Sporting Omaha FC Takes Success to the Next Level

For club teams, using video allows you to address simple things with your players and make a big difference in development.

Sporting Omaha FC Takes Success to the Next Level

For club teams, using video allows you to address simple things with your players and make a big difference in development.

For Sporting Omaha FC, one of Nebraska’s most elite club soccer programs, development on and off the pitch starts with one thing — passion. It’s their foundation, a fundamental cornerstone that helps guide them. For coach Neil Hope, it’s what drives the club’s philosophy.

The club resides under the development academy program of Sporting Kansas City, and with that comes a style of play he describes using the same word — passion.

The game has changed tremendously since Hope played in England. “There was a certain style of play that I grew up with, and now it’s more possession style. The game is more technical and tactical. So we’ve evolved as coaches as the game has evolved.”

Hope described the cyclical nature of coaching philosophies as it relates to major tournaments that go on around the globe — specifically the European Championships and the World Cup — noting that it creeps into all levels of the game around the globe. “You look at how teams score goals and how teams lined up. There’s things that creep into what we do as coaches from a technical and tactical side,” Hope said. “This year, you look at countries like Wales, Belgium and Iceland. They had a ton of success and now everyone is looking at how they develop young players. So you’re always learning.”

“We never change based on performance. The players keep working at their craft, and our style of play stays the same. So as they grow technically, success will follow.” Neil Hope

That success has seen 61% of their club’s players go on to play at the Division I level in college. “We’re always keeping our philosophy at the forefront, because it works,” said Hope. “From our middle school kids to our sophomores and juniors. We have the best collective group we’ve ever had. So I’m excited to see where they go.”

The crossover between coaching and video analysis is apparent. It’s all about education, whether it’s with the athletes or with their parents. “You’ve now got a product that you can sit down with your son or daughter and talk about the game,” Hope said. Those conversations help parents and athletes alike become more knowledgeable about the game. More so, it opens up a line of communication between the coaches and the players. “Some players are afraid to talk to some coaches, but by using something else like Hudl, it allows us to open up that conversation,” said Hope.

“For me, I’ll come in and look at a few things after the weekend, like if we didn’t score a lot of goals but we have a ton of shots. I can go in and pull up every shot we had instantaneously,” explains Hope. “We can then go back and show the girls. Then we structure our training around that.”

That’s critical to the team’s time management. Any time you can save with video is essential. “We don’t have to go back and ask them again. They’ve watched the video. So we can jump right in and do drills and work through a couple things. Then we’ll play. Now they have a tactical stimulus with video and a technical side with the training. We’re piecing it all together,” said Hope.  

Hope makes it a point to share everything with his players. It’s all about being constructive, because a young player’s confidence can be easily damaged if you go about it the wrong way.

“We did it in the past with our U14 team, where some players were short on confidence. So we just sat them down to look at the video,” said Hope. “It was just a matter of our two central defenders playing too close to one another on the pitch. So every time they received the ball they were under pressure. With the video, we showed them. Just address a simple thing. If we never would’ve shown them that, they would’ve never known.”

The video goes above and beyond simply boosting confidence for Sporting Omaha FC — it helps address tactical and technical tendencies to find ways to improve every game. With a philosophical style of play from the top down, it’s important to emphasize certain things.

The video doesn’t lie. It’s you showing it,” said Hope. “There are definitely tendencies I look for with the cycle of play — transition, forward passes, forward runs — so it’s a lot of fast paced movements. With our possession and attacking emphasis within the club, we put more of a focus on that in review.”

For the club, success has certainly followed. This past month, the U18 girls advanced out of their regional group stage and made it all the way to the finals for the first time in their history. “If any team is going to beat us, they’re going to have to catch us on a bad day. We want to be technically better and tactically better, so we’re always going to compete,” said Hope.

It’s hard to see anyone stopping them from winning next year.

Follow Sporting Omaha FC on Twitter and Facebook for more information about the club.

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