Sporting Iowa is the premier youth soccer club for the state of Iowa. Focusing on U11 through U19, the club is a pipeline from recreational level to professional level and has become a major force in developing talented players that go on to play for top colleges.
As more and more players have graduated from the Sporting Iowa pipeline, Whitney Lewis, the Sporting Iowa Girls Director, began to realize that the club was falling behind other states when it came to video analysis. “We haven’t had anything for a long time,” stated Lewis. “Something always seemed to come up financially that would take precedence over soccer camera systems in our budget. Admittedly, we were behind the times.”
The club was trying to solve numerous challenges around recording soccer games and making the game film useful to players and college coaches:
- Iowa’s distance from Division I schools meant that players had difficulty getting in front of college coaches and needed soccer game film to bridge the gap.
- The club had experimented with recording matches in the past, but it was time-consuming. Coaches were spending countless hours setting up a hi-pod, downloading video, clipping video, and then posting clips on Youtube.
- Communicating with college coaches was stressful for parents and players.
- COVID-19 made recording soccer games a necessity because Division I coaches were not attending games in person.
Sporting Iowa started a trial run of Trace in mid-September 2020. Initially skeptical about soccer camera systems because of the time and expense involved, they soon discovered Trace was much more than a soccer camera. Here’s what they learned:
- Recording and delivering highlights became an automatic process. “Our parents were on board immediately because they had been using HUDL and were having issues clipping and editing video all the time, stated Lewis. “So the convenience of having all the Trace moments the next day after games, and everything already being tagged, was great.”
- Communication with college coaches became more frequent. The club saw a huge jump in players reaching out to recruiters more regularly. “Before we had Trace, players would send coaches a Youtube video of a random highlight,” said Lewis. “Now, many players are sending coaches updates every two weeks with a link to their Trace iD with all their new moments. Players can click to add a spotlight unlike on other platforms, and college coaches can easily find the clips they want to see with the title and heading. Coaches tell us they love getting the Trace iD link because it’s super easy to navigate.”
- Coaching became easier and more effective. Coach Lewis used game film in college as a player and knew it was a fantastic teacher of the game. Now, her team has meetings on Fridays before weekend games where they run through old Trace moments of their opponents and identify what they need to improve. Lewis also notes that video makes giving critical feedback less emotional: “The camera doesn’t lie, so it’s great at teaching. An individual might push back on some feedback, but I can pull up 3 clips and show them examples of what I’m talking about, or if it’s a team tactic like we’re not switching the point of attack enough, I can show the team on film and hold players more accountable.”
- Coaching became more personalized. “Instead of using memory, I have all 18 of their players with their individual clips, and I can list all of the areas of improvement. A lot of kids are visual learners, and just adding video detail has resulted in faster growth as a team.”
- Trace became a key marketing tool for events. Sporting Iowa is gearing up for their College ID camp in March, and Trace has been a key selling point in encouraging teams to participate. “I think word of mouth has spread about us using Trace, and once people see what Trace delivers, parents think it’s a no-brainer to participate.”
- Trace equalized opportunity for all players. Before Trace, only some Sporting Iowa families could afford to buy their own camera systems and then hire editors to create highlight reels. “Now that we can pay for this as a club for everyone to access, it makes recording soccer games much more affordable for our families.”
- Parents became less stressed. “It’s so easy for players to add clips to their Trace iD, so we’re seeing more kids take ownership of that process. Parents are just so relieved that they don’t have to do this anymore.”
One Player’s Story
In the beginning of the Fall season, one Sporting Iowa player was struggling with confidence. The player could not see any positives in her play and felt that if she wasn’t scoring goals then she wasn’t contributing. These feelings caused her to clam up a bit and hesitate on the pitch.
“I told her as a coach all the influential things she was doing, but it went in one ear and out the other,” said Coach Lewis. “But when we tried out Trace, I was able to sit down with her Trace video and show her key moments where she was contributing. I pulled up 7 clips showing how she was helping the team. And it changed her confidence this year and pulled her out of a rut.”
Over the rest of the season, the player began to come out of her shell and appreciate all the various nuances that were helping the team. Her confidence improved, and her performance improved.
Deciding on Trace as an All-In-One Game Film Solution
“The trial was an awesome way to learn how to use Trace,” said Coach Lewis. “And we could see the mission of Trace was to take all video work off the plate of coaches and players.”
Trace has enabled Sporting Iowa, as a collective, to compete with the highest leagues in terms of visibility and exposure to colleges around the country. And it saved precious time for coaches and parents.
“No way in heck would we go back to not using video as a team. Before Trace, I’d have to take so much time setting up our own hi-pod, downloading video, clipping it, putting it on Youtube. All this time that no one has anymore. I don’t know any other platform that does this. The reasoning behind Trace, the fact that it does all the work for you automatically, the convenience of it. It’s spot-on to what kids and coaches need these days.”
Customer service was another major factor in the team’s decision to purchase Trace. “Every time I had a question the customer service would send me a response in 10 minutes. And the customer service was amazing. If we needed a new Tracer, it would be in the mail the next day. That’s not the norm anymore with customer support.”
“It was not only the convenience, but the collective support, the involvement, and the true passion we saw in the Trace team that really sold us during the trial. For me and for parents, it was a no-brainer. It was almost too good to be true.”