British Fencing uses Huddle for training and collaboration

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British Fencing uses Huddle for training and collaboration

Caroline Baldwin

British Fencing has been using Huddle’s cloud-based collaboration platform to provide athletes, coaches and support staff with a centralised system to share information.

The organisation chose the Huddle platform a year ago and has been using it to create a secure online sporting collaboration environment where athletes and coaches can go to see personal performance data, training tips and other information.

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British Fencing is the National Governing Body for the Olympic Sport of Fencing, based in Lee Valley outside London. It is responsible for the Great Britain teams at senior, junior and cadet level, as well as the World Class Programme, which develops UK Sport and Sport England athletes into World and Olympic medal champions.

Huddle provides a secure way for British Fencing to store, share and work on performance content,” said David Fulcher, British fencing analyst at the English Institute of Sport. 

“With all relevant information in one central environment: communication, awareness and collaboration have improved between staff and athletes, which helps us to enhance performance.”

Time saver

Fulcher said that, until recently, performance analysis was a relatively unused discipline within British Fencing. As the British fencing analyst, Fulcher now attends and films tournaments, which he then codes and builds into very large data sets.

You try and use statistics and data to give better feedback to coaches to help improve performance,” he said.

Following this he would have to disseminate that information to athletes and coaches himself via handouts or email. Now, using the Huddle platform Fulchar can upload the videos, analysis and feedback to the athlete’s personal user dashboard.

“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.”

As well as post-tournament analysis, the Huddle platform also provides a single area where the whole team can communicate, post training and physiotherapy programmes, begin discussions as well as getting athletes to update personal information.

“It’s not just used for analysis,” said Fulcher. “For me, Huddle is about disseminating information efficiently and establishing a secure structure to share and communicate vital core content among athletes and staff.”

Additionally, Fulcher said that, because the sport is competed all over the world, all athletes are rarely in the same country at the same time.

“We needed a secure platform to be able to communicate with them in a secure way,” he said. “We can upload documents, one recently was put up about jetlag and how they can reduce the symptoms. The athletes can access and read before their flight.”

Security concerns

As the organisation is a UK sport initiative and a government agency, it has to be even more aware of securing data as it is funded by the tax payer.

Athletes can log on to their iPad and review their own feedback reports to see how they performed

“The National Governing Body has strict rules regarding data protection and Huddle meets all of the requirements,” he said. “File permissions restrict access to the right individuals and the audit trails ensure we know who’s accessing the content.”

“We have to abide by the data protection act and a DropBox folder isn’t secure,” he added.

The British Fencing organisation has all of its information stored on secure central servers and encrypted hard disks in the offices, but it found it wasn’t then easy to share this data with athletes who were travelling a lot of the time. They needed a way to communicate securely.

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.

Mobile applications

British Fencing currently has around 50 Huddle users and adoption has been rapid as each user needed only rudimentary training on Huddle before they were able to use it productively.

Huddle’s mobile applications are also popular with the athletes, who find it easier to access information and videos while on the move.

“After a training session or competition, the athlete can log on to their iPad and review their own feedback reports to see how they performed and how the opposition faired,” he said.

If we have a close working relationship with Huddle we can help build on and make it more user friendly

But while the athletes love the iPhone application, Fulcher said the Android application isn’t the same and he is discussing how to improve it with Huddle.

“What you can do on iPhone, very similar to a Facebook-style app, stream video and notifications and the boys love it,” he said. “They use the app more than online, they don’t upload a lot of stuff, so they use it for notifications.”

While the athletes favour the applications, Fulcher said the staff prefer the Apple Mac desktop application, because it has a folder structure similar to a hard disk.

The fact that Fulcher works with a smaller company such as Huddle means he can continue building a working relationship to make the service more bespoke for British Fencing.

“There are little things in long term – if we have a close working relationship with Huddle we can help build on and make it more user friendly,” he said.


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