz took two dynamic ideas from the wrestling and football coaches and combined them for a fierce-looking logo that has given the Golden Eagles an identity that’s instantly recognized across the state.
Those same Eagles, by the way, are among the New England region’s most dominant in football, wrestling, and boys and girls basketball. Coincidence?
The internet is an infinity pool for inspiration when it comes to design. Revered brand consultant Jeremy Darlow is a great follow on Twitter, for one. And individual branding is only going to be increasingly important for this next generation—check out, for instance, what University of Oklahoma football did for its 2020 signing class.
Seeing is believing. There’s never been a better time to recalibrate your program’s evaluation methods. Want to see how Hudl’s video analysis tools keep your team engaged while you wait to return to the field? Take a look at all our offerings, or talk to an expert about setting up a free demo.