From the NPSL’s conception in 2009, the Erie Commodores have been a force to be reckoned with. The Commodores ended the 2013 season with an all time record of 49-10-11 and a goal differential of +90 to go alongside an impressive win rate of 70%. In their first 5 years of existence, the Commodores appeared in the national championship final as well as 2 appearances in the national semi-final.

However, in 2014 the Commodores’ sublime start began to stutter, and their record in the following 4 years was 19-20-9. Erie’s impressive 70% win rate had dropped to 39% and owner John Melody made the decision to bring in a local college coach with a proven track record of success, assisted by a former Commodores player.

New head coach Dale White and his assistant Billy Colton are bringing a fresh approach to the club, and contacted CoachTech about a potential partnership back in February.

“As an ambitious staff, we’re always looking to improve the way we do things however we can. The NPSL season is so short, and you have very little time to work with the players prior to the start of the competitive games, so we felt it was important to do as much as possible off the field to set us up professionally” – Dale White

In recent years, the access to video and data on games has increased, making it feasible for teams at almost any level to implement video analysis and in some cases make data driven decisions. After discussions regarding resources such as finance and time, the coaching team and CoachTech devised a plan to approach the season.


CoachTech’s education courses have proven successful since their launch earlier this year. Professional analysts and coaches from MLS academies, DA clubs, 3 EPL academies and 23 other League 1 or Championship clubs in the UK have taken them, alongside many D1 and D2 coaches in the NCAA. Dale and Billy were given access to our online platform and explored our Evidence-Based Coaching and Opposition Analysis courses.

“The evidence based coaching course taught me a lot in terms of how to present information to players. We would often show a little bit of film for specific concepts, but being able to back it up with facts made a big difference in the players learning. Just telling them could result in it going over their head, showing them, and then having facts for the whys really made it hard for players to argue with anything we were showing.” – Billy Colton

Develop a Playing Style

Whether it’s Atletico Madrid’s incredibly disciplined & organized defense, or Man City’s comfort on the ball and offensive positioning, a fundamental aspect of good teams is a defined playing style. CoachTech’s Match Analysis course encourages coaches to develop their own style, and find ways to measure whether their teams are playing according to plan.

“We already knew somewhat how we wanted to play going into the season. Myself and Billy have worked together for a while now, so I think we’re both on the same page about this. Seeing the video and data examples of how a clear style of play is beneficial to a team was really powerful and helped to focus on what we wanted to do with this group over the summer.” – Dale White

Get the players on the same page

Coaching is about changing player behavior, and sharing video and information with players is now a fundamental part of modern day coaching. Once Dale and Billy had developed specifics about their style of play, they needed to be able to share this with the players prior to the season.

Play, Analyze, Evaluate & Coach

The Commodores won their first game of the season on penalties in the US Open Cup, before being beaten by the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds on the back of a questionable penalty decision. Since then their league form has been exceptional, and performances have improved as the season developed – a positive sign that their methods were working.

“Much of our success has come from 15 minute post game meetings which take place 2 days after a game. In the meetings we review one or two specific points from the previous game and we build on that throughout the season. Using the video analysis correctly, enables us to establish patterns within the team and allows all the players to clearly understand the direction.” – Dale White

Evidence-Based Coaching focuses on individuals as well as team wide goals. A former striker for the Commodores and Mercyhurst University, Billy works individually with the Commodores forwards, focusing on their scoring opportunities and shot locations.

“This season so far we have scored 32 goals in 10 games. If I am right then I believe only 4 have come from outside the box. The scoring module on the coaching course was one I specifically took a lot from. The shot location maps to goals scored was staggering. Because of that we focus a lot on where we are shooting from and getting into them positions.”

“This module along with crossing one has provided us with statistics to discuss with the team and show why it is important we get into certain positions. We have really focused on getting into key crossing areas and the movement in the box from them areas. We don’t ever just want to throw the ball into the box. We want to work into good areas first. This has had huge success for us. We scored 4 goals against our biggest rivals with all 4 coming from crosses in these areas and 3 of our last 5 goals have come from crosses from key areas”.

I take the attacking players for 10-15 minutes while Coach White practices with the rest of the squad. When doing a shooting session, we do everything inside the 18 yard box, this is to reaffirm the importance of getting into these positions as they are high-scoring opportunities. We practice from different angles, with different situations and ensure there is high repetition” – Billy Colton

It seems to have paid fruition as forward Steven Rigg has left the team early to join a professional team in England.

The results

The Commodores have returned to their winning ways, having won the regular season conference title. This coming weekend sees the start of their playoff campaign, hosting Cleveland SC at home.  Regardless of how the season ends, especially after losing such a key attacking piece, head coach Dale White has no doubts about the processes in place giving the Commodores every chance to succeed.

“Results are everything, however, we constantly focus on our performance as opposed to the result. As coaches it is our job to work out what goes into the success rather than what comes out of it. If we do our job preparing the team, performances will maximize our potential and results will follow” – Dale White

CoachTech founder and Head of Analysis at MLS club Houston Dynamo, had an active role in the consultancy project with Erie, and was impressed with the coaching staff throughout the process.

“Dale and Billy need to be credited for the success the Commodores have had. Helping a team with video or data is only a small part of the overall coaching process, but finding marginal gains wherever possible is what separates the elite from the rest of the pack. They clearly had high ambitions for the club and weren’t happy to settle for anything but the best. It’s great to see the team succeeding on the field, because it’s clear the right work is being done behind the scenes” – Oliver Gage

CoachTech offers online coach education on video and data analysis and opposition scouting to coaches of all levels. To find out more please select the “Courses” tab above.

For consultancy projects similar to this please feel free to contact us.