Co-Curricular/Coaching: The fact that an iPad takes up less space than a clipboard and a whistle, has the processing power of a laptop, and is able to record video in full HD makes it an astonishingly practical and versatile coaching assistant.
It’s something that only institutes of sport and cashed up football franchises used to be able to offer, but Apps such as Ubersense, Coach’s Eye or CoachMyVideo let any teacher video record, play back, slow down, break down, annotate and add audio commentary to whatever it is your students do, from golf to basketball, swimming to martial arts.
So you can record a student serving an ace in full HD, then scrub back and forth to find the instant they release the ball for the ball toss, and put a large red circle around where their feet are at that time. Scrub forward now to the apex of the ball toss, and place a blue line to clearly show the height. Use the built-in protractor to determine the angle of their arm as the serve is made. Then put all of that ace-serve analysis side by side with an annotated serve from the same student that was a mid-net high fault…you won’t need to say a word; your student will be too busy drawing the conclusions you need for themselves.
Students love to feel like superstars; using the iPad’s built in HD video camera and iMovie it’s easy to put together a highlights package of the Plays of The Day. Add some commentary—or have students add some commentary—then post the result to the team’s website or Facebook page.
At the end of the season, you can similarly compile highlights reels for each student, or a promotion video for the sport itself.
In the meantime, there’s no faster way to get a training session off to a high energy start than for students to see the very best of what they produced in their last game.
…and bloopers reels
Dropped catches, fumbled passes, missed tackles, air shots, shoelace-trips, misreads…the idea is to ensure that everyone on the team appears looking like an idiot at some stage. Again, use iMovie to edit your footage, add plenty of slow motion replays and a soundtrack (Yackety Sax…actually, no, go epic with something like the opening movement of Carmina Burana), some captions, and you’ve got a brilliant tool for ensuring that nobody takes mistakes too hard—whether it’s their own, or somebody else’s.
Virtual newspaper report
If your school is not wild about the idea of videos of students being posted, you can instead take photos during, and then assemble a written newspaper-style summary of gameday. Again, you might leave it to students to do the actual writing, using either a program like Pages, or simply adding voiceovers to a series of stills using StoryRobe.
Another option is to use StripDesigner to turn the entire game into a graphic novel style comic strip, with each frame featuring a different photo from the game, and captions added as needed.
On TV, you’ll see a lot of professional teams gather around an iPad during timeouts—using apps like Tacticsboard Playbook HD you can explain tactics by adding objects to a virtual field to represent players, drawing lines, making notes, and then save any plays you create, so you can reference them again at training. The touchscreen is perfectly suited to this, as you can simply move things about with your finger—while you’re saying “run wide, then straighten here”, you can trace with your finger exactly where you mean on the field diagram.
Better still, whatever you come up with is readily shareable, which means that you can create plans at home, or have gameday-eve rethinks, and then email the updates to players.
The app supports a surprisingly wide range of popular and not-so-well-known sports, from basketball to Australian Rules football; water polo to hurling, so chances are whatever you coach is covered.
Scoring and Stats
The tap-to-enter interface combined with the sheer portability of the iPad makes it perfectly suited to capturing game stats. You’ll need to search for the apps that support your sport, but an example of what’s possible is Hoopstats for basketball—it allows for everything from realtime stats for the current game or entire season through to shot charts to track made and missed shots, together with tracking for substitutions…if you’re a basketball fan, there’s very little you could want to know about a game that you can’t easily record.
My own passion is for cricket—possibly the most stat-obsessed game in the world—covered nicely with a scoring app called nxCricket-HD, offering all the graphs, wagon wheels and ball-by-ball stats that you’d expect from television coverage, but can easily be handled by a parent on the sidelines.
It’s beyond the scope of this book to look at what’s possible for every sport, but unless your particular sport is only ever played during full lunar eclipses by left-handed first borns in one small village in Tuvalu—and even then—there should be an app somewhere that opens up a whole new world of stats and possibilities for your team.
Ideas for Drills
Your training sessions can only be as good as the drills that power them; if your sport is football (of the soccer kind), then there’s an astonishing app called i-Drills Soccer that not only allows you to visually plan out drills, but is a vast and growing library of drills contributed by the thousands of coaches around the world who use the app. Some of these coaches are running their local under 9s, others have coached national teams at world cups—it’s an astonishing resource that has also recently been re-released for rugby coaching, and hopefully will be replicated in other sports.
Apart from the utility of having such a comprehensive and accessible encyclopedia of ideas, if you come up with a brilliant drill of your own, you can then share it…who knows, it might end up being used by Real Madrid.
Much of team management is administrative, which is always easier on computer than with mountains of paper…save for the fact that it’s not always practical to have your computer with you at games and training sessions. Now the portability of your iPad means that you can always have that information to hand, and add to it at any time.
So which apps might help you with this? You could mock something up using Numbers, or custom build your own database in Bento (which is what I’ve done for my own taekwondo students) or Tapforms but depending on your activity, you might be doing a lot of unnecessary work—apps such as TeamSnap or Soccer Dad have been designed specifically to manage sporting teams, and have everything most sports would ever need.
You can set up rosters and schedules, send notifications to team members, track scores, store photos (to learn names faster), show ground locations on a map, manage multiple teams, keep track of volunteers…your iPad can do the heavy lifting for just about every aspect of running a team.
Even if you don’t need that sort of swiss army knife of team management, you’ll still need to be able to take the roll. Check out the chapter on Attendance to see some of the options.
Managing groups within a squad
Experienced coaches know that creating groups for training drills is not as simple as randomly allocating everyone a number. There are students who shouldn’t work together, there are absent students who leave gaps, there are issues of perceived fairness (Hey! How come all the strong players are in group 2?), and—particularly if the allocation was arbitrary—the problem of then trying to remember just who was in which team.
Make My Groups allows coaches to instantly and intelligently create groups, and then manage them afterwards. It separates students who shouldn’t be working together, balances teams, omits students who are absent, and allows you to keep score, make notes, and then save the teams in case you need to resume later.
And best of all, the students can’t blame you for the groups that emerge…it’s not my fault, you can tell them. Blame my iPad 🙂