Progressive Video Coaching at Fargo Force

By Duncan Ritchie

24-May-2023 on Users

13 minute read

By any account, Fargo Force have had a great season. Ending the regular USHL season as champs and lifting the Anderson Cup for the first time in their history, they went on to secure second place in the play offs. On top of all this, their head coach, Nick Oliver won a well deserved USHL Coach of the Year award. 


And some of the credit for this amazing season and success must also go to Andrew Magera, Assistant Coach and Head of Scouting at Fargo Force. He and his fellow coaches have developed a video coaching philosophy which promotes collaboration and participation above all else.


We recently sat down with Andrew to learn more about this philosophy and how Fargo uses Nacsport to improve individual and team performance.


So, let’s hear from the man himself…

andrew magera fargo force


What’s the video coaching philosophy at Fargo Force?


Our philosophy is to use video to deliver concise and specific messages and teaching points. We use video as a tool to illustrate our opponents tendencies and to instruct our players on what they are doing wrong, and more importantly, what they are doing right.

From the perspective of preparing for a game, what role does video play at Fargo Force in preparing your team and players to take to the ice?


Video preparation is a huge part of our week as coaches. We use it to teach our players in some specific areas that need to be tightened up before each game and we also use it to paint a picture of our opponent’s tendencies and what our players should expect when they hit the ice


Later in the season, after we’ve played against each team enough times, we can pull clips and illustrate our opponent’s tendencies specifically against us. This makes our coaching a little easier, as it’s much more relatable for the players.


At this point in the season (at time of writing, Fargo are deep in the playoffs), we’ve already played our opponent at least six times. This means that we can look back at the previous gameday presentations we made with Nacsport, check what we covered, what worked and, of course, what didn’t.


Having this bank of clips, created using Nacsport, which relate to specific games during the season, makes prepping our meetings very quick and efficient

How much video coaching do you do with your players in the days leading up to a game from a team, individual and special teams perspective?


We play our games almost exclusively on the weekends, so on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after practice, a coach will grab players for individual video sessions based on the previous weekend’s games.


Most of the time, this is a needs based session. If there’s something glaring that we need to address with a player, this is our opportunity to provide additional support and teaching.


However, there are times when a player will come to us with a request to see something specific in their play and get more detailed feedback regarding various scenarios.


This is becoming more commonplace and will continue to become so as younger athletes constantly keep looking for additional feedback. 


Thursday, we’ll meet with one or both power play and penalty kill special teams for a brief video session prior to practice. This is just to tighten the screws in a few areas we want to work on.


Coaches will go back through games and tag clips from the post-game breakdown we do to build the individual meetings. 


Typically I create a presentation specifically for individual teaching purposes from each of the weekend’s two games.

video coaching at fargo force



How do you use video on gameday?


On game day, we have a team pre-scout meeting, powerplay meeting and a penalty kill meeting, all with accompanying video.


We’ll typically look through 2 or 3 of their previous games to pre-scout a team. 


On game day we will have a team pre-scout meeting, a power-play meeting, and a penalty kill meeting - all with accompanying video.


Typically, we use Nacsport to analyze these games and add relevant clips to a Nacsport presentation list named “All Clips”. From here, we’ll then sort them into more specific lists for the different meetings we have. So, in the end, we have lists labelled “Pre-Scout Meeting”, “Penalty Kill”, “Power Play”, etc.

What role does video analysis play in your in game decision making and adjustments?


We use video to confirm or correct our in-game feelings from the bench. We typically look at aspects such as players, line combinations, systems and faceoffs.


You can only see so much when it happens live, so we rely on video between periods to help us make personnel and tactical decisions. It’s easy to access the relevant clips when they have been tagged with Nacsport.


We use the Nacsport dashboard tool during the game to get a sense of the statistical flow of the game and compare it with our live feel of the flow of the game.


For example, we might feel that we’re doing really well on faceoffs, but the stats look completely different. Or we might feel that we’re defending in our zone for long stretches of time, but then we take a look at the dashboard and we see that it’s actually pretty even at both ends.


We use the video to confirm or correct our in-game feeling from the bench on certain players, line combinations, systems, faceoffs, etc.. You can only see so much when it happens live, we rely on video between periods to make personnel and tactical decisions. We use the dashboard tool in game to get a sense of the analytical “flow” of the game and compare it with our live feel of the “flow” of the game. It may feel like we are doing really well on faceoffs in game, but the stats may look different; or it might feel like we were defending in our zone for long stretches of time, but looking at our dashboard the zone time at each end is actually pretty even. 


nacsport hockey tagging window

How do you approach your post-game analysis?


This season, we’ve taken the approach of reviewing the games from start to finish as if it were our first time seeing them.


We’ll usually have one coach “driving” the analysis - controlling the computer and tagging the game with Nacsport - while the other coaches just watch and make comments. They’ll suggest making specific tags to highlight something interesting, or reference another point in the game for comparison.


Our associate head coach runs the defensemen on the bench and our head coach runs the forwards so, in the post-game tagging, these are usually additional points of view on why a player made a decision or why certain personnel were used in specific situations.


As a collective, we all add clips in order to get an objective view of how we played. Basically, we gather our thoughts as we review the game again.


We then supplement these clips with our customized in-game dashboard.

As an organization working with younger athletes, how receptive are they to video-based feedback and coaching?


We’ve found that our players, who are aged 16 - 20, respond really well to video-based teaching.


They all spend so much time with digital media that this is exactly how they tend to consume information anyway.


It’s completely natural for them to have a video component included in their instruction.

How important is video coaching for player development at Fargo Force?


It plays a huge part in the player development model at Fargo.


Every member of staff is proficient in using Nacsport, and use it to teach the players about the things that are bringing them success, as well as some of the areas in which they can improve.


Using video to teach individuals as well as in a group setting is massive for player development. The most common workflow is to tag a game for pre-scouting and then add clips to a presentation. Clips are then added to the Nacsport presentation tool in order to prepare the team.

fargo force live tagging nacsport


What methods of communication and feedback have you found most effective with your players?


In our case, we’ve found that in-person verbal communication is always the starting point.


We start by setting the expectations or feel of the feedback session then supplement this with video and statistics that help send the message we intend to deliver.


We’ve found that the biggest piece of the puzzle is having and maintaining positive relationships with the players over the course of a season. This, of course, makes players more receptive when we use video or analytics to help the players achieve their personal and team goals.


fargo force cup winners



So, there you have it. Video analysis forms a huge part of the coaching at Fargo Force. It’s also worth noting that this is only their second season using Nacsport.


Now, we’re not saying that our software is responsible for all the success they’ve had this season, that’s obviously down to the coaches and the players themselves, but they have, without a doubt, embraced the use of technology to help them mature and improve as a team.


It’s also heartening to hear that there’s not just one coach who is responsible for the use of video at the team. There’s a real emphasis on joint participation in the process and we love the fact that every coach is proficient in using the software.


It goes without saying that, at Nacsport, we’re extremely proud to be able to support their video coaching efforts and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the team.


We’d like to thank Andrew for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer all our questions in such a thorough and insightful manner.


If you have any questions about video analysis processes with Nacsport, please feel free to get in contact with us at any time. We’d be happy to help.


You can also get more information by clicking here.


Thanks for reading.

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