Soc­cer Coach­es Get an Edge With Video and Stats

There’s a bet­ter way for soc­cer coach­es to get their mes­sage across to young ath­letes — and it starts with video.

Soc­cer Coach­es Get an Edge With Video and Stats

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.

New oppor­tu­ni­ties

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.