Archive for October, 2015

Apps for Coaching- Update

Posted: October 12, 2015 in Tech in coaching

Since I last wrote an article re apps to use in coaching there have been a number of developments, new apps, new devices and new capabilities. At school we have a great new set up in the gym with an apple tv connected to a projector meaning I can easily and quickly connect my iPad and project my screen into the gym.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.14.25 AM

This gym setup gives great scope for Apps that delay video. I have discussed these before with my favourite being Bust a Move Video Delay, this splits the screen into four with each part of the screen being able to set up with a different time delay.

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A limitation of Bust a Move is the lack of being able to record the screen. As such while a student/ athlete is able to watch the footage back there is no ability to save that video. ReplayCam will offer the same ability to delay the feed (although only on one screen) but additionally you are able to record the footage. With the new set up in the Gym I have been using this App extensively, recording students gameplay and them viewing the screen to watch their own possessions of the ball.

Ubersense and Coaches Eye have both had extensive developments . Ubersense has had a change of name and is now known as hudltechnique. Check out this article as to best practice when using hudltechnique: Top 10 ways to Technique

As well as acquiring Ubersense and changing the name to Technique, HUDL have also purchased SportsCode and GameBreaker programmes. This may well lead to some really interesting developments, imagine being able to take footage from SportsCode directly into Technique (Ubersense), I am looking forward to the innovations which look likely to happen in this area

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GamePlan is another app that has been extensively used, initially in the USA, but this year has been adopted by many Super Rugby teams. GamePlan gives you the ability to create a bespoke portal for your team. As an administrator you have complete control over what you can share with your players. The app is password protected with the administrator having the ability to control and revoke access should a player lose their iPad. You can share with each of your squad footage from your most recent games as well as schedule details, wellness details and any other documents you choose to share with the team.

As well as the ability to share footage you can add video that has been coded and your players have the ability to add their own comments, as such this becomes an interactive vehicle between players and coaches and all delivered straight to their iPads.

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Coachseek ( is a really interesting app for computer and iOS devices that organises your coaching business. As a coach this gives you the ability to take online bookings and payments. As such your schedule is up to the minute organised and any potential athletes looking for coaching services can instantly see when you are free. The app can take payment from athletes and will also give reminders and take rolls for you. As a New Zealand company they are easily contactable for support and have a lot of success, particularly in monetising coachingbusinesses. For individual coaches who are looking to put their business together I believe this service is well worth a look.

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Finally I really encourage every coach to have a look at This platform is completely free and gives you the ability to share clips with your players, once you upload a game you can use the online interface to create clips and then to initiate coaching conversations with your players. In the FAQ on the website they guarantee that this site will remain free and I am sure it will be a real asset for coaching and initiating coaching conversations with your players. Check out the screenshot below, the coach has taken clips and then shared it with the players whose icons you can see below each clip – it is well worth having a look.

As you can see there have been a number of app developments and as with everything in technology it is a continuously moving feast. On September 9th new iPhones, a new Apple TV and possibly a new iPad were announced, as ever the app developers will then begin work on creating yet more apps! Please do not hesitate to share any more apps that you think I should check out – I can be contacted via the links below.




Posted: October 12, 2015 in Tech in coaching

Siliconcoach Pro 8

Siliconcoach is a New Zealand example of excellence in technology in sport. A real forerunner of video analysis the company was founded in 1997, and is still based in NZ. They have a very wide scope for their products including rehabilitation, PE teachers biomechanics analysis, bike fitting and gait analysis as well as traditional video analysis.

They have recently announced that Siliconcoach Pro 8 is shortly to be released with some exciting new features. In particular I enjoy the ability of the programme to take video from every source and easily upload it to a central web page for analysis. This addresses one of the key issues that many people have of reliance on a certain platform, with Siliconcoach you are able to use an Android, IOS as well as video cameras, GoPros even a still camera with video capability. This video footage can then be uploaded to a central web page for analysis and easily shared within your ‘zone’.

silicon coach1

A zone is simply your domain for sharing your analysis video with your team or athletes. As you can see from the diagram you have the ability to open your analysis up to as many or as few of your athletes as you would like. This can be very useful for a team discussion or perhaps one on one feedback with certain athletes.

