High school coach Chris Brablc gives an in-depth, unedited account of his basketball team’s experience with Hudl.
Chris Brablc is an assistant basketball coach at Saugus High School and blogs about basketball at http://basketballgrowthmindset.com. He wrote a review of Hudl for basketball coaches in June and agreed to let us share on our site. This is an unbiased, unpaid account of what one coach thinks of Hudl.
If you coach at the Varsity level in basketball, you’ve probably either heard of Hudl (or Krossover, which I have not used) or have been given access by your AD. This is a review of Hudl for use by basketball coaches on how it can help with capturing, editing and analyzing game film and statistics. The review is based on our use of it at Saugus High School during the 2016-2017 Girls Varsity basketball season.
Below, I’ll give an overview of:
- What Hudl Does for Basketball Coaches
- Our Process Before and After Hudl for key functions
- Benefits and Weaknesses of Using Hudl
What Hudl Does for Basketball Coaches
Hudl is a game film software platform that enables you to upload, tag, cut and share video with your players as well as publish team highlights online. It’s one of a few software tools out there to upload and tag game film for basketball.
In general it will help you with the following:
- Capture and centrally store practice and game film to make available to your coaches and players
- Create highlights and cut video for individual and team use including automatic highlights created for players based on tags
- Easily tag stats for both your team and the opponents
- Team and individual stat reports including game summaries, season stats, shot charts, etc.
In short, it helps you to centrally store your game film to share with players and coaches while providing easy ways to tag the game for cutting video clips or highlights and tracking overall individual and team stats for you an your opponent.
At Saugus High School, we received use of the Hudl tool since the Football team uses it and the school bought a license. This was our first year using Hudl for game film.
For the 3 years previous, we had used a combination of YouTube and Google Spreadsheets to share game film, create highlights and track stats.
Let’s go through what each of these looked like before and after Hudl for us at Saugus.
Game Film Capture, Editing and Sharing
For every game, Mark, our head coach, would provide a camcorder to our team managers or member of the JV team to record our game. He’d take the film, upload the video to his computer and then would upload to a YouTube account for coaches to view the film (see below).
In many cases, uploading twice (once to computer and then YouTube) could take 2-3 days to be available to coaches. To cut that film into highlights for the players, Mark would typically use iMovie to create shorter video clips that he would upload to YouTube for use before practices for players.
In summary, we had the following bottlenecks for game film:
- Making the game fill available to coaches took too long (especially when we had a 3 game week)
- Cutting film for the team much less for specific players was cumbersome and time consuming.
We use the Hudl iPad app to capture all of our games. Our team managers or a member of the JV team usually records the game via an iPad we supply. We had used a camcorder but overall the Hudl iPad app enables us to easily record and most importantly easily upload the game film to the Hudl site once the iPad makes it to WiFi. Typically, we can get the game film up and available the night of the game.
After the video uploads, it is made available to all players and coaches and we can begin tagging the game (see more on that below). Every once in a while we experience a lag in the film but overall the app performs just as good as the camcorder does with final upload.
We played with the video highlights and playlist a lot over the season and what we ended with is this:
- Tagging: I’ll get into what tagging entails below but basically this enables us to go through the film easier by tagging the key plays happening throughout the game. I also like the feature where you can get to all video clips that correspond with stats in the stats section with a single click.
- Sharing Video: We also leverage the sharing feature with opposing coaches on occasion to share scouting film.
- Automatic Highlights: If you finalize the tags for your games, automatic highlights will be created for the players and the game based on rules (double doubles, multiple steals, blocks, buzzer beaters to name a few). While these aren’t terribly instructive, the players like to view their highlights and it’s cool that this requires no work to do other than tagging.
- Team & Player Highlights: These highlights are ones you can designate while watching film to potentially include in external highlights for a player or team. The problem with these is more so that they are built for positive plays vs. teaching film and there are problems that make it a bit cumbersome to use at the moment which I’ll get to below in “weaknesses”.
- Playlists: This feature enables you to group snippets of film together under a specific category (i.e. specific inbound plays). After playing around with these, we ultimately came to the following as the easiest and best solution for using these as educational / pump up videos for our players. Here’s what we did:
- For each player we created a playlist with their name (i.e. Allie K or Rachel N). As we watched the game film, the coaches were able to add highlights to these playlists which we shared with the players. The highlights were a combination of recognizing great plays and areas of improvement. Hudl provides cool message and writing tools on the video clips which we used to communicate with the players on each highlight.
- This worked pretty well overall as it gave us another method of communication with players that they could watch on their own time and showed them in game some points of emphasis. This was independent of game film we’d show before practices to the full team.
There were a few main differences before and after Hudl.
- Game Film Turnaround Time Decreased Significantly: We have reduced the film turnaround time from 2-3 days to it being uploaded the same day in most cases. We also have made a consistent effort to record and upload all games which didn’t always happen before.
- More Player Specific Film: As we mentioned with Playlists, we’ve been able to produce more clips to help coach players based on their in-game play. This was great way to emphasize success and areas of improvement without taking up practice or film time with the whole team.
