How Hudl Assist Taps into the Physical, Visual and Emotional Belief’ of Player Development

This girls soc­cer pow­er has long stood out for its devo­tion to film analy­sis. Adopting Hudl’s auto­mat­ed report­ing has only super­charged their abil­i­ty to play with­out thinking.

How Hudl Assist Taps into the Physical, Visual and Emotional Belief’ of Player Development

This girls soc­cer pow­er has long stood out for its devo­tion to film analy­sis. Adopting Hudl’s auto­mat­ed report­ing has only super­charged their abil­i­ty to play with­out thinking.

Before DVDs, before 8mm cas­sette tapes, and well before your aver­age soc­cer team invest­ed thou­sands into dis­sect­ing every inch of the pitch, Todd Kelly was already a film buff. 

But when the Loveland (Ohio) girls soc­cer head coach says you don’t know how excit­ed I was” to adopt Hudl, he means it. 

Version 1.0 of Kelly’s film break­down process a quar­ter-cen­tu­ry ago was a bear, near­ly wear­ing out the fast-for­ward and rewind but­tons on his VCR. Minutes stretched into what felt like eons as he searched for the right moments to pin down. 

This was a process that typ­i­cal­ly took sev­en to 10 hours of his week. But to take it to the same depth that he does with Hudl? He says that would have tak­en him about 20 to 24 hours”. With Assist reports, he’s doing it in as lit­tle as five.

We couldn’t do what we do now with­out Hudl,” Kelly says. There’s no way.”

In the days before a match, play­ers get a game-plan­ning pack­et that can exceed two dozen pages, using screen­grabs tak­en from Hudl film. With every data point on Assist reports tied to video, cre­at­ing one is sur­pris­ing­ly easy. 

Need to see how a scor­ing chance came about? Kelly clicks to the mark on the shot chart and takes the freeze-frame he needs. Wondering why they’re so strong in the mid­field? Kelly can open up the pos­ses­sion and pass string charts, see how their attacks built up, and stop where he needs to. No more search­ing blind­ly through an entire half of footage.

This work­flow allows the Loveland coach­es to com­mu­ni­cate robust infor­ma­tion in sim­ple terms. A typ­i­cal pack­et is whit­tled down to five talk­ing points: 

  • Three things they need to do well to win.
  • Two things they need to elim­i­nate from the opposition. 

And then on game-day morn­ings, head coach Todd Kelly tells them to take that pack­et and throw it in the trash”. They’re done thinking.

No prob­lem, coach. Everything’s already com­mit­ted to mus­cle memory.

We couldn’t do what we do with­out Hudl. There’s no way. Todd Kelly, Head Girls Soccer Coach, Loveland (Ohio) High School

Streamlined Corner Kick Reviews

Loveland has a well-earned rep­u­ta­tion for mas­ter­ing cor­ner kicks. And with it, con­fi­dence that they’re nev­er out of a game. So nat­u­ral­ly, this is the first thing Kelly looks at when he gets Hudl Assist reports on his game and scout films. Clicking the cor­ner kicks col­umn on the game report pop­u­lates them all in one neat playlist.

Loveland takes pride in how it excels at corner kicks. Getting instant feedback with Hudl Assist allows the Tigers to get to work fine-tuning them immediately.

As such, Loveland ded­i­cates expan­sive time prepar­ing set pieces. It’s not uncom­mon to spend a half-hour of every prac­tice on this area, and hours dis­sect­ing them on Hudl.

On game nights, the Tigers may have as many as 16 set plays on their menu, depend­ing on how the defense lines up. That also means play­ers have to be pre­pared enough to know, in an instant, which of those plays to run.

For us to be able to do that gran­u­lar and that lev­el of detail comes from watch­ing us on film and what our oppo­nents are doing,” Kelley says. So that we can pre­pare our kids, When you see this, because we’ve seen it on film of our oppo­nents, this is what you need to do, this is what [set piece] you need to run.’”

Pass String Data Makes a Difference

If you were to run Assist reports on Loveland’s 2017 state cham­pi­on squad, you would have found the Tigers were very direct, with few pass strings. This meant at times bypass­ing their skilled mid­field, to take advan­tage of some excep­tion­al tal­ents both at the back and up top.

This past sea­son, Loveland’s per­son­nel sug­gest­ed they’d be able to effi­cient­ly string pass­es togeth­er through the mid­field. But there were some issues. By look­ing through the pass string data on his team, assis­tant coach Dan Donovan made two key discoveries:

  1. When the ball was played to a Loveland play­er with an oppo­nent clos­ing down, they were turn­ing the ball over too quick­ly.
    It wasn’t that they don’t have a good touch, it was that the touch was in the wrong place.”
  2. Some of their off-ball move­ment was sub-par. Their runs didn’t stretch the defense enough, nor were they timed cor­rect­ly.
    It was still being, you know, stand­ing behind two defend­ers too late, and it caus­es us to have two or three touch­es on the ball-car­ri­er before the per­son was in the window.”

As a result, the Tigers made sig­nif­i­cant changes to their prac­tice reg­i­men to work on those fix­es. The pay­off was anoth­er region­al final berth. And with it, proof that con­firm­ing your hunch­es with visu­al data strength­ens your coach­ing lessons.

That goes for scout­ing, too. Loveland finds that the data on pass strings tends to reveal a lot right away about an opponent’s style of play. 

For instance, if your oppo­nent has few­er pass strings, that means they’re habit­u­al­ly play­ing direct. They’re look­ing to win the ball and imme­di­ate­ly play it for­ward, find­ing their tar­get down­field as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. More pass­es stringed togeth­er sug­gests a more pos­ses­sion-ori­ent­ed, build-up approach. They might knock it around the back line, try­ing to cre­ate pass­ing lanes by draw­ing oppo­nents out of position.

You have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate all three of those things that are impor­tant in play­er devel­op­ment — phys­i­cal, visu­al, and the emo­tion­al belief.” Donovan says of Assist. That’s how they’re going to work hard at it, repeat it, and not let it become a bad habit again.”

You have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate all three of those things that are impor­tant in play­er devel­op­ment — phys­i­cal, visu­al, and the emo­tion­al belief. Dan Donovan, Assistant Girls Soccer Coach, Loveland (Ohio) High School

Crawl Before You Walk

The advan­tage of Assist is easy to under­stand. Donovan’s advice to coach­es new to Hudl is to focus first on the essen­tials. That means a two-step process:

  1. Understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Plan prac­tices around that knowledge.

Seems sim­ple, right? But it’s easy to get car­ried away at first.

Just do those two things, before you get to any­thing else,” he says. You just have to try. But I do believe that if you go and think about every­thing you can do, it becomes too over­whelm­ing to start.”

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Hudl Assist doesn’t just empow­er your coach­ing staff to take your analy­sis sub­stan­tial­ly deep­er — it lets you do it in far less time. These reports are easy to digest. And with every stat tied direct­ly to video, you’ll give your­self count­less hours back while dou­bling down on details you nev­er knew before.

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