The Hammerheads lean on technology to develop players and make winning adjustments in season, resulting in a fourth-place finish in ECNL National rankings.

The Wilmington Hammerheads Youth Football Club, located in a small, east coast port city in North Carolina, has made waves competing against top clubs in the ECNL — one of the top competitive soccer programs in the country. 

In the 2021-2022 campaign, Wilmington's ECNL 07s team finished fourth nationally. How does a small club make the jump from a longshot into a contender?

07s coach Jyler Noviello will tell you first and foremost it’s a talented group of players that work hard and commit to the game plan. However, the club’s nimble approach to player development supports its talented athletes and keeps the club on even footing with top teams across the country.

The Rewards of Innovation

The Hammerheads’ commitment to innovation for club and player development pays dividends throughout the club. Technology is integral to modern soccer, and Hudl has proven to be an ideal solution for the Hammerheads.

Video is a bridge for coaches and athletes to establish understanding. This objectivity through video on Hudl means coaches cut through any misconceptions or misremembering they may have had in the moment. 

Plus, athletes at this level of soccer — oftentimes with ambitions to play at the next level — crave feedback. The Hammerheads leverage Hudl to deliver clear objectives and measure results match after match.

Hudl’s video review tools include simple clipping tools to select important moments, group them into playlists and share them with players. With just a few clicks of a mouse, coaches provide specific, tailored feedback to every member of their team.

“Having video to clip things makes my job so much easier,” Noviello said.

This approach to player development was central to the ECNL 07s fourth-place finish. Noviello reviewed video and data after each match to tweak their game plan while delivering team and individual feedback that worked.

Overcoming Obstacles

One of the club’s pillars is “Problem-Solver.” This means every person in the club – directors, coaches, athletes — is charged with thinking critically, challenging the status quo, and finding ways to overcome adversity on and off the field.

Wilmington’s ECNL Girls’ Director and club team coach Will Heaney says Hudl’s tools perfectly support the “problem-solver” pillar; video evidence means less talking and more action.

“If you’re a player on the field and there’s a red card, you say ‘Hey, how can we solve that problem?’ Do we organize together or do we lose our minds and start blaming everything else?” he said. “With [video] we can problem-solve quickly and establish some responsibility ourselves.”

Through shared responsibility comes meaningful contributions. Players hold each other accountable and push each other, leading to greater success on the field.

Data-Driven Analysis

Noviello and fellow ECNL Boys’ coach Brian Ackley rely on Hudl Assist for automated game breakdowns. With full team and player stats linked directly to video, both coaches quickly review key facets of the game and pull up clips to review and share.

Hudl Assist is quick, powerful and accurate, giving Noviello and Ackley the firepower to adapt and win.

One aspect Ackley loves about Assist is the passing strings report. This report shows how many passes took place in each third of the pitch, as well as how many passes happened in each possession.

The box score report on Hudl.

Ackley says this report helps him analyze the strengths and weaknesses of his team in possession. When are they most dangerous? Where are they vulnerable by giving away possession? Then he can pinpoint what needs to change or improve and share that information with his team.

Wilmington isn't afraid to implement new tools for the sake of improvement. In fact, they relish the opportunity to be a leader.

As a result, the Hammerheads have proven that innovation pushes you to be at the top of your game. Always ready for the next challenge.

Leading clubs leverage cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of the game. Hudl’s club-wide packages make it easy and affordable to equip every member of your program with the tools to succeed.

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