Syd­ney FC: Video Vital to the Blue­print of Acad­e­my Success

The acad­e­my of Syd­ney FC con­tin­ues to pro­duce tal­ent that’s helped the side to a joint-record three A-League cham­pi­onships over its his­to­ry. Learn how video analy­sis is vital to the process of sourc­ing and devel­op­ing Sydney’s future stars.

Syd­ney FC’s acad­e­my is renowned across the league as one of only three Two Star” foot­ball acad­e­mies in Aus­tralia, a title that rep­re­sents the best prac­tices in youth development.

Their pri­or­i­ties are feed­back, indi­vid­ual respon­si­bil­i­ty and growth mind­set, all of which are under­pinned by Sydney’s empha­sis on video analy­sis in youth development.

Acad­e­my grad­u­ates include recent Soc­ceroo caps Rhyan Grant and Matthew Jur­man, and Syd­ney FC head of foot­ball analy­sis Justin McMa­hon, who can speak to the pos­i­tive effect of video analy­sis on today’s emerg­ing talent.

As video becomes more and more read­i­ly avail­able to all ages and lev­els, we’re see­ing ath­letes devel­op who have a real pro­nounced inter­est in see­ing video of them­selves, see­ing their lev­el of per­for­mance, and get­ting advice as well,” said McMahon. 

Being in a world now where it’s very easy to pro­vide instan­ta­neous feed­back, video allows play­ers to know where their per­for­mance is at, and where they can improve, in ways they nev­er could have previously.” 

PART TWO: How Syd­ney FC bring video, data and com­mu­ni­ca­tions togeth­er into a sin­gle plat­form, here.

In the past, ana­lysts would strug­gle to pro­vide feed­back and data to the acad­e­my in addi­tion to their first team work­load. But improved tech­nol­o­gy means there’s access to analy­sis at every lev­el of Syd­ney FC.

As a full-time foot­ball staff, most of our focus is on the first team, but we have seen over the past cou­ple of years that the tech­nol­o­gy has got­ten bet­ter on Hudl plat­forms, and the work­flows are real­ly effi­cient in terms of being able to pro­duce con­tent for the play­ers with­in our sys­tem that we don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have day-to-day access to,” said McMahon.

It’s very effi­cient for play­ers to be able to view things that we have put togeth­er, which means that despite the fact we are full-time with the first team, we’re still able to pro­duce con­tent for our under 13’s and under 14’s and so on.”

A recent ben­e­fi­cia­ry of the Syd­ney acad­e­my is 20-year-old Cameron Devlin. The mid­field­er made his senior debut in 2018 and cred­its video analy­sis as cru­cial to his grad­u­a­tion to the first team.

We use video analy­sis at this club every sin­gle day,” said Devlin. As a team, the coach­ing and analy­sis staff use Hudl to cut clips of oppo­si­tion and cut clips of our­selves, just to improve lit­tle parts of our game that end up being the cut­ting point between win­ning a game and los­ing a game.

A big part of your game is what you do on the pitch, but as soon as you get off the pitch, look­ing to improve is a big thing.”

Man­ag­er Steve Cor­i­ca has seen how video analy­sis has changed the game in recent years.

As a foun­da­tion play­er from Syd­ney FC’s inau­gur­al sea­son in 2005, Cor­i­ca made more than 100 appear­ances for Syd­ney, and is well placed to make the com­par­i­son between then and now. 

Video analy­sis has impact­ed the game in a big way, espe­cial­ly from when I was a play­er, when we used to just watch full length games and you couldn’t get down to the nit­ty-grit­ty of the tac­ti­cal side of things,” said Corica. 

These days you have every action on Hudl.”

Hav­ing seen suc­cess as a mul­ti­ple Grand Final win­ner with Syd­ney FC, Cor­i­ca gives his guid­ance on the val­ue of video analy­sis for any club that wants to devel­op young play­ers and be suc­cess­ful at the same time.

Advice I would give to play­ers, coach­es and direc­tors, would be that video is a vital part of the game going for­ward, espe­cial­ly at a young age, where play­ers can learn an awful lot from see­ing their indi­vid­ual actions with or with­out the ball,” said Corica.

Clubs these days are try­ing to improve each sea­son by bring­ing in bring­ing in bet­ter play­ers. We want to devel­op our bet­ter play­ers from the academy.”

As gen­er­al man­ag­er of foot­ball oper­a­tions, Ter­ry McFly­nn is involved in the inner work­ings of the club. He believes video is impor­tant in a com­mer­cial sense, too.

The A-League oper­ates with a salary cap and con­ces­sions for home­grown play­ers, mean­ing it’s extreme­ly valu­able to pro­duce acad­e­my grad­u­ates who are first team ready.

It’s real­ly impor­tant for us to cre­ate our own path­way and our own future at Syd­ney FC,” said McFlynn. 

The acad­e­my is an inte­gral part of our busi­ness. With the salary cap you have to cre­ate your own play­ers and cre­ate your own future.” 

Before devel­op­ing young play­ers, first they need to be iden­ti­fied. McFly­nn goes on to explain how Hudl helps this process.

For us, the abil­i­ty to use video footage for devel­op­ment and tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion is very impor­tant. It’s some­thing we can use as a bank of knowl­edge for which we can iden­ti­fy the play­ers with the key com­pe­ten­cies that we look for in each spe­cif­ic posi­tion,” said McFlynn.

We use video analy­sis to devel­op and recog­nise young play­ers day-to-day at the club. It’s a very impor­tant tool in the ini­tial phase of bring­ing a play­er to the club. We can use this as a devel­op­ment strat­e­gy mov­ing for­ward while the play­ers are here.”

McFly­nn and his man­age­ment team use Hudl to view footage from leagues around the world and are quick to out­line its role in devel­op­ing youth skill lev­els as a wider com­mer­cial objec­tive for the club.

For us, the abil­i­ty for us to look at leagues across the world is so impor­tant for the devel­op­ment of our young play­ers in the acad­e­my,” said McFlynn. 

That’s where our play­ers will even­tu­al­ly want to end up, and as a busi­ness for us as a foot­ball club, the abil­i­ty to mon­e­tize our tal­ent is some­thing that is very impor­tant to us. 

The faster we can accel­er­ate that process, we feel it’s an impor­tant part of the devel­op­ment being able to bench­mark our­selves across some of the best youth acad­e­mies in the world.”

To learn more about Hudl, take a look at our case stud­ies from the 2017 AFL Pre­miers Rich­mond Tigers and Ligue 1 foot­ball team Amiens SC.

Part two of our Syd­ney FC series is here.