The East Coast Eagles play in the Sydney AFL competition which serves as a pathway for players with aspirations of playing State League or AFL level football.

We spoke to Eagles Head Coach Gavin Jones to understand how a central library of video and data is taking analysis at a club level from a time-consuming process to a streamlined experience.

With over 13 years of coaching experience in Australian Rules Football from club level to AFL Academy level, East Coast Eagles and GWS Giants Academy Head Coach (Western Sydney) Gavin Jones understands exactly what the processes of reviewing match footage are and exactly how they have improved.

“The current environment of video capture in the top league of Football in Sydney is that every game is filmed live, with particular games broadcasted on TV,” said Jones. “So that vision is then uploaded by the broadcast provider quarter-by-quarter, to their web platform which individual coaches or users would then have to download each individual quarter before consolidating that vision.”

The Hudl League Exchange allows this fragmented process to become immediately streamlined to every team within the league. The League Exchange provides a central online platform of video from teams across an entire league. This video can be accessed by any team in the league and is transferable to the Hudl Sportscode and Hudl platforms.

“I think the biggest advantage with the League Exchange and why it would be a massive benefit to any league, is that you get this central repository of data and vision,” said Jones. “In terms of developing football at any level, a central reserve of information of vision is key, but when you add data to that as well, it’s just that extra layer which amplifies the benefits.”

This central reserve of vision and data is a huge step up from what has traditionally been available at a local club level.

“At the moment, the vision which is available at a local club level is fractured,” said Jones. “A coach or analyst has to download it from an external source and consolidate it before even getting to the point of reviewing it. They certainly don’t have the video and data that’s easily accessible with history that is available over the course of multiple past seasons.”

East Coast Eagles Head Coach Gavin Jones has brought a professional level of video analysis to club football in Sydney.

Using this range of video and data has allowed the Eagles coaching team to implement more advanced workflows into their weekly analysis.

So how we do our work, is we have the data from Sportscast uploaded to Hudl and then we have a partnership where we work with Toppa as our data provider to take that vision code it using Sportscode and then upload the xml back into Hudl so that we've then got access to that coded vision early in the week,” explained Jones. 

“We then use that vision for multiple reasons, it's education, absolutely, it's review and working with players on their individual development plans for their own development and growth. But also it's an incredibly valuable resource for coaches to understand how we're executing game plans, where our strengths lie, where our weaknesses lie and things we need to improve on. 

And so that data is critical with the data relationships we have as we can pick and choose the KPIs we're looking for within the data we want to capture and we can change that week-by-week.”

“In terms of developing football at any level, a central reserve of information of vision is key, but when you add data to that as well, it’s just that extra layer which amplifies the benefits.” Gavin Jones - Head Coach, East Coast Eagles.

Getting more specific and granular with data analysis is a key aspect of the more advanced workflows that the Eagles are using within their coaching team.

“We’re looking to measure a number of different metrics with our analysis,” said Jones. “Firstly, contested possessions , which means the ability of your team to win contests for the ball. So the outcome of that in this context is quite important to understanding how well we executed the contested aspects of our game against the opposition, understanding who won those contests more often,and why, and over the course of the game. 

Then you have uncontested possession stats, which are the ones that focus on when the ball is not in a contested situation. So when the ball is out, you're in free flowing  live ball, no one's under pressure, no one's being tackled, we then have the ability to control possession and the game. We call that controlling the ball on the outside. So the contested possession, measuring how we are performing on the inside where it's congested and contested and  uncontested possessions, which measure how we are going on the outside. 

Some other key stats are inside 50s- at the end of the day it’s pretty hard to win if you don't score, and the more often you can go in, and stay in, your forward half, the more chances you have of scoring. So measuring how many times we took the ball inside forward 50 compared to our opposition is a critical piece of information. 

Player feedback to Eagles players in relation to contested possession.

Another of our key measures are clearances. In AFL we have a thing called stoppages, which is where the umpire takes control and resets the play with a ball up, or a throw-in if the ball has gone over the boundary or a center bounce if it's after a goal. Now, when that ball gets thrown up in the air by the umpire, ultimately one team or the other is going to win it and go forward with it or you may have a repeat stoppage which we call halving the contest. If a team wins the ball and moves it from the stoppage that's called a clearance. So when we go to stoppage, it’s understanding if we are winning or losing those contestsIt gives you a really good insight into understanding whether your team is getting first use of the football or if the opposition is. 

There's how many times we've laid effective tackles compared to the opposition, which gives you an indication about who’s got the ball more often or who is applying more pressure, then there’s rebound 50s, which is how often the opposition goes inside your forward 50, but you actually rebound the ball out without having a score against you. 

Probably one stat which we have used more often is scores from turnover. Scores from turnover and scores from stoppage are two that we look at quite closely. So it's looking at how often the scores generated by the opposition are as a result of our turning the ball over as opposed to them having had control of the ball and using that control to score.”

Hudl Sportscode platform showing what is coded in AFL analysis at the Eagles.

The League Exchange platform would save so much time for the Eagles coaching team. But the value isn’t just in time saving, it’s in how they could use that extra time.

“The main time saver for us of a League Exchange would be not having to take the role of a vision and data compiler as we would have access to other teams' games all in one area,” said Jones. “Our old process was to duplicate the steps for vision in every match, meaning we would have to watch footage from four or five different games just to get the core vision of highlights we wanted before even thinking about reviewing or editing. Now we have the vision for every one of our games available in one place just a click or a touch away, ready for download and review. If this was expanded to be league-wide it would be an enormous assets to the development of football across Sydney”

The extra time that we would have on the back of the League Exchange would allow us to spend more time on individual development where we can actually spend more time with the individual player rather than spending time cutting up footage. 

If you spend 12 hours cutting up footage and sending it out to each player, you don't then really have time to then follow that up and spend valuable time with an individual to help them develop as a footballer. Using the League Exchange would enable the fast tracking and development of your player group.”

"Now we have the vision for every one of our games available in one place just a click or a touch away, ready for download and review. If this was expanded to be league-wide it would be an enormous assets to the development of football across Sydney”. Gavin Jones - Head Coach, East Coast Eagles.

Diving deeper into player development, we learn more about how video and data optimizes individual player review and overall player improvement within the Eagles team. 

“The combination of the Hudl platform and data is vital to our individual player reviews,” said Jones. “We use a screen share of Hudl where we will click into that player's name which then allows us to watch each involvement that player has had in the game. Then we'll use the tools that are within Hudl where we pause the live vision  and draw lines to demonstrate to them where they might have been better able to move from a positioning point of view, or an action they could have taken that would have led to a better outcome.”

With an eye on the future, the Eagles are looking to their young crop of players to continue to improve and drive the club forward into a new period of success.

“We’ve got an incredibly young group and we're rebuilding getting these 19 and 20-year-olds to stick together and be there for the next few years,” said Jones. “And that's the thing, if you provide a really well resourced football program that includes tools like Hudl, match data and individual development, what you'll find is these guys stick around because they're enjoying not only the environment that they're in, but they're enjoying the resources that are around them, allowing them to fast track their development. 

I fundamentally believe that if we keep the core group together in the next two or three years and have the tools around them to allow them to perform at their best, we’ll be back in a premiership window before too long.”

Click here to learn more about Hudl's League Exchange and Hudl Sportscode solutions.