Not Just For the Pros: How Video Can Help Grassroots Programs

FC St. Helens puts an empha­sis on util­is­ing video analy­sis through­out their edu­ca­tion of young play­ers. We sat down with their staff to learn more about how they imple­ment it.

Not Just For the Pros: How Video Can Help Grassroots Programs

FC St. Helens puts an empha­sis on util­is­ing video analy­sis through­out their edu­ca­tion of young play­ers. We sat down with their staff to learn more about how they imple­ment it.

The cen­tral mis­sion for many grass­roots foot­ball clubs is cen­tered around play­er devel­op­ment, and FC St. Helens is no dif­fer­ent. Established in 2014, the club com­petes in Division 1 of the Hallmark Cheshire Football League, and although it are still in its rel­a­tive infan­cy, it’s clear that it will focus on just that. 

Steve Leather, the gaffer at the club, made FC St. Helens’ mis­sion clear, “[the] club was formed to ensure its youth play­ers had a prop­er exit route into a high­er stan­dard of football.” 

We sat down with Leather and Assistant First-Team Manager Nick Dunn to learn more about the cul­ture at FC St. Helens and to see how video analy­sis is help­ing them achieve their mission. 

What’s the central philosophy of the club? 

Leather — It’s sim­ple. We want to play eye-pleas­ing foot­ball. The empha­sis is on pro­duc­ing our own tal­ent from our ranks of junior play­ers. The play­er is cen­tral to the club, whether they are six years old or open age. We pro­vide the very best we can, so play­ers can be the best they can be. Our club is built on cre­at­ing the right atmos­phere to be in.

On both sides it’s very much about how we can cre­ate a pro­fes­sion­al image and pro­vide the very best we can offer our play­ers. It doesn’t cost a lot to have a pro­fes­sion­al out­look, and this is very much were Hudl comes in. We are the only club in our league offer­ing an analy­sis solu­tion to our players.”

How did you come across Hudl then?

Dunn — It was intro­duced to our club via our chair­man who has a very pro­gres­sive vision for the club. We act as pro­fes­sion­al as we can for a club which isn’t and Hudl allows us to do that.” 

Now that the club is on Hudl, what’s stood out to you so far?

Leather — We are only a grass­root club, so we only train for two hours per week, Hudl allows us to get from two man-hours per-week train­ing to now four, six, eight or even 10 hours as play­ers are always watch­ing video and read­ing notes. Players retain infor­ma­tion more when they see it in action. Dunn — It’s ease of use, also. It is a rare appli­ca­tion designed with the end user in mind, and also the con­stant devel­op­ment of the prod­uct. It seems their is repeat­ed updates which enhances my abil­i­ty to analyse games.”

Which features of Hudl do you use most on a day-to-day basis?

Leather — Annotating the videos and cre­at­ing spe­cif­ic playlists for my play­ers. I typ­i­cal­ly watch back games — always our last match and any video we have on the oppo­si­tion — dur­ing the week lead­ing up to a game. This allows me to focus on spe­cif­ic ele­ments of a game we need to focus on and cre­ate playlists. I then use the mes­sage sys­tem to com­mu­ni­cate this along with dia­grams and my oth­er notes ahead of the game.”

What do the players think of Hudl?

Dunn — They think it is great. We have cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment where all the play­ers love to be devel­oped — and this gives them more con­tact points with me as a coach. The fact they live on their phones and the app is so good also means it is con­ve­nient for them.

Leather — We held a launch day were play­ers came in to the club­house to review a game, now the play­ers dri­ve this and demand every game on video. Players retain infor­ma­tion more when they see it in action.”

What would you say to a coach who’s on the fence about getting on board with Hudl?

Dunn — It allows you to observe things you wouldn’t nor­mal­ly be able to. The details, the build­ing blocks of your play­ers game. I am a great believ­er that obser­va­tion is a key as any oth­er skill a coach has and Hudl gives you clar­i­ty on this.

Also not just in terms of the play­ers — you can use it to analyse and devel­op your own ses­sions as it allows you to cri­tique your­self, and let’s be hon­est that is some­thing we can’t do enough of.”

For FC St. Helens their unique approach to devel­op­ment, with video analy­sis at the fore­front, has the club set up for future suc­cess not only on the pitch but off of it as well. With 23 teams under the staffs man­age­ment, it can be hard to focus on the indi­vid­ual, but video allows them to do just that.

Request a free demo and expe­ri­ence the pow­er of video analy­sis first-hand.