Field Hockey Analysis at HGC

By Duncan Ritchie

25-March-2024 on Users

20 minute read

Today, we’ve got something very special lined up for you. 


Not only are we going to tell you about how video analysis is used at one of Europe's grand old field hockey clubs - Holland’s H.O.C. Gazellen-Combinatie (HGC) - but we’ve got a two time Olympic gold medal winner, and HGC’s former Head Coach, to tell you all about it.


So, without further ado, let us introduce you to Bram Lomans…


Meet Bram Lomans


© Photo published courtesy of HGC



When it comes to men’s field hockey, Bram has done it all, both in the Dutch domestic league and internationally.


As a player, Bram joined HGC when he was 19 years old, winning every domestic and international club competition going.


But it’s probably his international career that Bram will be most remembered for. He was part of the Dutch squad that brought home the gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and he repeated the feat four years later at the Sydney games.


And if that wasn’t enough, Bram also held the winner’s trophy aloft at the 1998 Field Hockey World Cup in Utrecht.


In total, Bram has been capped 201 times for the Dutch squad, scoring 140 goals throughout his international career. He is also considered to be a penalty corner expert and one of the pioneers of the drag flick.


So, yeah, Bram knows what he’s talking about.


Bram worked at HGC last season as the head coach of the men’s team and, although he is currently seeking new opportunities, he is still pioneering with his use of video analysis and, in particular, Nacsport - which is what we are going to talk to him about today. 


HGC also continue to utilise Nacsport as their video analysis tool of choice and, next season, will extend it’s use in the women and juniors teams.


So, let’s get started, shall we? Here’s Bram…




What’s Your History with Video Analysis?





My first experience of video analysis happened back in the early 90s when I was a player of 17 years old. 


At this time, the rules for penalty corners changed and, because of this, I started working on the drag flick technique with my coach at the time. We had to stop the ball outside of the circle and it just changed how we approached penalty corners in general.


So, while we were working on this, there was an old guy who videotaped us. And we’re talking real old school technology here - he was using a huge VHS, or maybe even Betamax, camera.


Basically, I’d give him a thumbs up when I thought it was a good penalty corner and a thumbs down when it was bad, and he would take a note of the video time so we could rewatch them later. This was a very labour intensive process.


Later, when I joined the national team, we worked with the eminent coach Roberto Tolentino, and the video analysis technique was similar. We noted down the times in the game where something of note happened and then fast forwarded or rewound through the tape to find the relevant moment.

So, yeah, I’ve lived through the whole evolution of video analysis as a discipline and, of course, last season, at HGC, I worked with Nacsport.




Tell Us How You Used Nacsport at HGC





To be honest, I’m not the most technical person, so it has taken me a while to get used to using the software. Luckily, I’ve had great support from the Nacsport team, especially Carlo and Jan Willem at CaJa Sport Software, who have been very patient and understanding with all my questions.


But I use the software almost daily now, and I am getting used to using it and starting to see all the possibilities that it brings to the table.


The way we used the software at HGC may be considered quite basic, but it let me do exactly what I wanted to do and it gave me video and data that I could use and that my players could use.


When I was the head coach at the club, I also had a video operator that worked alongside me, as well as another coach who tagged games live using Nacsport Tag&view on the iPad.

Obviously, this was in addition to all the post-game analysis that we did.




What Were Your Live Analysis Processes?



nacsport field hockey tagging window and dashboard

Download this FREE Nacsport tagging window and dashboard here



In Holland, all the teams have an agreement for sharing video footage and a basic set of live tags. This is the responsibility of the home team, and we had to get our videos and data uploaded to the shared platform before 12PM the following day.


So, when we were playing at home, one of our coaches was on the sideline with Tag&view and a simplified tagging window in order to collect this data, which included ball starts, penalty corners and goals.


At the same time, our video operator in the tower was equipped with another iPad which, basically, only had a couple of buttons. He used this to collect data and video, mostly on goals and penalty corners, which I could then watch back on the bench and see the progress of the game.

Previously, we used Nacsport connected to a local network in order to send these clips from the tower to the bench via the Nacsport web server, but last season we updated this system and used Nacsport Hub for our live analysis needs instead. This was a much simpler process. Clips were uploaded to the Hub platform live where we could review them quickly and easily through a 4G or 5G connection.



