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Technology Steps Up – Aided by recent rules changes, tech companies now give coaches valuable new tools to analyze games in real time.

by: AFM Editorial Staff
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Aided by recent rule changes, tech companies now give coaches valuable new tools to analyze games in real time.

For many years, technology has been an integral part of coaching. From the advent of game film to the development of sideline communications to the introduction of today’s sophisticated online video services, those in the technology arena have strived to keep up with the needs of coaches and utilize the latest in high tech innovations.

Now, by virtue of an important rule change in 2013 that is just now being fully realized, high school coaches everywhere are able to use video and software technology to analyze plays, formations and situations directly from the sidelines during games.

Here’s the new rule from the National Federation of State High School Associations: USE OF COMMUNICATION DEVICES EXPANDED (1-6): The committee has expanded the use of communication devices to allow coaches, players and nonplayers to use any form of available communication technology during authorized conferences outside the 9-yard marks on the sidelines and during the halftime intermission period. Use of communication devices by players except during conferences outside the 9-yard marks continues to be prohibited. (Note: the 9-yard marks on the field are where the yard numbers are traditionally placed.)

The rule has been interpreted to allow coaches and players to not only view actual game video during the games, but to also use devices and software to provide additional analysis to the video footage. So a simple rule change has created a whole new landscape in high school football.

Naturally, there are technology companies that have sought to take advantage of the rule change and help coaches by providing new tools that can be of great assistance in analyzing plays as they happen on the field. With proper training and a little practice, coaches will have the most sophisticated high tech coaching tools ever developed at their fingertips.

We asked several prominent technology companies to explain how their products work and what advantages they can provide to high school coaches.

BW Software
Bruce Williams • Owner

Game Data Live is a software product that coaches use to gather and view play data, video and photos during a football game. Game Data Live runs on Apple’s iPad tablet computer. Play data input uses the iPad’s touch interface to gather up to 20 variables per play. Users tap on scrollable lists to enter play data fast without keyboarding.  Video or photos can be captured with the iPad’s camera.  MPEG-4 video from a camcorder can be synchronized with the play data.  Play data, photos and video shot by iPads can be shared with multiple iPad users running Game Data Live over a WiFi network. The video can be viewed on the iPad’s screen or on an attached TV or projector.  The play data can be exported as a data file and uploaded to Hudl.  Reports providing game stats, player stats and team tendencies can be viewed, printed or emailed. iPad accessories can provide weatherproofing, tripod mounts or a telephoto lens.

Game Data Live provides efficient live game review. The play data is used to find significant plays for instant video review. Coaches adjust their game plans and correct player techniques from the video review with less discussion. Players stay focused when they are off the field. Game Data Live also works as a viewer for MPEG-4 video from your camcorder. You can synchronize camcorder quality video with play data and view in slow motion at half time, after the game or at practice without network access.

Coaches often need a video review to determine what actually happened in a play. They have time for review when their players are off the field - usually between possessions and at halftime.  With Game Data Live, they watch video that is already on their iPad so there are no delays.  They use play data to choose which plays to watch. Their game data and video can be delivered by someone on foot or by WiFi. WiFi delivers faster, giving coaches more time for review.

Game Data Live can be used with or without a WiFi network so you can start out simple and inexpensive ($39.99).  You can add your own network with off the shelf components at market prices when you’re ready. That optional network can include a standard WiFi router, a directional antenna, a shared flash drive and optional remote access point(s).  For $39.99 you can SneakerNet the first half to the locker room at halftime.  You can SneakerNet iPad video to the sideline after a possession change. With a high performance network, you can WiFi within the press box and to the sideline. SneakerNet is free and very reliable.

The coaches’ time during a game is their most valuable resource. My local coaches want to focus on the game when their players are on the field and review their performance while they’re on the sidelines. There is also a limited time window during halftime.

