By Darren Callaghan
There’s a better way for soccer coaches to get their message across to young athletes — and it starts with video.
Data. Analysis. Statistics. Film. These words haven’t always been part of the soccer world, but over time they’ve become extremely powerful components to coaching and athlete development.
A prime example is Lincoln City. Glenn Skingsley, the club’s Performance Analyst, says the addition of video has helped their development and lead to their successful FA Cup run.
Nowadays, coaches don’t have to dedicate hours on the field to go over and over concepts and drills until the team understands. There’s a better way. And it starts with video.
Video never lies
Today, the majority of people are visual learners, and our teens are spending up to nine hours a day consuming media. Our youth are immersed in technology, which makes film review a natural extension to their everyday habits. By adding video into their workflow, coaches are capturing the attention of their players in a format that already resonates with them.
Video allows athletes to objectively watch moments as many times as they need to learn from their mistakes. For me as a coach, video allows me to build more credibility with my players. Coaching points really hit home when I can show my athletes what actually happened and what they can do to improve.
Players on the field often remember the game, or a situation, differently from their peers and coaches on the sideline. For example, in a recent tournament, I was able to upload my games right after they ended, which made it really easy to review and strategize for the following day.
In my review, I saw my midfield get blamed for a last minute goal we conceded. But I knew the problem was our shape, and players playing out of position. After reviewing the game film, I showed my center backs how they were both out of position and allowed an opposing player to make a free run in the box. By showing them a visual, I gave them what they needed to make corrections for the next day.
Game film never lies. With video, coaches and athletes can verify these moments and turn them into learning opportunities. I always have my Hudl app up, with clips prepared for a game, so I can show my players things they can be doing better right in the moment.
And game review doesn’t stop there — after every game I ask my players to go into our film account and find three things they did well and three areas they’d like to improve upon. Once they do this, I can go in and add comments to their clips so they can get my take on what happened.
This also allows me to better understand how my players think and analyze situations. By allowing them to solve problems on their own in a more visual learning environment, I’m giving them more autonomy on the field and enabling them to make the necessary adjustments. It’s all in their hands now!
More data means more visibility
Using data and statistics is especially new for club coaches. But diving into the numbers adds more value to the game video, and has been gaining in popularity.
Breaking down my team’s games has been a big help in planning future sessions. I use the stat sheet and typically look at how many shots we take compared to the amount of goals we scored. This allows me to see the areas of crossing and finishing we need to work on.
Possession linked with goals allows me to track if we’re accomplishing anything with our passes. For example, if we have a higher possession percentage, but scored fewer goals, we’re passing with no real purpose. This is obviously a problem because it suggests we’re holding the ball just to keep it. Now I know we need to work on breaking into the final third, passing with a purpose, and finishing with a goal.
Data has a huge impact on individual players too. I can be a lot more specific in my coaching. Every player has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, and the data makes them obvious. Then I go back to the video to customize my lessons for each athlete.
There’s another group that can benefit from video and data — parents. I recently started sharing this technology with the parents of my players.
Showing them that we as coaches are making investments into their athletes’ success creates a much better parent-coach relationship. Not to mention I now have data to back up my opinion during player evaluation conversations.
Professional teams like Man City showcasing how they use video in a recent Amazon documentary has coaches thinking. This is really only the beginning of video and data analysis in soccer.
As technology continues to get better and become more mainstream, it’s only a matter of time until video and data become the main preparation tools for coaches. The more we continue to embrace video, the more we’ll help grow the game and players alike.