ICT in Ed / Phys Ed / Sports Coaching

An example of integrating tech in sport (Amateur Soccer Club)

I recently got talking to my brother-in-law about the potential of integrating tech into sports training. Being a soccer player and coach he was interested to hear the possibilities and could picture some of the tech I mentioned being useful and even powerful… but, like a lot of teachers/coaches new to tech, he also seemed a bit unsure. As I’ve discussed previously, integrating tech can take some warming up to. It can be pretty overwhelming to begin so answering two key questions is vital:

  • How will this make my job as coach easier not harder?
  • How will this improve the training session or player performance?

After only a brief chat over dinner I said I’d head along to a training session or two and then recommend some possible tech options he could use. There are ample options out there, but effective integration would require consideration of his specific situation. I feel, both in PE teaching and sports coaching, not everything needs tech and using tech for the sake of tech can be counterproductive. Being a sports coach, player and committee member myself I felt the following needed to be considered:

  • Player motivation: Being part of a sports club takes a certain amount of commitment and dedication as players are not only expected to train but also attend club events (ie. fundraisers) and complete certain roles/responsibilities (ie. umpiring or field set up). Every player would have their own personal reasons and motivations to be part of a sports team/club. Tapping into these motivations is important for player development and performance. If coaches are new to integrating tech, using it effectively will most likely require a certain amount of openness, patience and support from players to get it started and working well. If players are not motivated/interested in the tech being used, this openness, patience or support may be lacking.
  • Wants and needs or strengths and weaknesses: Finding tech that will be useful and serve a purpose is essential. The wants and needs of players, coaches and even club should be considered. 
  • Access and confidence: Consideration should be given to player and coach access to, and confidence in using tech (smart phone, iPad, power, TV, heart rate monitors etc etc). The SAMR model is a great place to start for ‘newbies’ to tech integration. Tapping into tech players or coaches are already familiar with would also be beneficial.
  • Routine: Most coaches (like PE teachers) have a set routine at training (ie. how they run a warm up, or the order of drills/activities). Consideration should be given to this – tapping into tech that will fit well into their already exisiting routines.

 

So, I went along to a training session, chatted to the players and chatted more to my brother-in-law. Heres some of the information I gathered.

 

  • Open age range amateur level, average age ~25
  • Proficient skill level (players having played for many years at range of levels)
  • Train twice weekly (Tuesday lighter and Thursday harder session) with game on Sunday
  • Preseason length = 10weeks
  • Reserves and league teams train together
  • Coaches are also team member (‘player coach’)
  • Coach owns iPad and iPhone
  • No Wifi access at clubrooms but good coverage via mobile networks  
  • A typical training routine consists of:
    • Team talk ~5min (Game highlights and lowlights, training outline, injury status etc)
    • Warm up ~15min (jog, static stretches, dynamic stretches)
    • Partner ball drills ~10min (ie. headers, one touch, two touch)
    • Individual skill drills ~10min (ie. shots at goal with defensive pressure)
    • Modified game play  or game play ~20min
    • Cool down & chat about next game ~10min
  • The coach feels the players use soccer as means to maintain personal health and fitness. They enjoy the game, competition and camaraderie of sport and prefer this method of ‘training’ compared to ‘working out at a gym’ or similar. The coach also feels majority of players are adequately fit but expressed desire to improve teams ability to read and react to opponents play. 
  • The players indicated the main reason they want to train is to improve/maintain fitness & health. The majority also feel they are capable of correcting their own skill errors during training drills.
  • In terms of access to tech, all players except one own a smart phone. Most own an iPhone. The coach has iPhone and iPad.  Two players own a heart rate monitor but don’t use. One player has a fit-bit and usually wears it to training. 
  • In terms of confidence using tech it would seem all players and coaches are confident using tech in their day-to-day. A great starting point as they are at least familiar with devices. However, they all seemed unsure as to how tech could be integrated into their training suggesting that starting simple

 

And now we finally get to the fun part – the tech that could be of use in this coach and his players.

  • Fitness testing and monitoring
    • At this particular club the players appear to be motivated by maintaining and improving their fitness so implementing some form of pre-season and mid season fitness testing may be well received. Before tech, undertaking fitness testing was somewhat of an arduous task. These days there are plenty of app options to help make it simpler and relatively stress free.
    • Some apps that support fitness testing include Bleep Test ProArmy Fitness, Fitness TestsFitness Meter & Fitness testing and results.
    • Another option would be to have players (or a club rep) input individuals results into a specifically designed Google form or Google sheet to either record, analyse or track trends over time. With Google forms you can see all results summarised and graphed via ‘responses’ tab, or, use autocrat to produce individual documents that contain players personal results. With Google sheets you can use ‘conditional formatting‘ to colour code results as ‘poor/average/above average’ (with reference to fitness test norms) – this can make the spreadsheet easier to read and highlight fitness concerns.
  • Monitoring intensity (via heart rate) at training 
    • Monitoring the intensity players work could act as a great motivator. Using an app like Polar Team you are able to follow players heart rates on screen in real time – so essentially the coach could push players harder if they weren’t reaching and remaining within the ‘training zone‘. Its also a great way to see if the activities/drills you’ve programmed are actually of adequate intensity – so if the majority of the players weren’t reaching the training zone the coach could adjust to push them harder (ie. increase distance, speed, time etc). Potential downside to this option is the club (or players) would have to invest money to purchase Polar Heart Rate monitors.
  • Giving players feedback on game play
    • The Coach expressed a desire to improve the teams ability to read and react to opponents play. One way to do this (with the aid of tech) would be to use the ‘team talk’ at the start (or end) of training to view and debrief some snippets of game footage. As time is precious at training perhaps this could be done whilst players are also stretching? Using video footage for feedback can be a real game changer – however – I feel this option is only really suitable for the coach/club willing to dedicate at least some time and energy to learning how to use the tech properly, and planning how they’ll integrate it at training.
    • Hudl is a free app that allows you to playback skill or game videos in multiple slow motion speeds and frame-by-frame. You can use drawing tools to measure or highlight form; compare two videos; create feedback videos by adding drawings and audio commentary; and share  videos with athletes, coaches or friends. 
  • Collecting and using statistics 
    • For the coach that is also players it can be difficult to give the half time address when you’re trying to catch your own breath. Allocating players sitting on the bench to recording some simple statistics can help. Stats can give you an ‘easy’ talking point at breaks, plus, open the door to setting team goals relating to these stats (which can also a great team motivator). These goals and/or stats can be discussed at training during the ‘team talk’. A simple statistical app can act as a ‘substitute’ to tallying stats via pen and paper, or, can provide functional improvement of this task by increasing speed of recording and automatically tallying stat totals.
    •  DartFish is a simple yet effective app for those that want to dabble in stats without getting too ‘bogged down’ in them. With DartFish you can set 9 to 30 statistical events (ie. error or gain) to collect data about. Downsides, DartFish doesn’t allow you to collect individual statistics (ie. put a stat to a players name) and doesn’t produce any summary graphs and pie charts of final stats (ie. merely creates a CSV file that can be imported for further analysis if coach so desires).
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One thought on “An example of integrating tech in sport (Amateur Soccer Club)

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook – May 2016 Edition – drowningintheshallow

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