Creative coaches come up with their own solutions.  The high school coaches that I work with used iPads to shoot photos and video using Apple’s standard Photos app. JV coaches and freshmen players operate the iPads and run them to the sideline.  Other coaches use Apple’s texting app to send video to the sideline wirelessly.  I’ve heard of coaches trying to use GoPro cameras to wirelessly send video to the sideline.

I believe coaches want an efficient way to review video of plays during a game.  Along with the video, they need some play data to quickly guide them to the significant plays. They would prefer that it be effortless and inexpensive.

HD Endzone Cam
Kyle Cooper • Co-Owner

HDEndzonecam LLC was started in 2010 by two Nebraska high school football coaches who saw the need for an affordable, high quality system to record and view end zone footage. Coaching the offensive and defensive line, we focus daily on the use of proper alignments and line techniques, so we developed our HD Endzone Camera system to create a coaching tool that would help our players maximize their efforts on the football field.

We decided that we would take the initiative to create our own system that was not only affordable, but would offer the highest quality camera and tower system on the market. Four years later, through constant trial and development, we have been able to provide an HD Endzone Camera system to many of the top ranked schools throughout the United States and even Canada.

In our opinion, the three biggest technological advancements in coaching high school football in the past decade have been the use of Hudl, end zone cameras, and just recently, the ability to use instant replay on the sideline.Through our use of Hudl, we were able to take our regular sideline view and intercut it with our end zone camera view, to give us a distinct scouting advantage in looking at our opponents, but allowing us to self-scout for tendencies as well. 

Although end zone cameras have been in existence for over 20 years, their use in the high school setting has started to evolve in the last five years. With advancements in high definition camera technology, the HD Endzonecam system uses one of the top commercial HD cameras, a 19” HD Monitor, and melds it with a strong, durable tower, giving high school coaches the professional quality at an affordable price that they are looking for.

With our HD Endzonecam system, coaches can pull up high definition video to allow them to quickly view alignments and to make in-game adjustments each series instead of having to wait until halftime, giving those coaches with access to end zone video a distinct advantage over their competition. Better data allows for better analysis, plain and simple.

In the past, it was nearly impossible to get the necessary information needed to break down film from the sideline view alone. Once you break down film utilizing the addition of the end zone view, you will understand that analyzing film will never be the same. Using the 1080p high definition footage from our HD Endzonecam commercial quality camcorder, there are no mistaking alignments, techniques, and individual tendencies even in the most poorly lit facilities. Besides allowing coaches and players to break down film more efficiently, it has proven to be an invaluable asset for student athletes to help showcase their abilities to college recruiters.

Our HD Endzonecam tower has four legs (quad-pod) with a 96” footprint, providing our system with the ability to stand up to the most adverse conditions in the midwest and beyond. No need for stakes, sandbags, or other unnecessary weights to help stabilize the tower. The HD Endzonecam tower has adjustable legs that allow set-up on uneven terrain. The ability to adjust the legs also allows for a much smaller footprint to be used in a gym setting for use in volleyball, basketball, or wrestling. It is also a great addition for filming school assemblies or musical/play productions. While it boasts a 20-foot extended height, it retracts to just over 6 feet and is extremely portable. Not to mention it is much more economical and much safer than a scissor lift or other heavy machinery used by many schools to accomplish the same goal of filming events from an elevated viewpoint.

Our tower is not only unique in design but also in functionality. We designed the HD Endzone Camera system to be simple to set up with our new “plug and play” design in our water-resistant tower. With most schools utilizing coaches or student managers to film practices and games, our sturdy but simple remote controls for both filming and pan/tilt offer simplicity with functionality. The use of HDMI connections allows for the clearest high definition images and can also be used in conjunction with many of the new instant replay and streaming systems. Once video is collected, simply connect to a computer for uploading and intercutting into Hudl, and you are ready to take your program to the next level.

Heather Hennings • Business Development

SkyCoach allows you to view instant replay video in the box or on the field within seconds after being filmed. The number one benefit is that it is an education tool to help players receive immediate feedback so that they can make changes during a game.  It is also a game changer in that it allows coaches to study what the other team or their own team is doing and make adjustments during the game.

