Katie Quinlan Interview: Analysis and Innovation in Women’s Football

Katie Quinlan Interview: Analysis and Innovation in Women’s Football

In part two of this series, learn how Katie’s Blackburn Rovers Ladies team use analy­sis to com­pete in the FA Women’s Championship, while also show­ing how she uses analy­sis to guide inno­va­tion in the women’s game and coach in remote learning situations. 

The Blackburn Rovers Ladies team finished a very credible mid table position in their debut 2019 – 20 FA Women’s Championship season, playing against several teams with Premier League affiliation with much higher budgets, this means Quinlan and her team find huge importance in utilizing all tools to their advantage to gain success.

Three of the teams that finished above us are pro­fes­sion­al and the budgets vary massively between each team, so we’re constantly having to be very resourceful with what we have on hand,” said Quinlan. That’s how we came about using Hudl and video analysis on a whole. We had to move quickly from spending hours searching for footage on youtube, screen recording, clipping, cropping, annotating clips if we were to compete with pro­fes­sion­al teams. We had to develop a more efficient workflow and resource the best tools available. 

Katie Quinlan in her role as technical director of Blackburn Rovers Ladies Regional Talent Club.

Having utilized advanced video analysis tools while working for the FA as an Elite Coach Mentee, Quinlan is no stranger to new and innovative ways for coaches to deliver their instruc­tions, especially as the modern game in which the level of skill and speed of gameplay is developing year-on-year.

I think the under­stand­ing of the game has changed drastically for myself just using analysis, not only for me but also the staff as well,” said Quinlan. We have an online library for each of our principles of play, an example of which would be playing forward quickly and securely’, which gives us real clarity around how we approach specific moments of the game and how we can distinguish what we want from each of those moments. Video analysis gives you the chance to slow the game down and break it up because the game is getting quicker and quicker.

You see now on television the use of analysis software programs used by the pundits, where they do a much deeper breakdown of the game than in the past and in the same way we as coaches can understand details a lot more with video. Now we don’t just look at the big picture, we have to be able to zoom in and out to find the details. And even off pitch factors — physically, socially, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, we must evaluate how these factors contribute to performance on the pitch.”

Hudl dashboard for the Blackburn Ladies', where they can access a library of video clips with detailed individual and team feedback.

During her time working with The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), Quinlan’s colleagues on FA coach education courses sub­se­quent­ly asked her to support an analysis project during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which showed the increasing value of analysis tools at inter­na­tion­al level. 

I used telestra­tion, the kind which you can see Mourinho using in the Amazon documentary, All or Nothing, to provide coach education content for academy scholars,” said Quinlan. The project identified International trends of which I got to highlight particular movements and cor­re­la­tions, creating databases that best illustrated these observations.”

An example of telestration, from Katie's drawings on a World Cup 2018 match.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about unique challenges for the teams Quinlan manages. With online analysis platforms being key tools to keep players engaged in remote learning situations.

In the first lockdown things changed drastically for us, and using video online helped open up com­mu­ni­ca­tion between staff and players,” said Quinlan. We can remotely access our footage at any hour via Hudl, send feedback messages out to players, and software like Wyscout is now present in the top two tiers of women’s football which has helped us massively to understand the statistics behind our per­for­mances. The pandemic has been a tough situation, but you have to be clever with your time and resources and look at all options you can use to con­sis­tent­ly get better.”

When asked about her goals for the future, Quinlan simply said: I just want to get better, I want to learn more about the demands of the game and see progress with my players. If the right pathways are there then we can get to a level where we are competing at the top level as well. Ultimately, I want to bring success to the teams I work with and be in a position where I can leave a legacy there.”

Learn more about how Hudl is powering modern football analysis by clicking here

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