New York Soccer Club and the Development of Youth Soccer

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Coach of the Year Christian Gonzalez talks player development and implementation of video analysis at the club level. 

New York Soccer Club and the Development of Youth Soccer

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Coach of the Year Christian Gonzalez talks player development and implementation of video analysis at the club level. 

New York Soccer Club is in its relative infancy, but that hasn’t stopped its leaders from looking at ways to innovate.

Seven years ago, local club head coach and former professional player Christian Gonzalez was approached by founder Mark Heffernan about joining. “After my career was done, I decided that, you know, I really loved the game and that I wanted to continue being a part of the game. I thought the best way to do that was in teaching, and teaching kids how to play.

“Ever since then it’s been a lifelong journey in becoming the best possible coach that I can be.”

Gonzalez, currently the Director of Coaching at New York Soccer Club, has seen the club grow into a perennial power - the club’s U17 team recently became the first team to ever repeat as national champions at any level. At the core of their success is their belief in the club’s philosophy. “They’ve really bought into being able to move the ball really quick. They know our style of play inside and out. They know our NYSC principles of play like the back of their hand, and that’s really contributed to the success of that particular team,” said Gonzalez.

But it’s the success of the club as a whole that stands out. They have been able to produce no less than 18 youth national team call-ups, and that’s truly a testament to the work they put in on the field day in and day out. “[The club’s founders] put a huge emphasis on playing style. They saw the game as a passing and receiving game. To do that, we needed to come up with a curriculum that was easy to implement, and a practice structure that was easy to follow for our coaches. Through technology, which we’ve always embraced, we’ve been able to unify our ability to deliver consistent curriculum,” said Gonzalez.

Instead of investing hours to go and watch a game, we can sit there and watch many more games from our office.” Christian Gonzalez

The club uses tools like insidesoccer.com as a club management platform to create lesson plans. It allows the team to set a better standard of club practices for each coach to follow. This European style of education - with unified tactics and training at every age level - is growing in the States. “The founders of the club really believed in it,” added Gonzalez.

“It’s massive. There’s only one way to do it, and that’s our coaches buying into our philosophy and implementing it from the time the players enter the club to the time they leave.”

All teams play the same way - a 4-3-3 formation, with two attacking midfielders, one holding mid, a flat-back four, a seven, nine, and 11 - and they do it consistently. The coaches implement what the club wants from them, and their players develop step-by-step as they move up age groups. “It’s impressive to see,” said Gonzalez.

The club quickly realized that video analysis could add depth to their methodology from top to bottom. “You know, before Hudl, it was kind of ad hoc. Coaches would video tape games and coaches would watch it. We’d kind of clip it, but with the advent of Hudl, it made things so much easier for us - post games, share them with our players, make notes - and it’s less time-consuming than the way we were doing it. And, we can do it more often for our players and teams. We felt that was a great addition to our development model,” said Gonzalez.

As early as last season, New York Soccer Club fully implemented Hudl and asked all of their coaches to coordinate filming games. It’s been massive for the club and its leaders. “It was a great way to see what the level was looking like amongst teams. Instead of investing hours to go and watch a game, we can sit there and watch many more games from our office. So that was another great way we implemented it - actually getting to watch as many games as possible,” added Gonzalez.

If you’re a serious professional and you want to improve your team, you have to know exactly what’s going on in each game. Just viewing it live, you’ll never catch everything.” Christian Gonzalez

As a member of the United States Development Academy system, the club uses Hudl’s league exchange tools to share video with the DA, allowing them to scout players and assess top talent. “They can log in and look at a particular game and scout the player that way, versus traveling to like New Hampshire to watch this game live or else [they] won’t get to see that player,” added Gonzalez. “It’s a great way for the Development Academy to adopt Hudl and use it in these different ways. Obviously, the most basic is for game analysis for your own team - which helps with development.”

New York Soccer Club has been on board since the spring, using Hudl to not only watch every team at the club’s matches, but to stimulate player growth and development. “Most players have really not seen themselves play, and they have a hard time taking in certain coaching points,” said Gonzalez.

“Let’s say a player is over-dribbling. You tell them that and they watch the video, it’s clear as day. So that’s how we view video - as a huge benefit in the development process - and for our players to clean up those decision-making actions. It’s a huge benefit in that way.”

Gonzalez believes that video analysis not only helps stimulate development, but can help younger athletes develop quicker. “Like I said, this is the most clear example that we get at our club, we ask our players to play quick for the most part. In the defensive middle-third, we ask them to play at a rhythm where [the ball] is received and passed, versus receding and taking four or five touches and getting caught with the ball,” added Gonzalez. “ So those players, a lot of the time, once you tell them on the field that they are taking too many touches, they don’t see it. Sometimes it’s for certain reasons, maybe their vision isn’t that great or their first touch isn’t there so they take a few extra touches.

“Once they see it on video, it just speeds up that development process. That’s how we see it improving their development.”

Gonzalez is a firm believer in the impact that Hudl can have with every club. From top to bottom, the benefits of video analysis are clear. “[Hudl] is really the only way to get a detailed look at what’s going on. If you’re a serious professional and you want to improve your team, you have to know exactly what’s going on in each game. Just viewing it live, you’ll never catch everything.

“It takes some work, there’s no doubt about that, but if you’re a serious professional and you want to be the best possible coach and improve your team, this is what you need.”

If you’re interested in using Hudl with your club or team, let us know at sales @hudl.com, or sign up for a free trial today.

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