The speed and simplicity of SkyCoach truly sets it apart from other solutions.  From the beginning, our mission has always been to improve coaches’ lives.  SkyCoach knows that coaches do not have a lot of time in between series to review instant replay so we knew that we had to ensure that they could get to it quickly, so that they can operate more efficiently despite new technology being added to the mix.

SkyCoach has three recording options: record with an iPhone, an iPad or use your existing camera system. While recording the play, you take a picture of the formation and tag the play with simple codes like offense/defense, series, and big play indicator, all with the touch of your finger. You can record from as many angles as you want.

SkyCoach offers three playback options: watch on an iPhone, an iPad or pair an iPhone with a television. Coaches and players can watch the actual video of the play to pinpoint exactly what happened or plan how to attack on the next series. You also have the ability to rewind, fast forward, and zoom to ensure you are getting the most out of watching your video.

It is extremely easy to integrate SkyCoach into what coaches already are doing. Our simplest solution requires no additional set up- just 2 iOS devices. We have other options that require a bit more set up if they want to use no internet or an existing camera. However, Team SkyCoach will ensure that the coaches know how to easily set up prior to the game. Once in game, SkyCoach is incredibly easy to use.

SkyCoach has options. We know that there is no one size fits all solution – which is why we offer different set ups based on needs and preferences. We offer all the features other companies do and more. Additionally, we have built resiliency into SkyCoach. Regardless of anything happening to the network (both internet and a local access network can have issues), no play will ever be missed. We also offer an event feature so that teams can record multiple events at once. For instance, if during practice, a coach wants to film QB Drills while another wants to film O-Line drills, they can set up two different practice events within the same login and their film will only go to that event.  Finally, and probably most importantly, is SkyCoach’s ability to real time tag and for real time collaboration.  With other companies, you have to film then tag and then the video gets sent to the field.  With SkyCoach, you film and tag at the same time and the film gets sent.  If anyone on any device logged into the account changes a tag, it changes on every single device logged in.  You can also see multiple angles from one device – which is a differentiator from some competitors.

Our pricing varies between $1000-2000. Overall, with SkyCoach you are guaranteed more bang for your buck.  Also, between now and July 31st- anyone can download the app from the App Store and try it for free!

Insight Replay
Graham Clarke • Co-Founder and CEO

The Reveal Sideline Replay system give athletes and coaches immediate video at any venue. Immediate video feedback helps athletes improve their skills, improves communication between athletes and coaches and gives athletes more responsibility for their own progress and development.

During games, immediate video feedback allows coaches to see what is happening on the field in real-time. It also improves communication among coaches. All coaches can see the same video clip of the action on field. Coaches can then adjust tactics and strategy based on what is actually happening.

The Reveal system has three core features: Capture, Organize, and Distribute video. Reveal makes it easy to capture video from iPads, iPhones, Android devices, and video cameras using both wired and wireless capture devices. The Reveal End Zone Kit makes it easy to capture video from end zone tower cameras.

Reveal organizes video by venues and events, date and time, athlete and custom tags (down, distance, play, wind speed, jump, score, etc.)

Reveal provides access to video on-demand at local venues and in the cloud. Users can access Reveal through any device with a modern web browser (HTML5). Reveal lets teams publish video clips to the cloud in real-time. This has been used successfully for remote coaching as well as providing fans with instant replay on their mobile devices.

Reveal helps coaches in several important ways. Immediate video feedback improves communication between athletes and coaches. Showing athletes exactly what you are talking about lets the coach make a bigger impact with fewer words and less ambiguity. Integrating video feedback into practices reduces the need for video review after practice. This saves valuable time for athletes and coaches. Reveal makes it easy to organize video in real-time.

Reveal also helps coaches communicate with players more effectively. Immediate video feedback fundamentally changes the way coaches and athletes communicate. Instead of the coach trying to explain to an athlete what they just did, both coach and athlete are able to see what the athlete did. The conversation is precise, efficient, and less susceptible to misunderstanding that can impede the athlete/coach relationship.