- Players Create Their Own Highlights: This is a feature that only a few of our players have used but Hudl enables players to create their own highlights and is a feature that I believe more players will take advantage of in the future.
Tracking and Analyzing Stats
This is our fourth year coaching at the varsity level and we’ve been becoming more and more sophisticated in how we use stats to understand and validate our thoughts on the team and players. Our first few years, we only kept points stats and some rebound statistics from the book. The last two years with film, we’ve evolved into tracking everything from the box score as well as some advanced metrics that we can use to analyze progress and players.
I like spreadsheets and as such I put together a whopper to track all of our stats from our games. To track the stats I tracked manually while watching game film for all players. I then put in the stats for individual games into separate tabs for all players and had it flow into subsequent Total tabs for player stats and overall team stats. The spreadsheet was over 30 tabs (see below)!
First off, this spreadsheet was cumbersome. Not only was it relying on my hand counts watching film but it was also relying on me not making a mistake in the formulas of the spreadsheet. It was still very useful but far from ideal.
And you’ll also notice that we didn’t have all the game stats. Which is something we’ve cleared up with Hudl.
This season we went through and tagged every game once it was uploaded into Hudl. Tagging requires you to go through the game and tag every statistic for every player for both your opponent and your team. It’s pretty intuitive and I actually enjoyed doing it as I watched back the game film as I got a better sense of how our players and team played.
Tagging a single game in Hudl took about 2 – 2 1/2 hours to do so it is a commitment to do. However, once tagged it does all the work for you in terms of accumulating the statistics for each player and game summary. With our game films tagged we would look at the following:
- Player performance to date: We were able to see the performance of our players based on advanced stats and things such as Plus Minus, which we never had before. We were also able to share stats with players on their season.
- Game Summaries: For each game, the summary were very useful for us as we decompressed from a win and a loss to determine what we or the opponent did that led to the result.
- For instance, in one of our losses, we realized that our opponent shot 50% from the floor and 40% from 3 in a 1 point loss. While there were things we definitely worked on from that game, we could also chalk it up to a team that had the best game of their season on shots they don’t usually hit (which we know from watching scouting film).
- Quarter Analysis: This was a big one for us as we realized that in our games we were greatly outscoring teams in the 4th quarter. This isn’t too surprising as we are a deep team and we play fast to try and tire teams out but it was good affirmation in our strategy and great halftime and end of the 3rd quarter content that we used a ton with the team.
In short, Hudl has helped us get to where we wanted to be while making it easier to compile and view other metrics that we weren’t able to do before. It helped us inform player evaluation, areas of emphasis and to test our assumptions on the team.
Benefits and Weaknesses of Hudl
Overall, Hudl has been a tremendous tool for us to organize both our game film and our statistics. It has saved us hours on doing what we had to do manually and helped to better expose this work to our players. That being said, there are still a few things I’d like to see Hudl improve in the tool to make it even better (and can tell you the Hudl team has been very open minded and attentive to these requests.)
- Saves Time on Film: It greatly reduces the time to make game film available and centralized. This is huge for our team and if you don’t use game film, I’d highly recommend you start!
- Deeper Stats & Analytics: While it doesn’t provide everything I’d want (I’d like the ability to tag custom plays) it provides the box score and more advanced analytics that help us evaluate our team and opponents. This helps us determine game plans, areas of improvement and test assumptions in a way that is informed.
- Player Involvement in Film: This will definitely become more adopted the more we use Hudl but it enables our players to access the same film as the coaches and for coaches to share film with players outside of practice and games. It’s a helpful tool for targeted video for players.
- Highlights are still clunky: I’ve spoken with the Hudl team on this and I believe there are updates happening here but the Highlight and Playlist functionality is a bit clunky right now (as of March 2017 this year). We jerry-rigged the process we use above but think there could be improvements in the following:
- Tag Clips for Highlights and Playlists while Tagging: Right now you can either Tag stats or Cut Clips but you can’t do at the same time. This requires you to watch the game twice and is very inconvenient.
- Tag a Clip Once for use in multiple Highlights or Playlists: If say I want cut a clip for use both with the entire team and for a specific player playlist, I have to cut the clip twice. It’s a real pain and could be easier if there was a central clip repository to pull into highlights or playlists.
- Playlists cannot be organized: Playlist clips are organized by the time you add them to the playlist. There currently is no way to organize or move clips to a different order after the fact. That’s not too big of a problem with the player highlights we pull but is a problem when showing a playlist on a specific offense or play.
- Export Stats & Data: I’d like the ability to easily export data from Hudl for putting into spreadsheets. I’ve done this through copy and paste but would be useful to dig into data even further.
The strengths of Hudl far outweigh the weaknesses as the weaknesses are nitpicks from a power user category that I doubt many would fall into. I’m not sure what we would do without it at Saugus.
I highly recommend Hudl as it will help you see your team and games in a different light and if you put the time in, better understand success and failure for your team.
We're thankful that Chris agreed to share his testimony with us, and we'd love to hear from more coaches. If you have a review that you'd like to share, feel free to tweet it to @HudlHoops or share you story with us here.