How to coach (with) a winning team

UCF knights use Spiideo’s video analysis system. Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak winning the regionals.

Tiffany and Tim are coaching college soccer at the University of Central Florida Knights women’s soccer program (In short UCF Knights). Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, an Olympic gold medalist, World Cup champion and impressive three times American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, is the head coach. Her husband Tim Sahaydak was in 1997 the youngest player ever to play on a Major League Soccer team (Columbus Crew) and is the associate head coach. Together they form a unique team. And they have a unique approach to coaching soccer and individual player development. 

Player centric approach

When Tiffany started coaching college soccer she wanted to bring the culture of a world championship team with her to the college world. What stuck with her was using a player centric approach to reach the team goals. To make the students part of the process. Tim and Tiffany created individual player development programs with focus areas. It’s a partly technical approach that puts the responsibility of player development on the players themselves. Since the team was already using Spiideo’s video analysis system, it made sense to let the students use the same tool, to analyze their game. 

We just push a button to record the game and it frees up time for us to focus on player development.

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, head coach UCF knights

The next day the players tag different clips highlighting focus areas set up in the individual player programs. It makes players evaluate their own game. Shortly after Tim or Tiffany analyze the game with individual players as well as with the team. 

Using the video clips, together with the drawing and presentation tools in Spiideo, makes it very effective when showing decisions the players make on the field. Our players are now more self aware, but they also see where they have made progress.

Tim D. Sahaydak, associate head coach UCF knights

Part of the feedback

Being a college soccer coach is for Tim and Tiffany a never-ending pursuit of knowledge. That’s also why they started analyzing what had driven them to become high achieving players. The art of receiving feedback immediately came to their minds. Not just getting used to receiving honest feedback, but how important the players’ relationship to feedback is. That’s also why they wanted to motivate “self coaching” using video analysis, which makes the player part of the feedback loop. It has made an enormous impact on the players.

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and Tim Sahaydak coaching college soccer at UCF Knights.

Now the coach and the player are on the same team. It’s me and you vs. the issue, instead of me telling you to fix it.

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, head coach UCF knights

Exploring leadership

Leadership starts with the coach and extends to the captains and the veterans of the team. That’s Tim and Tiffany’s approach. They find it equally important to take care of the younger players. To expose them to the type of leadership that is warm, motivational, inspiring but with a high standard. The way they approach leadership in college soccer is by being the one that encourages and simultaneously enforce high standards. 

My goal is to bring the culture where you can be the best in the world, be an overachiever and still be nice.

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, head coach UCF knights
UCF knights use Spiideo’s video analysis system. Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and Tim Sahaydak coaching college soccer at UCF Knights.

Working as a team

Tim and Tiffany are naturally different. When Tiffany has great ideas she wants implemented, she asks Tim. He’s the tactician, the analytical one that implements the ideas. Tiffany is the psychological leader that manages personnel. They both try to be the coaches they connected with the best in their own youth. To be approachable, open and honest. Authentic people that fosters trust. If they make a mistake they let their students know. Being husband and wife also has its advantages. Students get to see the respect, love and passion for soccer and coaching college soccer the two of them share. 

Some parents seem to like the family perspective with me and Tim. They almost see it as if their children are being coached by mum and dad.

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, head coach UCF knights