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.

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