Coaches are busy people. They need all the help they can get to save time and maximize their impact on their teams. And when it comes to competition, they also need to find any way they can to gain an edge over the other team.
My experience has been that some coaches are very comfortable with technology and understand how it can help their team. However, there are still many coaches who aren't familiar or comfortable with technology and still use a pencil and a clipboard. Although “old school” methods do work, coaches can make practices, games, and post-game analyses more effective by utilizing technology.
The area of sports technology has developed over the past few years as the EdTech industry has grown. Here are a few apps, sites, and strategies that are worth exploring if you are in the business of sports:
Here are some ideas for communicating with parents about practice times, game schedules, and a variety of other things:
TeamSnap: Parents can download this app and register their player with a coach's team. The coach can then push notifications about schedules and other text communications. It is very easy to use on the parents’ end, and a great way for a coach to organize information all in one place.
Shutterfly: You mean the picture site? Yep, the same one! There is a “team” component to Shutterfly that allows a coach to set up a team site. You can post pictures of course, but there is also a message board, schedule, and the ability to mark whether or not your player will be at practice.
Google Classroom: I know it seems strange to create a classroom for a school sports team, but if all of the students’ other schedules are in there, it makes sense to keep everything in one place. Coaches can post team rules and information, upcoming games, and even any “assignments” that parents and students may need to review, such as a playbook.
Remind: This is another simple, useful way to communicate with parents. It’s easy to set up and free, but doesn’t have a lot of the capabilities of the other sites. It does text directly to parents’ phones, so many parents appreciate this method of communication.
Strategy and Stats
Now that the team is organized, here is how coaches can use technology to help them perform better and track progress:
Projector for coaching: There are many solutions to this, but your classroom projector is a great conceptual tool to show either still shots or game film to the team. The advantage to this is the ability to interact with the images and draw lines to show plays or movement around the field (think of John Madden on his teleprompter during Monday Night Football). These visuals are critical for players to understand where to go and what to do. Even as a coach travels, with a little planning, a portable whiteboard could be an option to use during half-time of a game on the road.
iScore: This is a great site for all kinds of stat keeping, with options for football, baseball, softball, and soccer. It takes a little getting used to because of everything it keeps track of, but it is a great tool and provides really good data after the game. We have used the iScore app on the sideline with an iPad so the stat collection is real-time and can be analyzed at half-time.
MySport: This app is dedicated totally to football—or soccer, as we know it in the US. It has the data/stat tracking component, but also has a number of soccer drill videos that coaches can use to plan practices. It is very comprehensive, but isolated to just the one sport.
Hudl: This is a great site for uploading and sharing videos. Coaches can watch and analyze videos with their team on their display following a game. The other big advantage is how video can be shared with others through the site. Instead of passing around a DVD from coach to coach so they can scout, this site allows simple sharing between coaches—which is a big time-saver.
By using technology better or more efficiently than the other coach, a team may have the slight edge it needs to win the game. Hopefully these resources and ideas can be the ones that help bring home the championship!
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