Athletes and Coaches can then contribute to an online discussion around this analysis. This creates a situation in which a video is being used as the basis for discussion and can be massively valuable. It is often easier to illustrate to players your frustration as a coach by this use of video, this will give your athletes a new appreciation of the game.

It also fits really well with the NZ coach approach as players can make their own analysis in a process of guided discovery instead of the coach being the all knowing oracle!

As well as the online capabilities of Siliconcoach live and the ability to begin an in-depth analysis session via an online forum there is also improved video analysis tools in the Pro 8 version. For clarity these two products are designed to be used side by side, using the pro tools to do some in- depth analysis which can then be viewed when you are physically with your athletes or uploaded into the cloud capabilities of SC Live. Pro8 can capture HD video which means you have top quality video on which to base your analysis. Depending on the hardware capabilities of your computer you will also be able to import dual HD feeds giving you the ability to analyse from different viewpoints.


Coupled with some very advanced measurement tools that give you the ability to measure distances and angles on your video and drawing tools to illustrate your analysis to your athletes this creates a very powerful tool indeed. The ability to move the video on Frame by Frame means that it is easy to isolate deviations form the perfect technique, particularly when synched and viewed alongside a perfect model . This ability to compare videos also means that you are able to illustrate to your athletes progressions they have made by using an earlier video with the present day one. This can be a massive motivation for all athletes.

A new feature in Siliconcoach Pro 8 is the incorporation of the Time warp feature into the programme. Previously this was a separate feature but it is now incorporated into the programme. This gives you the ability to delay a video feed for a specified amount of time meaning an athlete can perform a skill and then come and review that skill alongside you.

As well as these features you have the security of an active support forum with the ability to make contact to somebody in New Zealand to offer help in ensuring you get the best use of the product. For any further information about Siliconcoach Pro 8 you should contact Graeme Burborough who will be able to discuss your individual needs.

This is certainly a product that I use both within my school teaching, it is particularly useful for NCEA Physical Education, and in my coaching. Timewarp was actually the first time in a coaching session that I used the tool of video directly with my athletes, and I still believe this is a massively powerful tool and one that every coach should be comfortable in using.

Jim Dickin

Coaching with GoPro

Posted: October 12, 2015 in Tech in coaching

Coaching with the GoPro



As coaches we spend a lot of time trying to put ourselves into the minds of our athletes and helping them to see the range of possibilities. Even with traditional match day video we can illustrate to them the options that were available and talk to them about the actions they chose but normally not until after the event. A potential coaching aid is the GoPro cameras and other similar POV cameras.

The great thing about the GoPro is the huge range of mounts that enable the camera to be used in almost every conceivable situation. From the end of a surfboard to the handlebars of a bike there are mounts available which mean we as coaches can gain meaningful footage, in US sports a lot of coaches have made use of helmet mounts to gain the athletes point of view. This page gives a range of GoPro accessories- even down to a dog harness!


This means that the GoPro can become a useful tool for an athlete and coach, in a range of different sports, particularly those in which it is difficult for the coach to have input during the event. The GoPro can be viewed wirelessly on your tablet or phone so the coach can get a real time view of what the player is seeing. Have a look at this outstanding footage of a downhill mountain bike race.

While in the first instance it is great just to be able to view the talent and skill that goes into this sort of activity this would also be a great resource for a skilled coach – did your athlete take the correct line down the course?, where could he gain speed? Should he be approaching jumps faster and more aggressively?

The potential value of this footage is reinforced by more GoPro movies from the USA Skiing team. They can be seen on this YouTube clip using footage from chest harness, a follow cam and views from the side. They are reviewing this footage using an iPad which makes the footage even more relevant as it can facilitate a discussion between the coach and the player. There is even a portion of the footage where the coach is giving the skier real time feedback via radio as he reviews the footage wirelessly from her GoPro, from a coaches point of view he is able to have a real time conversation with his athlete, rather than wait until the bottom of the slope.

