LA Surf CEO Barry Ritson discusses how the club is embracing these uncertain times as an opportunity to level up coaches.

As the CEO of the Southern California-based LA Surf, one of the West Coast’s premier soccer clubs, Barry Ritson has had to make a number of critical decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his live Q&A hosted by Hudl, coaches around the country listened to Ritson talk about the many discoveries he’s made about his program as they embrace remote work. He also discusses how he keeps all of the club’s teams on the same page using Hudl’s tools, and how the club is keeping players engaged at a time when it’s so easy to tune out.

Tying Hudl to their coaching philosophy

LA Surf teams train in seven-week segments. What they're focusing on in each segment also translates to how they're using Hudl. Coaches will look for improvement in Hudl on the specific focus area. If there is none, it's clear there's a disconnect somewhere between the coach and the player.

Ritson says speed is key in the game review process—“How quickly you can give feedback to your players is critical in how they learn,” he says. To that, he praises how Hudl Assist saves them time and allows them to give feedback to their players as soon as possible, when they need it.

Taking the pandemic time to audit tech

This pandemic has helped LA Surf re-evaluate needs versus nice-to-have’s with technology. Strict guidelines are also in place for their coaches to continue to provide their players and families structure remotely.  That means keeping with regular practice times by doing regular Zoom calls, Hudl classroom sessions and other technical and physical workout sessions. More than 95 percent of their members are still paying their dues because they’re getting a benefit from participating with the club.

Barry sees this pandemic as a time to seek opportunity. He's hoping LA Surf's technology and coaching philosophy will draw more top talent coming out of 2020, as some players might want a change or be forced to find new clubs.

2:40 — How LA Surf uses Hudl at their club

Ritson warns that no technology should ever be a one-size-fits-all for all of your problems. At LA Surf, they’re using Hudl to shed light on their overall philosophy, educate players and coaches, and create checks and balances for their leadership.

7:15 — Getting answers quick with Assist

The quicker you can deliver feedback to players, the better they’ll recall how it pertains to the situation. Ritson talks about how Hudl Assist gets him clear performance indicators that he can use to sharpen his analysis.

9:00 — Assessing “need” versus "want" with technology

Engagement is key to how Ritson decides what he wants to implement. He offers some tips on how to evaluate what’s most resourceful for your club.

12:00 — How they manage their coaching philosophy

Ritson talks about how seven-week segments for training keeps everyone aligned, and how they track it all in Hudl.

14:00 — How LA Surf is working through COVID

Ritson talks about how this pandemic has helped the club revisit the technologies they weren't using as much. That includes embracing Zoom, where they’ll host daily live workouts, weekly technical training sessions, and mix in some fun challenges for their players.

20:30 — Are Zoom calls the new normal?

Once we get back to regularly-scheduled programming, will the heavy emphasis on video conferencing continue to be a normal part of LA Surf’s process? Ritson would love to say it’s here to say. But here’s what he thinks will happen.

26:00 — The pandemic’s long-term effect on the club scene

The programs who can afford to take the financial hit during this time stand to come out of this pandemic in good shape. Ritson thinks top clubs might see a more competitive talent pool to recruit from.

31:50 — The most effective curriculum for Zoom meetings

Ritson has scoured the internet for 7-on-7 footage to show his players. He's found that seeing the playing level of U12's at clubs like Atletico Madrid and Chelsea makes the content more relatable.