How do you get 90 percent engagement across your program during a pandemic? IMG Academy’s Technical Director showed us how he uses Hudl to bring his coaching philosophy to life.
Last month, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) Technical Director Andy Thomson held a live Q&A with club and high school coaches to discuss how he leverages data and technology using Hudl.
The pandemic sweeping the world over brought some unexpected virtues to the program. Thomson estimates they have 90 percent engagement across the entire academy, with coaches a huge driver in using video for player development.
Thomson also showed us how he ties coaching philosophy and game model in a way that puts those players front and center. The key? Making the complexities of the game simple to evaluate — or, as he repeated several times throughout the hour-long talk, “Keeping the main thing the main thing.”
That’s not always easy to do.
“We live in an age where everyone has a wonderful PowerPoint presentation, but it doesn’t come alive until it’s alive in the player’s brain,” Thomson said.
Here’s how IMG does it:
Creating an environment of trust
When players and coaches watch film together, they find themselves being more honest with each other. IMG found live video conferences to be a great tool for bridging tough conversations about performance.
Setting objective reference points within the video helps coaches and athletes have better discussions, because it’s no longer opinion-based.
“There’s no hiding space,” he says. “It’s real, and there’s substance to it.”
Setting a high bar of competition
That honesty, in turn, raises the bar for everyone. Thomson showed an example from one of his most competitive 16-year-old players, Laurel Chan, pointing out the meticulous attention to detail that developed organically.
“Some players were outstanding from the start, which set the pace for everyone else,” he said. “It’s way more powerful when the players set the example for each other.”
Moving forward, IMG has evidence that the players actually understand the principles that were taught over the last year. They can use this as reference material for moving the players from one phase of development to the next.
Owning the game model
To accelerate development and athlete’s understanding of the game, IMG has pushed their teams to break down video using IMG’s game model.
For example, a coach picks a game and a topic, such as attacking or build-up, etc., and empowers the athletes to interpret what they’re seeing based on the curriculum.
“At any given moment, we can ask the players what they were thinking and have them explain it to the coach but in a safe space,” Thomson says. “The video allows us to go back and say this is what we wanted, this is what we got, and here’s what we could do differently. Or, maybe they made a great decision and we can just say ‘well done’.”
Going from “big to small” in game reviews
Having Hudl Assist reports has been a terrific asset in giving Thomson a cursory look at IMG’s performances, delivering the content they need right away instead of painstakingly going through every moment in the game. From there, they’re able to go back, fine-tune the details and set KPIs.
“It’s really helpful for us to get a 10,000-foot, zoomed-out view,” he said.
Being able to look at the game in 15-minute periods, for instance, was particularly useful because of the Ascenders’ periodized conditioning. The more fit a soccer team is, the more frequently you see goals scored outweigh goals conceded later in games.
Thomson also found the pass string data in Assist useful. Being able to go right to the build-up of each string lets them call out what players did well at all the right moments.