How Ipswich Academy deliver elite video analysis on a Cat 2 budget
Written by Simon Austin — April 7, 2023
VIDEO ANALYSIS is pivotal at all ages and at all stages at Ipswich Town’s Academy.
Training and matches are filmed, streamed and coded. Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are evidenced with video and data. Best practice is shared around the club using footage.
The set-up is elite, both in terms of the number of training sessions and matches being filmed and the way the footage is analysed, which is particularly impressive when you consider that Ipswich are a Category Two Academy.
“The club has been through a lot of good change recently,” explains Head of Academy Performance Analysis Adam Cuthbert. “That’s not about money, that’s about processes.”
You'd think this kind of set-up would require a lot of manpower and resources, but no, and Veo cameras are one of the big reasons why.
Veo cameras don’t require an operator, which means they can be set up to record while a member of staff codes (creates video clips in different categories) on a laptop. When a match or session has ended, this person can get straight to downloading, sharing and analysing.
The Veo camera records a panoramic view of the entire pitch and then - and this is the really clever part - Artificial Intelligence (AI) detects where the ball is during processing and delivers a broadcast view.
The idea for the camera came to Veo founder Keld Reinicke when he was late to one of his son’s matches and missed him scoring a goal. This made him wonder why all matches couldn’t be recorded and his product was born. Since then, Veo cameras have been sold in more than 80 countries and recorded half a million games.
“Veo cameras have enabled us to film a lot more, it's as simple as that,” explains Joe Western, Ipswich Town’s Lead Academy Performance Analyst. “We have games in the evenings, at the weekends, and getting the manpower to film and code all of that is not possible.
“If you are both filming and coding, then one or the other is going to suffer. With Veo, you can collect more as you go.”
Now the club are able to record training and matches (both home and away) all the way from the Foundation Phase (9s to 12s) to the Under-21s. Ipswich have four Veo cameras - three for the Academy and one for their women’s team - and Kieran McKenna’s men's first team sometimes use one too.
“The first team have invested in a high-spec drone, which has provided excellent footage,” explains Cuthbert, “but they’ve used the Veo for individual bits, like set pieces in the dome, when they’re not able to use the drone.”
When the Academy teams travel to away games, a Veo camera invariably goes with them. For the 18s and 21s, Ipswich film two angles - behind the goal using a traditional camera and also a panoramic view using a Veo.
“Afterwards we can sync between the two angles, so that if you’re in a review meeting and a coach asks, ‘Can we have that from the other angles’, we’re able to quickly toggle between the two,” says Cuthbert.
The Veo cameras are easy to set up, even for the work placement students who come in from the University of Suffolk to film and code training and matches.
“The camera can go up to seven metres high,” explains Cuthbert. "The tripod has three legs and you put it up a rung, clamp it, and so on until it’s at the height you want - it’s really easy.
"Then you press 'start' and the Veo records until you press stop. The operator can set up and then code live using an iPad, rather than having to stand with a camera and then go back through the footage again at the end.
“You have a couple of settings on there - wide angle, which we tend to use for the older age groups - and the zoom, which we tend to use for the younger ones, when we’re focusing more on individual clips and analysis. The footage automatically uploads when you connect to the internet and you can telestrate, make highlights and share in Veo Editor.”
The footage can be quickly shared and accessed across the Academy - and by first-team staff too.
“The first-team analyst wants the U21 games up as quickly as possible, even if they’re travelling away for a game,” says Cuthbert. “If they’re in a hotel, the first-team staff can watch the footage, which is especially important if there are senior lads playing."
There is good alignment between the Academy and first team and a close link between both.
“Our home games for the 21s are played at the training ground on a Friday afternoon, so generally the first team staff are out there and Kieran was at every FA Youth Cup game,” Cuthbert says.
Video analysis is pivotal in the review process at the Ipswich Academy, with both individual and team clips and footage synced with data.
Every Academy player has an Individual Development Plan (IDP), with video and data used to provide insight in to how they’re performing and progressing.
Veo helps to speed up the review process, making more efficient use of analyst time, so that information is back with coaches and players as quickly as possible.
“After a game we can be getting on with coding specifically for individuals,” explains Cuthbert. “This means we can get insights for individual players and that their IDPs are brought to life.’
“Video is so important to us as a learning tool and to provide us with insights. It’s a problem if IDPs are vague or quite general - we want them to be live and measurable."
The Academy recently created a Player Development strand within its coaching department, with three new members of staff brought in to support age group coaches. The main focus is on individual player development, progress and transition. These members of staff work closely with the analysis department and help to connect both on-field and off-field coaching and delivery.
This is an approach that seeks to replicate what the first team are doing. There is a cycle of performing out on the pitch, reviewing the footage, discussing with players and then getting back out on the pitch to practice.
This has also helped to develop a culture of players wanting to review their own performances and team, unit, peer group and individual development workshops are now commonplace. Data is an important part of the process too.
“We work with some more advanced metrics," Cuthbert explains. "This morning we did a session on xG with our U21s. We explained that 0 to 0.1 was a low chance and that 0.3 and above was a big chance.
"We then showed them video clips of their shots and asked them to try and assess the xG. They were way off to start with but by the end had really got the hang of it. That was a good example of linking the video with the data.”
There has also been a big focus on methodology at the club recently - both in terms of style of play and processes. The idea is to align these across the club and develop a clear identity for an Ipswich Town team.
In the Academy, a Performance Insights and Methodology strand has been added to the analysis department.
“We are developing a playing model across our age groups in the Academy,” says Cuthbert. “Video is a big element of that. Take playing through the thirds - we have video examples of the 12s doing it, the 15s doing it; then all the way up to our first team and an elite Premier League side.’’
“This has been really effective in our analysis sessions. It brings things to life for the younger ages and then the 21s have tangible examples of what they’re aspiring to, because they’re only one step away from senior football.
“Performance Insights are blended with video to lay out the methodology and analysis staff have been heavily involved with that.”
Cuthbert is mindful of the ways in which youngsters learn in a world dominated by social media, smartphones and video. The youngsters and their parents have been heavily involved in the process of establishing the best ways to work, too.
“Our Academy Manager, Dean Wright, recently set up parents workshops at Portman Road and we had every department there,” Cuthbert reveals. “The parents were able to go round the tables and speak to the different departments. They were asking ‘What should I be doing with my kid?’ And we were asking them what they thought.
“We also did an analysis survey with the U18s - so how often they watch analysis videos, what they watch, what they watch on, and when. About 75% said they watched it on a phone, which surprised me. I’m only 27, so not loads older than them, and that isn’t how I would view the videos. So that gave us two choices - either encourage them to do it in different ways or run with it and make sure everything is as accessible as possible on their phones.
“There is an element of the former, because it’s probably not good for to be spending too long on your phone; and you can see the footage better on a bigger screen. But we also have to be realistic. It’s great that they’re engaging with the analysis process and this is how they’re going to be doing it."
- Veo is giving readers of Training Ground Guru a £200 discount on their cameras. To find out more click HERE