Video Analysis Fires Townsville to Championship Success 

Three WNBL cham­pi­onships in the past four years is a real suc­cess sto­ry — learn how video analy­sis helped the Australian Townsville Fire get there.

The man behind the lap­top at Fire HQ is tech­ni­cal coach Paul Foster. He and his lap­top play an incred­i­bly impor­tant role in help­ing the play­ers and coach­es improve. 

I sup­port the head coach­es and assis­tant coach­es with scout­ing of the oppo­si­tion by man­ag­ing the video edit­ing, and deliv­er­ing it in a way where they can effec­tive­ly view it,” said Foster. I’ll also do some sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis for the team, and then I’ll give them a pre­lim­i­nary for­ward scout of the opposition.”

Specific metrics for opposition scouting

The spe­cif­ic met­rics pro­duced by Sportscode allow the Fire staff to car­ry out the most valu­able analysis.

This year we set up data­bas­es with footage from the sea­son before, so that I could go in and see which coach usu­al­ly runs the same sort of offen­sive sets,” said Foster. You can go in and see for exam­ple, which type of set plays they had run for their last three games and then the dif­fer­ent kinds of sets that were being called.”

Then comes indi­vid­ual play­er scout­ing. This allows the Fire to be even bet­ter pre­pared for spe­cif­ic match-ups.

So when I go to two par­tic­u­lar play­ers, I try to label the play­ers into the offen­sive instance in Sportscode, and then that would then give me more sta­tis­ti­cal basis to be able to have a good look at a play­er,” said Foster. For exam­ple, how many times are they in a two-point make with a play­er, or the play­er might always be in the on-ball screen sit­u­a­tion before they score.”


For Fire head coach Claudia Brassard, the visu­als are impor­tant. The best way for the team to know where their on-court deci­sion mak­ing could be improved is to show them exact­ly what happened.

An effec­tive field goal is a real­ly big one we look at,” said Brassard. Some shots are worth more than oth­ers to us, for exam­ple tak­ing a two-point, mid-range jump shot at the wrong point in the shot clock is a low per­cent­age play, and that’s not our style. We show the play­ers we don’t want that shot at that time and can back that up with footage.” 

And they don’t only look at the offense — defen­sive analy­sis is includ­ed too. The Fire use video review to improve play on both sides of the ball.

A big focus of ours is to try to gen­er­ate more pos­ses­sions for us, or lim­it pos­ses­sions from the oth­er team, both offen­sive­ly and defen­sive­ly,” said Brassard. So we look at where and when we’re com­mit­ting our fouls, and how we can be more dis­ci­plined and smarter with that.”

The coaching workflow 

A usu­al week for Coach Foster involves com­plet­ing a live code and analy­sis of the Fire’s last match in Sportscode, as well as pro­duc­ing an oppo­si­tion scout for upcom­ing games. With games com­ing thick and fast, Hudl Assist allows for analy­sis to be com­plet­ed quickly.

I’m always try­ing to get every­thing done for the last three games for that team that we just faced, or that we’re fac­ing next week­end,” said Foster. So using the XML files from Hudl Assist is a god­send because I am able to break down these games faster and get that infor­ma­tion to the coach­es by Wednesday, so that by Thursday they can com­plete the scout of the opposition.”

Video helps the Fire to Championship glory

Their analy­sis direct­ly impact­ed key results for the team in the 201718 WNBL finals series, which end­ed in vic­to­ry for the Fire.

After doing a Hudl lev­el-two course and attend­ing a con­fer­ence in Sydney, I came back and I changed all our code win­dows and made a lot of things eas­i­er for me and the team, as well as get­ting oth­er teams data­based,” said Foster. Then when we got to the grand final against Melbourne, we had a lot of stuff data­based in the bank that we could go back to through­out the sea­son. So the three games that we played them we used both Sportscode and Hudl to get the sta­tis­ti­cal data to see what line-ups worked for us against Melbourne, and who our plus and minus line­ups were on the court.

The abil­i­ty to pro­duce quick scout­ing reports using video became cru­cial to the Fire’s Grand Final run as Coach Foster trav­elled down to Melbourne for game one of the series and cod­ed the game live in order to have the scout­ing report ready for the team for game two.

On the turn­around to come back home after game one, I already had that game cut up so that we could analyse it and know what we need to do to hope­ful­ly win the cham­pi­onship in the next game,” said Foster. It end­ed up being a piv­otal moment as we won the cham­pi­onship. Hudl and Sportscode were key to us achiev­ing our goals.”

Working on a budget in the women’s game

While there have been sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in recent years, fund­ing con­tin­ues to be restric­tive in women’s sport through­out Australia. With bud­gets gen­er­al­ly being much low­er than their male coun­ter­parts, mon­e­tary invest­ments must be deemed absolute­ly nec­es­sary in order to be approved. Coach Foster has long been a pro­po­nent of Hudl’s video analy­sis tools and he was able to con­vince the Fire’s hier­ar­chy that an invest­ment in video analy­sis was an invest­ment in the devel­op­ment of their coach­es and players. 

The biggest thing is we have a direc­tor now with the Fire who is very tech­ni­cal and sta­tis­ti­cal­ly focused,” said Foster. Video analy­sis is actu­al­ly seen as a cost effec­tive solu­tion and they can see the ben­e­fits. I remem­ber when we won the cham­pi­onship, I had the coach­es and assis­tant coach­es com­ing up to me say­ing you saved us hours of time and you helped us out immense­ly, as before­hand we were behind a screen for hours working. 

So ulti­mate­ly I think it is a cost-effec­tive solu­tion because it helps in sev­er­al areas, includ­ing your per­for­mance on the court. Your ath­letes under­stand what they need to do. It also gives the ath­letes the feed­back they need to improve their game. It’s also a bonus for your team to have an ana­lyst or some­one like myself doing that job.”

Coach Brassard needs video to coach effec­tive­ly because it frees up resources.

Before Hudl and Coach Foster, game analy­sis was an assis­tant coach’s job. But now our assis­tants have more time to spend our play­ers,” said Brassard. It’s all about us being bet­ter and more efficient.”

What’s next?

We cer­tain­ly want to win anoth­er cham­pi­onship,” said Brassard. We’re always chas­ing suc­cess. Video is now proven with­in our team that it’s a big part of our suc­cess and we def­i­nite­ly val­ue that. It’s about being the best and get­ting the best out of play­ers and mak­ing sure that we do that in a vari­ety of ways. The video tools we have now allow us to do this.”

To learn more about how Hudl is pow­er­ing the mod­ern game, check out Hudl, The Newsletter or take a look at our pro­fes­sion­al case stud­ies from the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets