By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
Since the National Federation of State High school Association (NFHS) added a rule allowing the use of video during football games in 2013, many coaches have gained the advantage of instant replay.
Integrate a Sideline Replay System
Companies like GameStrat, Insight Replay and HUDL offer sideline replay systems that allow coaches and players to review game film anywhere on the field. All three companies offer packages for varying budgets, but the most basic models include a video camera (a phone or device), and monitors or tablets for viewing.
Some of the higher-budget packages include large monitors, end-zone cameras, tripods, mounts, as well as iPad and iPhone accessories.
“Most teams have two obstacles,” said GameStrat CEO Tunch Akkaya. “The budget is the first one. But even still, some schools can afford but don’t think they have the man power to pull it off. For our system, it only requires one extra person. We can train someone 10 minutes before kickoff, whether it’s a volunteer, parent or JV player.”
A sideline replay system provides coaches with opportunities to give immediate visual aids to players from the sideline as well as review previous plays to determine the opposing team’s tendencies.
“Our biggest selling point is our iPads receive video from the point in time when the play is done,” Akkaya said. “Kids in this generation want to see it instantly. It’s a way to confirm what they’re doing and fix simple mistakes.”
Get a New Perspective with an End Zone Camera
End zone cameras have become more common in the high school game over the last five years, and companies like HUDL, Sideline Power, and HD Endzonecam offer models that allow video to stream directly to devices.
Most systems include an HD camera with a 15- to 25-foot extension tower so that coaches can get an elevated look at formations and techniques. The videographer can film from a tree-stand tripod above ground in the end zone, or control the camera angle with a remote control.
“You can see spacing and gaps so much better from that perspective,” Livonia Franklin (Mich.) coach Chris Kelbert said. “From the side of the field, you can’t see on the far side of the line of scrimmage. The end zone camera gives a really good view of the gaps and where the defense is lining up.”
End zone camera footage is particularly useful when coaching line play. A sideline camera is often trained on an offensive player handling the ball. The end zone camera shows the formation along the lines as well as receivers’ routes and the secondary. The end-zone camera also gives an offensive coach a look at how quickly a quarterback makes decisions in the pocket.
See the Entire Field with a Drone
While the perception is that drones stretch a high school football budget more than sideline replay systems or end zone cameras, drones can provide an aerial vantage point for a lesser cost than other cameras.
“With the drone, you can actually get over the top [of the play] and really see a different vantage point,” South Elgin High (Ill.) coach Patrik Pistorio said. “It’s much clearer. It’s everything we were looking for as a teaching tool for our kids.”
DJI offers the Mavic Air Quadcopter for $799, and many high school coaches are going with that version. Mavic Air’s ActiveTrack intelligent flight mode has been improved to automatically sense multiple subjects, following your subject and keeping it in the frame with more precision, especially during high-motion activities.
Veteran John Curtis Christian (La.) head coach John Curtis has even started to incorporate drones into his program and found the footage can be particularly useful for skill position players.
“I fooled around with drones filming practice a bit last year, and I think it has merit, especially for wide receivers and defensive backs,” Curtis said. “It gives them a better picture of the splits, and we’re going to incorporate that more.”
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