Great Britain’s Men’s Foil (Fencing) team recently fought their way to a bronze medal at the World Cup in Germany: the best British team result in a World Cup event for five years. Success of this sort in fencing demands the greatest degree of training, performance and agility. As the National Governing Body for the Olympic Sport of Fencing, British Fencing is responsible for the Great Britain teams at senior, junior and cadet level and is behind the athletes, supporting and helping to drive such successes. In particular, British Fencing’s World Class Programme (WCP) leads, manages and supports athlete’s development towards podium success at the World Championships and Olympic Games. British Fencing works with multiple parties to deliver a range of performance impacting sport science, sports medicine and technology services for the country’s elite and emerging fencers. In order to improve the training, preparation and performance of each fencer, the athletes, coaches and support staff all have to communicate and work effectively together on training programmes, feedback and game statistics. To streamline this collaborative process, British Fencing has standardised on Huddle the provision of each fencing athlete with objective performance data. This data includes both statistical and visual analysis feedback of the British fencers and their opposition. The cloud-based collaboration platform gives everyone involved in the fencing programme consolidated and personalised insights into athlete management.
“Until recently, performance analysis was a relatively unused discipline within British Fencing,” explains David Fulcher, British Fencing Analyst at the English Institute of Sport. “Huddle provides a secure way for British Fencing to store, share and work on performance content. With all relevant information in one central environment: communication, awareness and collaboration have improved between staff and athletes, which helps us to enhance performance.”
Huddle enables all those involved with the Programme to share knowledge, work on documents and engage in productive discussions both inside and across the firewall. For example, when a British Fencing individual logs onto the general Huddle page, there are physiotherapy programmes, videos featuring rehabilitation exercises and nutritional tips. Depending on their permissions, they can then drill down into a secure, personalised dashboard of their performance - including daily training plans, Strength and Conditioning (S&C) reports, sports medicine and event travel information. Fulcher explains: “For me, Huddle is about disseminating information efficiently and establishing a secure structure to share and communicate vital core content among athletes and staff.” One of the great advantages of Huddle is the mobile integration. The Huddle app for iOS and Android means that all stakeholders have the ability to access information and videos quickly and efficiently when on the move. Fulcher continues: “After a training session or competition, the athlete can log onto their iPad and review their own feedback reports to see how they performed and how the opposition faired. They can evaluate the Key Performance Indicators from within a key match, training session, entire competition or season. They can then also access their fights videos to watch through, understand and review their performance from a visual point of view – movement patterns, tactics strengths and weaknesses. With Huddle, all of this information is timely, updateable and relevant.” Huddle is also improving the efficiency, reliability and security within the Programme. Fulcher and other WCP Staff used to devote a significant amount of time to distributing documents manually via email and by hand. This included time spent checking whether the individual was authorised to view the data and whether the correct version of the document was being sent. Now it’s different: “I estimate saving around an hour every day using Huddle,” Fulcher says. “Instead of manually distributing information to coaches and athletes, we are now all sharing the same view of content and are able to devote more time to training and coaching”.
British Fencing currently has approximately 50 Huddle users and adoption has been rapid as each user needed only rudimentary training on Huddle before they were comfortable and productive. One of the main reasons for British Fencing choosing Huddle was the service’s security features as it is pan government accredited at IL2 and used by 80 per cent of central UK government departments. The government-grade security reassured Fulcher and his team: “The National Governing Body has strict rules regarding data protection and Huddle meets all of the requirements. File permissions restrict access to the right individuals and the audit trails ensure we know who’s accessing the content. Huddle helps us to run the British Fencing World Class Programme more efficiently by improving communication and collaboration between staff and athletes, while providing ease of access and high level data security from wherever we’re competing globally,” concludes Fulcher.