Cahn Leads Bris­bane Olympic into the Future with Video and Data Analysis

After a Grand Final appear­ance in 2018, Bris­bane Olympic FC coach Ben Cahn is tak­ing the Queens­land club in the right direction. 

Learn how he com­bines advanced data and sta­tis­tics to improve per­for­mance and gain key coach­ing insights.

After fin­ish­ing as the run­ner-up in the top lev­el of state foot­ball in Queens­land, Bris­bane Olympic FC are using Hudl Assist to stream­line their analy­sis work­flow and pro­vide qual­i­ty data for their coach­ing team.

Hudl Assist is a key tool for sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis as it gives teams match break­downs with­in 24 hours of the final whis­tle. Hudl’s expert ana­lysts allow head coach Ben Cahn to rein­vest time where it mat­ters most.

We’re quite new to the Hudl Assist pro­gram but it’s real­ly easy to send our games across and every­thing comes back with­in 12 – 24 hours,” said Cahn. It’s been real­ly effi­cient, real­ly easy to use, and it’s real­ly helped us speed up our process­es in terms of what we want to do.”

Cahn and his coach­ing team aim to be as detailed as pos­si­ble with the match data they col­lect, whether that’s sub­jec­tive or objec­tive data. The time Hudl Assist saves allows them to do a more in-depth analy­sis of their games.

We’re quite lim­it­ed on staff, it’s real­ly only our ana­lyst Nathan Muir and myself, plus a cou­ple of oth­er vol­un­teers when pos­si­ble,” explains Cahn. We save time off the tag­ging and the cod­ing process because we now receive that straight­away from Assist, which frees up those guys and myself to do any of the oth­er work that we want to do.”

Recent­ly linked to the head coach­ing role at the Bris­bane Roar, the 31-year-old coach has 13 years of coach­ing expe­ri­ence, includ­ing key exper­tise in using data to improve foot­ball per­for­mance. Hudl Assist com­ple­ments this advanced, spe­cial­ist area of coaching. 

On a team lev­el, we’ve cre­at­ed an advanced expect­ed goals mod­el which is a met­ric that is usu­al­ly based on loca­tion of the shot,” said Cahn.

We have advanced that to a new lev­el by tak­ing into account how many oppo­nents were in the area, what was the goalkeeper’s posi­tion, and who was the play­er tak­ing the shot, so one of the big things that we’re real­ly enjoy­ing about Hudl Assist is the shot map.

We can pull up any shot from the game and that will help us to run our expect­ed goals mod­el on our­selves, on our oppo­nents, and actu­al­ly on every game we play in the competition.”

To add anoth­er lev­el to this advanced data analy­sis, Cahn pro­duces detailed spread­sheets to analyse upcom­ing oppo­nents in detail.

We basi­cal­ly have a pro­file on every team in the com­pe­ti­tion that includes about 30 dif­fer­ent data met­rics,” said Cahn.

All of them are derived from video analy­sis so every­thing we receive from Hudl goes direct­ly into these sheets either sub­jec­tive­ly or objec­tive­ly analysing those moments.”

This data analy­sis extends beyond team analy­sis to indi­vid­ual play­er break­downs, anoth­er exam­ple of an inno­v­a­tive approach using Hudl Assist game data to gen­er­ate coach­ing insights.

Expect­ed goals is one of the met­rics we use but there are many oth­ers. Aside from a pro­file on every team, we then have a data pro­file of every play­er in the league as well,” said Cahn.

This means we have real­ly good insight into which play­ers are influ­en­tial for their teams, which play­ers are poten­tial­ly weak for their teams in cer­tain moments of the game, and once we’ve col­lect­ed all of that at the end of each week, we actu­al­ly have a league table that we can fil­ter in which order the table is done in.

Rather than just look­ing at score lines and sub­jec­tive­ly analysing the game, we’ve got about 30 dif­fer­ent met­rics that can con­tribute to our analy­sis process and paint a real­ly clear pic­ture of how things are actu­al­ly going based on their per­for­mances, based against which type of teams we play, and with­in that which play­ers are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence and which play­ers are poten­tial­ly hold­ing things back.”

After coach­ing the youth sec­tion of the A-League’s Cen­tral Coast Mariners, Cahn’s ambi­tion is to coach full time in Australia’s top com­pe­ti­tion. Keep­ing up with lat­est trends in data and sta­tis­tics is one area that he rec­om­mends to coach­es with aspi­ra­tions to reach the top of the game. 

One of the most valu­able things for a coach at any lev­el is to keep up with trends. But not just keep up, it’s impor­tant to try and stay ahead,” said Cahn.

In regards to data analy­sis, you know it’s some­thing that’s mov­ing very quick­ly. It moves at a rapid rate, some­thing that we were doing a month ago might be old some­where else now.”

There’s a real focus on stay­ing ahead, and some­times that means using the data we get from Hudl to exper­i­ment and try things that may have not been done before.”

Cahn’s coach­ing jour­ney has seen a change in the way sta­tis­tics, data and video analy­sis are received in the game. From ini­tial skep­ti­cism, it’s now a vital com­po­nent of any seri­ous foot­ball team.

I think there are some real­ly good foot­ball brains and peo­ple that can pick things just by watch­ing, but I think it’s real­ly impor­tant to clar­i­fy and back up what you’re see­ing with what the num­bers are telling you,” said Cahn.

There are a lots of skep­tics in the game and believe me I was one of them, most­ly because at the start of my career I was quite scared of data when I was not par­tic­u­lar­ly tech­no­log­i­cal­ly gifted.

I know that there are peo­ple that are skep­ti­cal and prob­a­bly fear­ful of the rise in analy­sis. But with­out a doubt at any lev­el if you’re seri­ous about ana­lyz­ing your­self and your oppo­nents, it’s a non-nego­tiable for me.”

To learn more about how Hudl Assist is help­ing teams rein­vest time where it mat­ters most, click here.