Football Canada’s teams and athletes are using video to focus on development.

The leaders of Football Canada are tasked with a massive undertaking. Even though the teams only come together a few times a year for tournaments, the organization is responsible for the improvement of hundreds of athletes across several teams–not to mention, keeping them all on the same page.

This made communication tricky. Coaches would send massive amounts of emails and physical documents, but had no idea how much or what information their athletes were actually consuming.

That all changed about six years ago when Football Canada linked up with Hudl. Hudl allows athletes constant access to video and messages from coaches, leading to their development and improvement even when the team isn’t physically together.

“One of the biggest struggles that we have is that, on a regular basis, most of our athletes are completely separate,” Aaron Geisler, Football Canada’s manager of development, said. “They’re all over the place and we rarely have access to them in one location. For them to have access to the video on a regular basis in between tournaments really helps them to learn the game.

“For us, it’s kind of a hub that we utilize to get our athletes on the same page. For example, our Junior National Team goes down to Texas (in January) and competes, but then they won’t see each other until the summer at the World Cup. In between that time, the Hudl platform is a good way to review what happened in Texas and prep for Worlds. That’s massive.”

Coaches now send video to players and ask them to grade performance and physically take notes. These reports are reviewed the next time the team gets a chance to come together.

“When an athlete is looking at the film, whether they’re on the field or they’re looking at the player that’s in their spot, is to use a grading system,” Geisler said. “We’ll say, ‘On that given play, what was the assignment? Was that assignment completed or was it not completed?’ We grade on a scale of 0, 1 or 2 in terms of it being exceptional. That allows them to focus exactly on what the job is.

“Similarly, when looking at skill film, we have them take notes on what they’re seeing. This allows them to be interacting with the video rather than being a passive observer.”

On the rare occasions when the teams gather in one place, the coaches are able to show their athletes specifically what to look for when watching video.

Gone are the written documents and unanswered emails. Now processes are streamlined, athletes learn more, and Football Canada is seeing more success—all due to their implementation of Hudl.

“We really couldn’t use film very often,” Geisler said. “You’d give them playbooks and as much information as you could through written documents, but outside of that, it was a struggle to communicate with the athletes and keep them on the same page.

“Hudl has really helped in terms of developing a program. For the coaches, it was a relief to be able to say, ‘We can keep things moving and effective and productive without using a ton of the players’ time but still keep them involved.’ Canada is a big country and it’s very tough to keep everyone going on the same page all the time.”