These two examples from Skiing and Mountain Biking are just some of the many different possibilities. The limitation really for every coach is their own imagination and of course the rules of your particular activity. Certainly activities such as rowing and cycling could make great use of real time feedback in this way, imagine as a coach being able to see what your First Five can see or footage from a hockey or football goalmouth.

Further innovations using Point of view cameras are the recent ref cam experiments in Rugby, imagine as a coach being able to get this footage in game.

An American programme has put together a montage of their You Tube footage for the season, including coaching drills and speeches from their coaches. It is great to be able to see the player’s point of view and spot the coachable moments from their GoPro footage. The shot used at the beginning of this article was of some catching drills , the photo below is a moment in the video where the coach urges the player to “run the alley” .


As well as using the Gopro as an all important coaching tool and a really innovative way to link with your athletes I believe that there are potentially real benefits to be taken here for coach education. From asking the American coach in the previous footage why he found it necessary to grab his players facegrill to reviewing your own sessions with your athletes alongside, with a mentor or even exposing yourself to the merciless YouTube comments section if you are especially brave.

Even more exciting and from the realms of science fiction is the AirDog A drone which follows any person wearing a specific wristband from a predetermined height and angle and to which a GoPro can be mounted. Imagine using this to review a coaching session or even the particular work rate of an athlete.

I would love to have contact from any coaches who have used the GoPro successfully in their own coaching and welcome any input either via email or twitter on the addresses below.

Jim Dickin


GPS – Big Brother is watching you!

We now have technology that allows us to monitor our athletes in every way! Via the use of GPS technology coupled with a heart rate band we can monitor their average speed, maximum speed, distance run, altitude and heart rate. VX Sport is a New Zealand company who produce GPS technology used by many of the major sports teams around the world. This technology is commonplace now for professional sports and contributes hugely to the televisual experience when watching sports. It is now within the reach of coaches and athletes throughout all levels of sport and can make a real positive difference to the information you have on your athletes.


More accurate information for the coach should mean that you can design sessions to be specific to your players. The aim of a training session often is to replicate the demands of the game or race that your athlete is engaging in – even in some cases to make training more difficult than that game situation. However, particularly in team sports it is often easier for athletes to coast within sessions and this can go unnoticed by a conditioning coach dealing with a number of athletes. GPS units ensure that the coasting athlete is spotted and can then be provided with accurate data as to what level they are achieving at.  The players certainly get the sensation of there being no hiding place, while conditioning coaches are able to scientifically monitor workloads. Have a look at the video below to see how the Hurricanes are using GPS in their training and in their games. In particular they monitor total distance and total distance at speed, players are even running extra shuttles to get their weekly distance up!


The two field reports below are taken from two First XV rugby players performing exactly the same session, a half-back and a prop. Heart rate monitors were not added to the athletes for this session. However, we can see the top and average speeds of each player and also tackle the prop as to why he only managed 4195 metres compared to the other player! As the season progresses I will be able to compare these training figures with in game stats and adjust the training loads accordingly.



Perhaps a more useful view uses google earth imagery and is excellent to pass to the athlete for a visual representation of the speeds and distance he has achieved – this view relates to Tony Lochhead when he was playing for the Wellington Phoenix. The use of Google Earth means the image is taken from whenever they last took a satellite shot – he wasn’t running around a cricket pitch! The lines on the pitch denote where the player ran during the game and the colour of the line indicates the speed which he ran. By using the zoom buttons located at the top of the screen you can further isolate specific periods within the game for instance in a goal scoring move and investigate solely the speed and location of the athletes movement at that stage of the game.


As well as being able to adjust training loads and make training more relevant a vital factor in GPS use is the motivation aspect. There is literally no hiding place and no room for players to coast when they are being monitored by GPS – the results can be shared on a Facebook team page or posted on a noticeboard if appropriate. They can also be used as the foundation for a performance conversation with an athlete, particularly if there is a drop off in match day statistics achieved. They may also be an early warning signal of an injury to an athlete who may not want to share with you that he is injured.

