Scout, Develop, Improve: How Hudl Ties into GB Hockey's Olympic Campaign

Throughout a successful Olympic qualification campaign for both men’s and women’s teams, GB Hockey have used video analysis as a key part in the scouting, development and improving the performance of players. Here’s how Hudl is helping them in their push towards Tokyo 2020.

The first area where analysis is vital to the progression of GB Hockey is the scouting of players which is executed through a talent identification system ranging from 13-year-olds all the way through to experienced athletes being monitored during their playing careers. Performance director Ed Barney explains this important system and how video analysis ties in. 

“Talent identification is a critical part of our programme and our work here, it’s all the way through from the work we do with young athletes through to then still some of the talent identification that we are doing in and around the senior programmes,” said Barney. 

“The Hudl platform provides us with an absolutely fantastic opportunity to improve both our talent identification and talent confirmation processes. Particularly around our athletes that are within our programme and are playing domestically, it allows us to keep tabs on them and see them in match environments.” 

The Hudl League Exchange is a key tool in the observation of talent, as it provides a database of footage for all domestic hockey matches in England that Barney and his team need for viewing players of interest. 

“The League Exchange is a great mechanism for us to get an insight and oversight from the environment of the players who we are interested in,” said Barney. “We have a number of players who are part of our senior programme and in a talent identification sense, it gives us the opportunity to observe and look at how they are performing in a non-international environment, but ultimately a fundamental and critical environment.”

It’s not just the players in the GB Hockey programme that benefit from the League Exchange. High-performing talent from the domestic game that aren’t currently in the system can be scouted through the bank of game footage that exists online.

“There are also a range of other players who are highlighted on a longlist, but perhaps are outside of our programme, and the League Exchange provides us with the ability to log onto any fixture, any game, and look at their performances on a week-to-week basis in the domestic environment,” explains Barney.

As a team sport GB Hockey have specific talent identification processes to make sure they identify and recruit the highest potential players. Barney outlines how video analysis fits into this key process.

“The Hudl platform provides us with an absolutely fantastic opportunity to improve both our talent identification and talent confirmation processes"

“What’s most relevant to us in a team sports basis is the concept of ‘super strengths’,” explains Barney. “This could be from a mental, physical, technical or tactical perspective. The ability to see super strengths, the things that put them outside of the boundaries of the other players, is something that the Hudl platform provides our coaches and talent identification staff with.

Barney goes on to outline an example given of a player with 'super strengths' - Women’s player Lily Owsley. 

“In the women’s program, she is a player that is outstanding in a number of different areas, but her physiological capabilities and speed on the pitch is something from a talent identification sense that sets her apart from almost all other international players,” said Barney. “The opportunity for us to discover that through video is extremely crucial to us. Another example would be using video to find a player who can read the game consistently well and make strong decisions both on and off the ball. We can derive this level of analysis from Hudl.”

For senior performance analyst Ander Rodoreda, Hudl and Sportscode are vital to his role in providing top-quality tactical insights for players and coaching staff. 

“As an analyst, my main responsibility is scouting and gathering footage,” said Rodoreda. “In hockey the set piece, mainly the penalty corner, is one of the most important aspects of the game. In preparation for matches, we use Hudl and Sportscode to gather all of the footage of the opposition team and create databases that the players and coaches can go back to and target certain set piece instances.”

Rodoreda goes on to provide an example from the recent Olympic qualifying success against Malaysia.

“My workflow for the Malaysia games was to code all of the games that Malaysia has played this year and extract data for set plays and general plays that powered our analytics that we used for planning for the games,” explained Rodoreda. “We could use this data to plan our tactics, and the preparation obviously paid off as we won the series 9-3 on aggregate. Analysis is absolutely essential as the coding through Sportscode gives coaches the quick signpost they need, the crucial moments of the game, and then they can quickly build up an image and idea of how the opposition play.

For video analysis to work at its best, there needs to be buy-in from coaches and players to what the analyst provides. This is a key strength of GB Hockey’s analysis programme.

“The coach buy-in is incredible, they are big users of Sportscode themselves, they will put together presentations to show to the players and each other,” said Rodoreda. “It runs the meetings, it runs the previews, and we will take four laptops to the games on weekends on which the athletes will be watching footage themselves on Hudl and Sportscode."

"Analysis is absolutely essential as the coding through Sportscode gives the coaches the quick signpost they need, the crucial moments of the game, and then they can quickly build up an image and idea of how the opposition play"

In conclusion, it is obvious from the performance director’s view that GB Hockey have huge aspirations for their senior international programs and performance programs.

“Every day, week on week, month on month we are striving to deliver better and better results,” said Barney. “Most specifically, as a governing body, we are pushing to be in a position where we are consistently delivering medal winning performances event on event, year on year. That’s currently what we are striving for - to put the best possible people into our program with the best possible resources around them to maximise the opportunities our players have on the pitch and the value we can add for them day to day.”