Technology freeing high school coaches to do more

Hudl Assist, an automated software programs, is one of many applications high school coaches can use to save time.
Hudl Assist, an automated software programs, is one of many applications high school coaches can use to save time.

Credit: Courtesy of Hudl

Credit: Courtesy of Hudl

Automated software breaks down video, tracks stats and provides analysis

Jason Harris, athletic director and girls basketball coach at Rome High, decided before the season to invest in an automated software application for all athletic programs to reduce the time each team’s staff spent breaking down film for stats and scouting reports.

He went with VidSwap, an add-on you can purchase when signing up to broadcast over the NFHS Network. As part of the onboarding process with the network, schools are given Pixellot cameras for the gyms and stadiums. Pixellot acquired VidSwap in December 2019 and has been offering the technology since.

“It saves a ton of time,” Harris said. “I don’t have to delegate coaching duties to hours of breaking down film. We can use our resources to prepare for the next game. If coaches have to look at film all day, we don’t have as much time. (VidSwap) has cut our time completely in half.”

In addition to the NFHS Network’s partnership with Pixellot/VidSwap, another major player in high school basketball is Hudl, known primarily as a recruiting database where players can post their highlights. In 2015, Hudl began offering the automated software add-ons Hudl Assist, which charts data, tracks stats and provides analytical reports based on video, and Hudl Focus, which provides live, in-game image captures for coaches to study and make adjustments on the fly.

Nationwide, 14,800 schools use Hudl Assist, including 475 in Georgia, according to a Hudl representative. Pixellot president David Shapiro said roughly 2,000 schools nationwide use VidSwap.

“We started with basketball, primarily because there are a ton of games each week,” Hudl vice president and general manager Greg Nelson said. “There’s not as much time to prepare, so we created automated tagging for different data from game video. Before, coaches would have to chart the time of a play on a clipboard, then manually search the video.”

With automated insights, coaches can tag data and sort it any number of ways. For example, a coach can search for all team assists or 3-point attempts, transition lay-ups and so on. Coaches can find tendencies to create more effective scouting reports and better see which players thrive in certain game situations.

“I can quickly pull up 3-4 clips from a game for each player and show them what they could have done differently,” Harris said.

In addition to breaking down game video, the software also is effective in breaking down practice video. DVSport specializes in real-time video analysis for games and practices, and its client list includes NBA teams. The company is testing its basketball software with high schools in Pittsburgh, where DVSport is based. It hopes to eventually roll out its services to high schools nationwide.

“Coaches can film a practice or game, and the video will be sent directly to their device in real time,” DVSport vice president of support services Craig Davis said. “This greatly reduces the learning curve because you can correct what a player did wrong immediately.”

Coaches also can exchange scouting reports with their peers. Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools purchased an exchange package from VidSwap in which all video is broken down and shared among the 25 member schools.

From the coronavirus pandemic standpoint, video exchange can circumvent traveling to games for scouting reports and help players get noticed in recruiting circles in a time when scouts are not able to attend as many games.

Pricing can vary based on each school’s needs. For example, maybe a school wants to purchase the product for only select sports, as opposed to all athletic programs. There are different products available. Schools can expect to spend in the thousands.

Rome, for example, purchased a $3,500 package from VidSwap that covers all athletic programs through the school year, and the payments are split, with a share due as each individual sport begins.

Hudl and VidSwap have ambitious long-term goals. Hudl would like to see its automated technology eventually replace humans at the official scorer’s table. VidSwap is aiming for its product to be used for all sports and not just at the high school level, but other recruiting-type youth events, such as AAU basketball.

The technology’s impact is making life easier for the coaches.

“It allows us, as a school, to do things we previously didn’t have the capability of doing,” Harris said.

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