Performance Spotlight: Jami Mülders, German Women’s Field Hockey

The coach helped his team embrace the power of video to win bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Performance Spotlight: Jami Mülders, German Women’s Field Hockey

The coach helped his team embrace the power of video to win bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games.

When Jami Mülders took over as the German women’s national field hockey head coach in 2012, he found his new team wasn’t fully utilizing their time and resources for video review. While it was a part of their workflow, the players didn’t fully understand video’s power, and believed it just led to longer meetings.

It didn’t take long for Mülders to change their minds.

Mülders continued incorporating video into the team’s workflow, but he did it without overwhelming the athletes, limiting review session to 20 or 30 minutes.

“They like to debrief in small groups because they like to talk about different things a bit more individually and a bit [longer] so everything is clear,” Mülders said. “What they also enjoy is we set up a database on opponents from different nations, so they can go through the video and get an idea about all the things that could happen in the next game. It makes them more comfortable.”

Mülders found the sweet spot between delivering important information to his athletes without overwhelming them, and Germany was rewarded with a bronze medal at the Rio games in August. Mülders brought on a performance analyst to supply him with video and stats that he could show to the team at halftime.

After games, tailored playlists were created for each position so the players could focus on their spot specifically. These were reviewed in group coaching sessions between the midfielders, the offense and the defense. The players also reviewed video on their own or in small groups outside of team sessions.

The key to being a good analyst, Mülders said, is knowing your role and supplying coaches and players with useful, digestible information.

“They don’t misuse their data to try and be a coach,” Mülders said. “They are always supportive of the coaches. They deliver everything the coaches request and they think always about the process and they offer you some options to improve your process, but they will never do something alone. They always think about the players, and that’s super important.

“I don’t need a third coach. I need someone who understands the game and can read the game, but it’s more important that he’s able to handle the workflow and the setup without any support of me at the end, so it doesn’t cause any extra energy.”

Mülders encouraged any young professional interested in a career in video and analytics to pursue it. He said analysts have an incredibly important role, making every action in the game more impactful for coaches.

“They let the data speak so you can get a different impression of what happens in the game,” he said. “If young people are interested in being a part of the team and having incredible impact without standing in the spotlight, it’s the best job to do in sport. You get a lot of space, and you get to create if you have a coach that lets you create. It could be super powerful.”

Follow Mülders and Deutscher Hockey-Bund on Twitter to learn more about the team and its  journey.

Get in the Hudl   |   Exclusive coaching tips and expert advice straight to your inbox.