The COPA Assessment - The Next Evolution in Soccer

Utilizing our partnership with the Oakland Roots, COPA STC’s trailblazing approach transcends player development and player identification to provide the best chance for everyone to achieve their goals.

The Next Evolution in Soccer

Goals win games, shape careers, and create legends. Goals also develop the road we travel and navigate us along the journey of who we want to become. They pave the path, provide guidance, and set a destination.

Goals give us reasons to achieve more.

What is COPA STC’s goal? To combine training methodologies rooted in sports science with cutting-edge technologies to transcend player development and player identification through an assessment-based approach.

Assessments are the catalyst behind engaging feedback loops and integrating gamification into COPA STC’s player development and identification ecosystem. After all, COPA does stand for Comprehensive Objective Performance Assessment. These provide a quantitative benchmark used to measure an athlete’s progress and compare their performance to their peers.

Read the Book, Not the Cover

The traditional approach to player development and identification has been heavily influenced by subjective observation. We’ve all heard the cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover,” yet countless athletes have been passed over because they didn’t pass some coach’s arbitrary eye test.

More often than not, a coach’s goal is to prepare for next week’s match, not necessarily emphasizing the long-term technical, physical, and cognitive development of each individual athlete. Their plan to win may come at the cost of developing and mastering an athlete’s necessary lifelong skills. It doesn’t help that most coaches also do not have access to advanced technology to measure and train their athletes.

“COPA STC’s purpose is to optimize the player development and player identification efforts of clubs, coaches, organizations, players, and parents,” says Charlie Campbell, COPA STC General Manager. “We spent 5 years visiting the world’s top clubs in pursuit of an assessment-based approach. By combining the world’s leading assessment technologies with our own proprietary ones, we aim to provide the best opportunity to identify potential talent and assist in the long-term development of all athletes. We want to offer the same elite-level sports science methodology that the top clubs in the world are deploying to every athlete that walks through our doors.”

Athletes of all ages and skill levels have access to this innovative technology.
COPA STC readily offers our technologies and training methodologies to create vital data that guides a curated curriculum for each athlete’s long-term development. No more hoarding technology. No more protecting pertinent data to a player’s development. All ages and all skill levels should have access. We are transforming our approach to player development so everyone can unlock their individual potential.
Breaking Down COPA’s Assessment
Here is a play-by-play to better understand our assessment-based approach:
1. We collect objective quantitative data on the technical, physical, and cognitive skills of an athlete utilizing the world’s most advanced technologies.
2. Our machine algorithms analyze the data against a large database to determine the athlete’s relative strengths and weaknesses
3. We develop a tailored training prescription to optimize the athlete’s individual development.
4. We curate an array of training curriculums hyper-focused on the individual needs of the athlete. Certified coaches leverage a purposeful training methodology to maximize skill development within a gamified small group environment.
5. Athletes periodically re-assess to track their progression and update their training focus.
The Key to Unlocking Potential
Competitive athletes want to reach their full potential, but don’t always have the tools to do so. There are two key elements an athlete needs in order to improve – knowledge and access. Knowledge comes with an understanding of one’s own strengths and shortcomings. Access is having the necessary resources to elevate the strengths and improve the shortcomings.

“The COPA Soccer Assessment objectively quantifies an athlete’s skills, identifies areas for development, and creates a baseline for each player to work from,” says Barry McCabe, COPA STC Senior Director, Development Division. “No matter how an athlete performs in the assessment, they will receive actionable information back. This is the key to the development end of what we aim to do – learning and development can only happen when the athlete is engaged in the process, receives feedback to guide the learning, and has clear objectives (goals). The scores can accelerate this process dramatically.”

The SpeedCourt is an agility-based training and assessment device that uses customized games to challenge athletes physically and cognitively.
These numbers would be arbitrary if it weren’t for the database we have accumulated from hundreds of assessments of athletes of all ages and skill levels. We can compare an athlete’s assessment performance against those of a similar age to see how their skillset matches up. We can also compare each player to their aspiring level of play. Where did they excel? What aspects of their game could use improvement? How did they stack up against the high performers?

“These comparative data inform us of the next phase of training,” says Dr. Ming-Chang Tsai, COPA STC Managing Director, Science, and Technology. “Once we identify strengths and gaps, we can individualize training sessions and development plans to address these. This is where the data comes into play. Now that we have the athlete’s completed assessment and a database to compare their skills to, we can prescribe training. We individualize the training approach in a small group setting tailored to focus on highlighting each athlete’s strengths and developing their shortcomings.”

The athlete has a goal, we provide the guidance and tools to get them there.

