Coach’s Eye

I had a chance to go out for a coffee this week with @LostFanDan and @janiblen.  We do this periodically and it’s a great opportunity for us to solve all the problems of the world.  It brings back memories of days when we actually did solve problems along with a few other team members.

The conversation is almost always about technology.  We get there, grab coffee, tea, and water, connect our iPads to the wireless and begin the discussions and problem solving process.  Well, two of us got connected to the wireless.  One of us made the mistake of revealing the plans and a wife withheld the iPad at the door saying that I was going for coffee and a chat and not a nerd-a-thon.  I won’t say that I’m bitter but read into my words what you will.

At least I had my smartphone.

We do a great deal of catching up and inevitably we get to our regular show and tell.

Now, to set the stage for the rest of this post, I have to turn the clock back a bit.  On our high school’s football team, I was the offensive co-ordinator.  Part of the job is to draw up plays, detail the blocking assignment, decide who’s pulling, etc.  We had two venues for practice.  The physical part was done after school on the field and the academic part was in a classroom at lunch in the Phys Ed wing of the school.

Going into the week, we would roll out any new plays that we wanted to incorporate and review the existing plays in our package.  The head coach had a philosophy to incorporate new plays every week so the players stayed motivated, had some input on what we were going to do, and just plain make it difficult for opponents to figure out what they would face on game day.  So, I would diagram any new plays, usually on the overhead project.  “OK, left guard you’re going to pull to here, fullback I want you in this hole to pick up the linebackers, etc.”  The piece of art created was just what you’d expect hand-drawn symbols showing who was going where.  We would also review some of the previous game which we had videoed by a student volunteer.  We didn’t have a telestrator to review what we were watching – just my stubby fingers drawing through the dust on the television.

Not terribly high tech.

That’s where @LostFanDan’s sharing really hit home with me.  He did a demonstration of Coach’s Eye and showed how he was using it in Physical Education with his students.  It was genius.  As he would teach a concept, he would record their actions on his iPad and then play it back for them right on the spot.  By itself, that was impressive.  However, the program is even more full featured than that.

You have the ability to play back, to be sure, but also to do so in slow motion.  And, of course, what would an iPad app be without some finger support.  With his finger, he could draw over top of the video to show what was happening.  In the example he showed us, he was showing his students to run by getting off the blocks.  He was able to draw the ideal position of the back and action of the knee, etc.

I was very impressed.  I could see using this as the perfect missing telestrator.  On the football practice field, from behind the running backs, you could record the actions of the linemen and review the blocking scheme real time.  It sure beats drawing on a sheet of paper or in the dirt on the field.  In my teen years, I taught swimming and diving.  I would have easily shelled out money for a technology that would let you review technique just moments after it happened while it was fresh in everyone’s mind.

Beyond the realm of sports, I could see this used to easily demonstrate health and safety videos – lifting heavy objects with the proper technique – use of heavy equipment, this may well be the answer to so many questions.

You can check out Coach’s Eye at their website.  There are plenty of videos handy to see the application in use and users are encouraged to upload their best of the week.  The product is valued at $4.99 and I would think it would become a regular part of any coaching set of tools in short order.

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