Winning a state title is on every team’s list of season goals. Yes, improving skills, developing as a team and forging bonds that last a lifetime are important, but that state title is icing on the cake.
For Michael Gardiner, head boys lacrosse coach at Virginia Episcopal School, raising the state title banner is not only an honor, but the culmination of the work required to be in a position to win a championship.
Virginia Episcopal School used Hudl Assist, and was able to use the time saved typically searching for clips to develop quality film study sessions. “It allowed us all, with limited time, limited attention spans, including my own, to efficiently review everything quickly,” Gardiner said.
"It was really efficient, it took me no time and it was great to have that on days that I didn't have time to go through it myself. I could put the computer in front of the guys and just say we're going to go over the goals against us and see what happens."
With games returned within 24 hours, Gardiner was able to review the video with stats attached the next morning and create playlists to review with his players that afternoon. “I had time before work started to go through it and pick out the plays that I liked,” Gardiner said. “Or the ones I want to go over with the kids in the afternoon because it was all teed up already.”
It didn’t take long for Gardiner’s players to catch on. After the going through their coach’s routine a few times, players began to understand the expectations and felt confident in speaking up. “We had guys raising their hands right away and talking and saying, 'Coach, can you rewind that?' or, 'Look over here on the left,’” Gardiner recalled. “We wouldn't have been able to do that without having this all done ahead of time.”
With more free time and streamlined film sessions, Gardiner and his staff focused on developing and improving the team. With the film tagged by Assist, they were able to filter through their games easily and identified two areas they wanted to focus on: face-offs and goals against.
Because Gardiner could filter to each face-off with one click, he was able to spend the time normally used searching for each face-off on specific techniques used by his players. “We just had to open the game, click face-offs and we were automatically looking at every single one,” Gardiner said. “And then we were stopping it, pausing it and talking about where their hands were relative to the other guy.”
Gardiner was also able to also show his face-off players it wasn’t enough to get the ball, they had to get it to their teammate. “It helped the guys develop a little more, especially with patience,” he said. “To see on the film they're so fixated on the ball, stop looking at that and see where their wings were going.”
For his defense, Gardiner was able to create playlists and share the video with his players. “You could move those clips to a playlist, and then create a group of the guys I want to look at it and I just pushed that out to the group and say ‘Please review this before practice,’” Gardiner said. To hold them accountable, he would add quizzes to make sure they did their part.
That dedication and improvement drove the team to earn the one seed in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state tournament. With the aid of Assist, Gardiner and his team were prepared for each game, including the state title match.
There are always jitters before a game of such magnitude, but with easy access to the necessary information, Gardiner said his team was as prepared as they could have been.
"We wouldn't have been able to [review film] without having this all done ahead of time. We would have lost the time and the focus trying to find the spot in the tape or I would be exhausted from all night staying up and breaking down tape."
“It got us ready for that team. We went into that game pretty confident, but just nervous because it's the state championship,” Gardiner said. “Being able to view tape and review things definitely helped out. And you saw that with running a more successful offense, being more successful on the face offs and the wing play, and honestly doing a better job of getting in and out of the zone defense.”
After experiencing all that Hudl and Hudl Assist has to offer, Gardiner won’t be changing any time soon. “The previous year we probably spent about the same amount of time on tape, but it wasn't nearly as effective as it was this year. I want to build on that,” he said.