Giving athletes visual feedback while their kinesthetic memory (feeling) is fresh helps them develop more confidence in what they feel while practicing and competing. Athletes that have more confidence tend to perform better and make better decisions on the field.  What we hear from athletes at all levels (Olympic teams to youth and high school teams), is that seeing what they just did while the kinesthetic feeling is fresh helps them confirm what was good, what was bad, and helps them focus on what is most important to them.

Reveal is very easy to use, especially for teams that already film practices and games. Our systems come pre-configured. Setup takes less than five minutes.

We offer several wireless camera options that allow the video camera to be easily moved around the field or venue. Reveal also supports uploading video directly from iPhones and iPads, making it easy for coaches to capture special situations, like the view down the line of scrimmage, or focus on the place kicker.

Reveal was developed as a tool to help the US Snowboard Team and US Ski Team. We work closely with some of the most successful Olympic coaches and sports scientists to continually improve the Reveal platform. The results have been very good. Teams using our systems are having great success: 13 medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, numerous medals at the Winter X-Games over past 4 years, World Championship medals, and most recently, 4 FIS World Cup Crystal Globes in 2015.

Reveal is quickly being recognized by the International sports science community as the leading system for immediate video feedback available today.

Within the context of sideline replay for high school football, Reveal is a proven system that has been used at venues around the world. Reveal uses cutting edge real-time technology to ensure that all client devices are updated simultaneously when a change is made on any device. Reveal supports video capture from multiple sources, including wireless capture devices, direct wireless integration with some cameras, upload from iPads, iPhones, and Android devices, and wired video capture devices.

Reveal systems are completely self-contained and portable. They do not need internet or cellular data and can run on battery power for over six hours. The portability and flexibility of Reveal makes it easy to use as during games or practice.

Insight Replay is working directly with US Sports Video, the leading manufacturer of endzone camera systems, to provide a turn key solution that will give teams instant access to video from their endzone tower in the press box and on the sidelines.

U.S. Sports Video
Mike Bokulich • Founder and Owner

The new rule change that allows viewing game video during the game has opened the door for young computer savvy people to enter our football arena. Many schools have coaches and students that have from a very young age been brought up with computers, laptops, ipads and the internet, now working together as a school project some have developing various ways to use current technology to help their football team.  Some of these school programs have led to enterprising entrepreneurs offering their system packages to other coaches and schools. With current technology there are many ways to accomplish the goal of viewing video during the game. It’s interesting to see it develop.

Over the years, coaches in the press box and sideline have provide voice feedback during to game to allow for adjustments and game strategy. Video printers have been used by NFL teams in the past to get game shots of formations and these video pictures were sent to the sideline for coaches and player to evaluate. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Seeing is believing and in coaching viewing film and video has been a great training tool over the years.  Being able to view video instantly during the game will provide certain advantages if used within limits and the program has enough players and coaches to have the time to do so without taking away from the game flow and game plan.

U.S. Sports Video has for over 25 years been providing End Zone Camera systems to athletic programs.  With over 4,000 systems in the field it is of great advantage to have our elevated systems work with the various replay systems.  During the past year, we have been contacted by a number of the new replay companies hitting the market.  For value added with our systems we feel it is very important that the replay system be able to use all of the current cameras provided by the various manufacturers. As with our long time philosophy, we also feel that it is important to have a complete “Plug and Play” system integrated package and to follow the old “KISS PRINCIPLE” – keep it simple stupid! Earlier this spring, Graham Clarke, founder of Insight Replay, visited our corporate offices in Amherst Ohio.  Graham and his team have a head start in the technology since his replay system and software have been effectively used by our US Olympic teams. During Grahams visit, we operated our SkyHawk, Raven and SideWinder end zone camera systems with the Insight Replay high power wireless equipment and software.  We were very impressed with the transmitting range and being able to use the system without need of the internet or cellular data.


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