New York Soccer Club and the Development of Youth Soccer

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Coach of the Year Christian Gonzalez talks play­er devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of video analy­sis at the club level. 

New York Soccer Club and the Development of Youth Soccer

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Coach of the Year Christian Gonzalez talks play­er devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of video analy­sis at the club level. 

New York Soccer Club is in its rel­a­tive infan­cy, but that hasn’t stopped its lead­ers from look­ing at ways to innovate.

Seven years ago, local club head coach and for­mer pro­fes­sion­al play­er Christian Gonzalez was approached by founder Mark Heffernan about join­ing. After my career was done, I decid­ed that, you know, I real­ly loved the game and that I want­ed to con­tin­ue being a part of the game. I thought the best way to do that was in teach­ing, and teach­ing kids how to play.

Ever since then it’s been a life­long jour­ney in becom­ing the best pos­si­ble coach that I can be.”

Gonzalez, cur­rent­ly the Director of Coaching at New York Soccer Club, has seen the club grow into a peren­ni­al pow­er — the club’s U17 team recent­ly became the first team to ever repeat as nation­al cham­pi­ons at any lev­el. At the core of their suc­cess is their belief in the club’s phi­los­o­phy. They’ve real­ly bought into being able to move the ball real­ly quick. They know our style of play inside and out. They know our NYSC prin­ci­ples of play like the back of their hand, and that’s real­ly con­tributed to the suc­cess of that par­tic­u­lar team,” said Gonzalez.

But it’s the suc­cess of the club as a whole that stands out. They have been able to pro­duce no less than 18 youth nation­al team call-ups, and that’s tru­ly a tes­ta­ment to the work they put in on the field day in and day out. “[The club’s founders] put a huge empha­sis on play­ing style. They saw the game as a pass­ing and receiv­ing game. To do that, we need­ed to come up with a cur­ricu­lum that was easy to imple­ment, and a prac­tice struc­ture that was easy to fol­low for our coach­es. Through tech­nol­o­gy, which we’ve always embraced, we’ve been able to uni­fy our abil­i­ty to deliv­er con­sis­tent cur­ricu­lum,” said Gonzalez.

Instead of invest­ing hours to go and watch a game, we can sit there and watch many more games from our office.” Christian Gonzalez

The club uses tools like insid​es​oc​cer​.com as a club man­age­ment plat­form to cre­ate les­son plans. It allows the team to set a bet­ter stan­dard of club prac­tices for each coach to fol­low. This European style of edu­ca­tion — with uni­fied tac­tics and train­ing at every age lev­el — is grow­ing in the States. The founders of the club real­ly believed in it,” added Gonzalez.

It’s mas­sive. There’s only one way to do it, and that’s our coach­es buy­ing into our phi­los­o­phy and imple­ment­ing it from the time the play­ers enter the club to the time they leave.”

All teams play the same way — a 4 – 3-3 for­ma­tion, with two attack­ing mid­field­ers, one hold­ing mid, a flat-back four, a sev­en, nine, and 11 — and they do it con­sis­tent­ly. The coach­es imple­ment what the club wants from them, and their play­ers devel­op step-by-step as they move up age groups. It’s impres­sive to see,” said Gonzalez.

The club quick­ly real­ized that video analy­sis could add depth to their method­ol­o­gy from top to bot­tom. You know, before Hudl, it was kind of ad hoc. Coaches would video tape games and coach­es would watch it. We’d kind of clip it, but with the advent of Hudl, it made things so much eas­i­er for us — post games, share them with our play­ers, make notes — and it’s less time-con­sum­ing than the way we were doing it. And, we can do it more often for our play­ers and teams. We felt that was a great addi­tion to our devel­op­ment mod­el,” said Gonzalez. 

As ear­ly as last sea­son, New York Soccer Club ful­ly imple­ment­ed Hudl and asked all of their coach­es to coor­di­nate film­ing games. It’s been mas­sive for the club and its lead­ers. It was a great way to see what the lev­el was look­ing like amongst teams. Instead of invest­ing hours to go and watch a game, we can sit there and watch many more games from our office. So that was anoth­er great way we imple­ment­ed it — actu­al­ly get­ting to watch as many games as pos­si­ble,” added Gonzalez.

If you’re a seri­ous pro­fes­sion­al and you want to improve your team, you have to know exact­ly what’s going on in each game. Just view­ing it live, you’ll nev­er catch everything.” Christian Gonzalez

As a mem­ber of the United States Development Academy sys­tem, the club uses Hudl’s league exchange tools to share video with the DA, allow­ing them to scout play­ers and assess top tal­ent. They can log in and look at a par­tic­u­lar game and scout the play­er that way, ver­sus trav­el­ing to like New Hampshire to watch this game live or else [they] won’t get to see that play­er,” added Gonzalez. It’s a great way for the Development Academy to adopt Hudl and use it in these dif­fer­ent ways. Obviously, the most basic is for game analy­sis for your own team — which helps with development.”

New York Soccer Club has been on board since the spring, using Hudl to not only watch every team at the club’s match­es, but to stim­u­late play­er growth and devel­op­ment. Most play­ers have real­ly not seen them­selves play, and they have a hard time tak­ing in cer­tain coach­ing points,” said Gonzalez.

Let’s say a play­er is over-drib­bling. You tell them that and they watch the video, it’s clear as day. So that’s how we view video — as a huge ben­e­fit in the devel­op­ment process — and for our play­ers to clean up those deci­sion-mak­ing actions. It’s a huge ben­e­fit in that way.”

Gonzalez believes that video analy­sis not only helps stim­u­late devel­op­ment, but can help younger ath­letes devel­op quick­er. Like I said, this is the most clear exam­ple that we get at our club, we ask our play­ers to play quick for the most part. In the defen­sive mid­dle-third, we ask them to play at a rhythm where [the ball] is received and passed, ver­sus reced­ing and tak­ing four or five touch­es and get­ting caught with the ball,” added Gonzalez. “ So those play­ers, a lot of the time, once you tell them on the field that they are tak­ing too many touch­es, they don’t see it. Sometimes it’s for cer­tain rea­sons, maybe their vision isn’t that great or their first touch isn’t there so they take a few extra touches.

Once they see it on video, it just speeds up that devel­op­ment process. That’s how we see it improv­ing their development.”

Gonzalez is a firm believ­er in the impact that Hudl can have with every club. From top to bot­tom, the ben­e­fits of video analy­sis are clear. “[Hudl] is real­ly the only way to get a detailed look at what’s going on. If you’re a seri­ous pro­fes­sion­al and you want to improve your team, you have to know exact­ly what’s going on in each game. Just view­ing it live, you’ll nev­er catch everything.

It takes some work, there’s no doubt about that, but if you’re a seri­ous pro­fes­sion­al and you want to be the best pos­si­ble coach and improve your team, this is what you need.”

If you’re inter­est­ed in using Hudl with your club or team, let us know at sales @hudl.com, or sign up for a free tri­al today.