We recently started a new segment on MSC as we have partnered up with APFA (Association of Professional Football Analysts). The first in our series of 'Friday interviews' was on the topic of college recruitment and the role of data. For this discussion, we were joined by two coaches with extensive experience and success at the highest level of Division One college soccer. Chris Rich is the head coach of UNC-Greensboro, who inside only three years, has led the program to two Southern Conference regular season titles, the 2020-21 Southern Conference Tournament championship, an NCAA Tournament appearance, and national rankings. Katelyn Longino is the assistant coach at University of Iowa, where she has worked for five years, having joined the program after coaching stints in Valparaiso, Xavier, and Columbus State. The full interview is available on the APFA website. Just click here, start an account and watch for FREE!!
The objective of the interview was to get as much insight into how data really impacts the daily processes of a college program. We started the discussion on the recruitment side, where the role of data is in it's early stages with the youth set-up in the United States. However, even though we may not be generating assisted xG numbers on potential recruits, both coaches shared how technology and data play a huge role within their programs in terms of organization of recruitment 'boards' and work-flows. Many under-appreciate the sheer volume of players that are interested in playing for a successful Division One team. It's not unusual for thousands of high school players to be in contact with a coaching staff throughout a year. Below is a segment from Katelyn Longino discussing their rating system at University of Iowa and the importance of tracking players over a number of years, as opposed to just one evaluation.
Another aspect of data in college soccer that was discussed in the meeting was how coaches managed the process of data within the season. Chris Rich talked through a Wyscout report that he would receive after every game. Again, the volume of data could potentially pose a challenge for a coaching staff in terms of what matters most, but the most fascinating part of Chris' insight was how specific he was on certain metrics aligning with the game model at UNC - Greenboro. Below is a clip where he discusses the aspect of possession and why those metrics matter to him and his players.
A constant theme throughout the webinar was the need for coaches to constantly connect the dots around data. Neither coach felt that raw numbers were particularly valuable to them in any aspect of their program. Instead, it was about integration and adapting the information to the context of their team and players. College recruitment moves fast, so having frameworks that can align staff in philosophy and processes can be hugely effective in identifying and managing talent. If you would like to enjoy the full interview, just click here, start an account and watch for FREE!!