And this is not a one-off assessment. It’s repeatable. By assessing, data comparison, training, reassessing, and so on, we provide the opportunity for constant and continued growth.

Everyone Gets A Fair Shot
Almost every athlete knows what it’s like to be looked over and passed up. You put in the work and show up to find hundreds of other hopefuls and one coach with a clipboard at tryouts. Coaches rely mostly on word of mouth, the previous year’s coaches, scouts, or that day’s performance. It’s near impossible for both athletes and coaches to assess everyone in this way. You do well but fall through the cracks.
Due to the lack of player-specific and peer-based objective data to support decision-making, player identification has often proven to be inefficient and littered with bias – specifically around the prioritization of physical development over long-term potential. Take Antione Griezmann for example. Turned away by club after club due to his small stature only to end up a World Cup champion. How many other Griezmann’s have been overlooked due to bias and short-sightedness?
Over the past 5-7 years, the world’s top clubs have invested heavily to develop and acquire technologies that produce quantitative data to assess and train their players – from the first team down to the academy squad. Many of the top clubs use the same technology to assess their active players to enhance player development and prospective players to identify talent in optimizing team selection.
Instead of only investing in expensive athletes, European teams excel in part due to developing their homegrown talent by focusing on the long-term development. We know this as the “Moneyball Effect.” COPA STC is committed to bringing this modernized youth approach to guiding team selection with data-based decisions to the states and providing it to everyone that comes through our doors. The COPA Soccer Assessment gives every athlete an objective pathway to showcase their skills in a fair and equitable environment

“Soon, the days of purely subjective observations and player identification will be gone,” Charlie adds. “Quantitative data will assist decision-makers in their evaluation of talent. Organizations like the Oakland Roots, NorCal Premier PDP Program, Walnut Creek Surf, and multiple NCAA Division 1 programs are already leveraging COPA STC’s Soccer Assessment to assist in player identification. By establishing benchmarks, these assessments will become a filtering mechanism to objectively evaluate talent.”

Starting With The Roots

In COPA’s pursuit of building the most comprehensive database for all ages and skill levels, we have utilized our partnership with the Oakland Roots to assess players in all pillars of the club – Roots Recognize Initiative, Project 51O, and the Oakland Roots 1st team.

Players from Project 51O prepare for their assessment in the skills.lab Arena.
The COPA Soccer Assessment provides an additional opportunity to evaluate players. “We hear from hundreds of hopeful athletes every month looking to take their soccer careers to the next level,” says Jordan Ferrell, Oakland Roots Technical Director. “It’s impossible to see every one of them. Potential pros are inevitably missed because they are not caught by the traditional subjective methods. COPA’s Soccer Assessment can evaluate these prospective athletes and provide us with critical data we would otherwise not have. This objective evaluation can help fill in the gaps of the recruiting and training process.” The assessment-based approach creates an added layer of objective player identification to shore up holes in the process – the Oakland Roots can assess prospective players who may deserve a deeper look for the first team.
In addition, the baseline assessment of current Roots players provides the team with a deeper analysis, data showing strengths and shortcomings, individual player development plans, tracking of individual athlete’s growth, and either reinforce previous thoughts or provide data for overlooked information due to subjective bias. “Our testing emphasizes key aspects of the soccer player – decision making, finishing, passing, ball control, speed, agility, and strength,” says Charlie.

COPA has performed over 50 assessments of players in the Oakland Roots Organization, from 1st team through youths in the Roots Recognized Initiative who have been tipped for future success. These assessments have provided the Roots technical staff an extra layer of insight into the makeup of their talented players, while also objectively comparing players across the playing levels. “The info provided has fueled more conversation about players, their potential trajectory, as well as areas the players will focus on developing with their coaches at the club,” says Barry.

Make the right pass at the right time – a Project 51O player’s decision-making, speed of play, and accuracy are put to the test.

COPA STC and the Roots are completing the assessments of their current players to establish their competitive benchmarks, assisting their technical staff in making team selections in the coming years. This objective player identification pathway will also be provided to the general public to see how you stack up against professional athletes.

Transform and Transcend

The COPA Soccer Assessment objectively optimizes player development and identification in order to unlock their maximum potential. No more clipboard-wielding coaches on the side of a two-day tryout determining the fates of hundreds of young athletes. No more eyes tests or gut feelings. No more slipping through the cracks.

COPA STC’s goal is to transform soccer’s subjective approach to player development and transcend its subjective identification in order to objectively help every athlete unlock their full potential. We want to change the game so everyone has a fair shot at their goals.

That leaves us with one final question – what is your goal?

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