What Other Aspects of the Game Did You Analyse?


I tended to keep things as simple as possible. I know that we had the capability of getting deep into the data but, unfortunately, neither myself nor the players had enough time to do this.


So, when it came to creating presentations for the players, I gave them the fundamental parts of the game to review.


This included the goals, the chances we had, ball starts and build ups and how we pressed.

The full game was uploaded to the Hub platform and players could access it when they wanted and, obviously, check these essential parameters.





How Did You Use Nacsport Hub?



bram using nacsport hub



Through the week, I uploaded a quick analysis of our next opponents for the players to watch at their leisure.


This encouraged the players to start conversations about certain moments in these games, their own performance and tactics for upcoming matches. 


They watched the clips with a critical eye saying things like “in this situation, why did you go left? Maybe next time you should approach it differently”, etc.


I encouraged these interactions as much as possible because it meant that we could save time when we were together and everyone was on the same page.

The players enjoyed using the Hub Team Channel where they could share video clips and have conversations about these, just like they would on social media channels.




When Did You Conduct Video Sessions with the Team?



hgc mens hockey team

© Photo published courtesy of HGC



Every Thursday, we had a training session, and it was here that I did a video presentation for the next match, showing various aspects of our opponent’s game. In these presentations, we concentrated on the same parameters that I mentioned before - goals, penalty corners, build ups, pressing, etc.


We also concentrated on the other team’s attack, which our goalkeeper was involved in heavily, and long corners and free hits around the circle, looking at the movement of the opposition in these situations.


Another situation we concentrated on was how the opposition and our own team reacted when playing with a man up or man down. There were some set plays that we could utilise in these situations that could really give us an advantage in the game.


The players differed in their enthusiasm for these sessions. Some were really eager to view all the plays that I uploaded to Hub on a Monday or Tuesday, and some really didn’t care for it at all. I was fine with that, as long as they performed during the game on Sunday. But I always encouraged them to have conversations surrounding these games.

The presentations on Thursday were not optional. This was where we developed our game plan for the week and I wanted the players to concentrate on the tactical side of the game, although the team always challenged me to keep it short and to the point!




In What Other Ways Did You Use Nacsport at the Club?



overhead image of field hockey pitch



All of our junior teams had access to the software too and used it to analyse their games.


Every Thursday, I sat down with the coaches of these teams and we concentrated on one topic, be that game prep, zonal presses, man-to-man marking, build ups, etc. We went through the first team’s videos and I showed them how we do it and encouraged them to do the same processes in the junior teams.


This meant that there was consistency if younger players grew into the first team and there was a fixed strategy throughout the club in general.

We didn’t use video analysis during training sessions, although this is something I had thought about and may implement in the future because it could be very instructive for certain exercises.




What Were the Main Tools and Features of Nacsport that You Used?





I’m quite a noob when it comes to using this type of technology, so the main features that I used were tagging clips and creating presentations.


But I’m learning new skills every week. For example, at the moment I am experimenting with the KlipDraw drawing tool to illustrate the videos. This would have made presentations at HGC much easier.


Obviously, I could just point with my finger or with my laser pen, but actually having the drawings on the video would make things much quicker and easier to understand. 


Everybody has different learning styles, some are listeners, some are visual learners, and this would add an extra layer to the analysis and reach more players.


I’m also using the data matrix more and more. It helps me filter the clips in an analysis and find relevant plays quicker. I would love to keep learning this tool so that I can have a matrix which contains all the penalty corners, goals, etc, for an entire season.


When I have more time, I hope to be able to learn more about Nacsport dashboards. It’s not a necessity for me at the moment, but to be able to visualise the statistics of a game and have these linked directly to the videos, especially in a live situation, would be very useful for me.


There are many possibilities with Nacsport, and I look forward to learning everything the software has to offer.


So, that’s it for now - a fascinating insight into how video analysis is used at one of Holland’s oldest and most distinguished hockey clubs.


We’d like to thank Bram for taking the time out from his busy schedule to talk to us about his use of the software and video analysis in general and wish him luck for his future coaching endeavours.


As for HGC, they continue to work with Nacsport and we hope to bring you an update on this article later in the year, looking at how their new coach is implementing the software.


If you have any questions about Bram’s processes or want to know more about any of the features of Nacsport we have spoken about in this blog, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.


Until then…


Thanks for reading.


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