When coupled with a heart rate monitor the statistics become even more powerful. In the diagram below you can see the heart rate rise as the athlete’s speed has risen. From a coaches point of view, particularly in some of the endurance sports, this is a very powerful indicator of an athletes fitness and a measurement of the effectiveness of a session. It can also be used as a starter to begin a coaching conversation with athletes able to gain knowledge and physically see the effects that their session has.



Gps units have opened up a whole new area of information from a whole range of different sports. The Go Pro view of this mountain biker includes speed and altitude – information taken from the unit. It gives the viewer a unique perspective and presents the sport at it’s most exciting, it is a superb advert for the sport and would surely attract new participants.


Video Link

GPS units are at a realistic enough price not to be out of reach to amateur clubs and schools in New Zealand, buying a whole set remains the preserve of professional teams but if you are able to get your organisation to make the investment then the dividend will be in more engaged, motivated athletes and coaches with accurate information on which to devise their sessions. As well as these advantages you can also use the unit to review the effectiveness of your own sessions as a coach and reduce the amount of time players may be standing around. In the amateur environment we often have only 3 hours a week training time, how much of that time is spent working meaningfully? Hopefully, with the addition of GPS units to your training sessions you can make a real difference to your players and athletes and be able to judge your own effectiveness, as well as theirs, by critically reviewing the results.


Jim Dickin




Video Analysis – Power to the player, its all about the questions

The second in a series about technology in coaching will concentrate on video analysis and in particular about the author’s experience using the SportsCode products Contact Jim via @tech4coaching on twitter or by email


I have used SportsCode products in a range of different applications over the last nine or ten years. Both to assist my teaching of PE and teacher observation in the school environment, and also in coaching at First XV, Premier Club and ITM level with the Steelers.

Old coaching biographies that I have read refer to time spent with video, wearing the rewind and fast forward button out to review previous games and preview upcoming opponents. Video analysis programmes give us the ability to do this without the use of video, but instead in a digital format. Instead of being a prized possession, the game tape can now be shared digitally throughout the team and viewed by all. Instead of a dusty room filled with reel after reel of game tape, games are stored digitally and shared via the internet and external hard drives.

From the old school……




….to modern day!

At the professional level, there are distinct times in the week set aside for players to perform a review of the previous weeks game, and a preview of the upcoming opponents. Typically there are a number of computers available around which players can sit and use the tape to make decisions about trends and opportunities within their game and also spot weaknesses to be exploited in their opponents. As you can see below we have three synched video feeds and are able to isolate all sorts of aspects of play via coding the game i.e. tagging specific moments in the game as scrums, lineouts, lineout attack – post game this allows us to view only those moments rather than the whole 80 minutes.

Also within the professional game analysis can be made in game – these you tube clips are examples of the value that can be added by the use of this technology.

youtube – Sam Allardyce talking about his use of video technology in the UK’s Premier Football League – The analysts for Gloucester Rugby illustrate their game day – some great use of in-game analysis leading to actual changes here.

At the moment in game analysis remains the domain of the professional environment but there are many things as grassroots coaches that we can do. Analysis has become a manageable process for all coaches now without the massive time commitment that used to be inherent when VHS was the only answer.  The ability to use a video camera with an SD card has opened up very quick and easy methods of transferring video footage to our computers. iCoda allows a number of spectators/ injured players/team management to contribute to the teams performance with the ability to generate statistics as the game is being played (for feedback at halftime), coding can then be transferred post game to align with the captured video. This allows for analysis to be completed within 15-20 minutes of the game finishing and really allows you to start sharing meaningful clips with your players/athletes.
An example workflow for me in the amateur club environment is as follows:


  1. Video Match



2. Code the game using  ‘SportsCode Gamebreaker Plus’ break down the game into Scrums, Lineouts, Lineout attacks etc for Rugby, Penalty Corners, Circle entries etc for Hockey


3. Create videos of these events – share this video via a shared folder in Dropbox or Google Drive

4. Ensure players view the video and decision makers are able to comment on it before or at the Tuesday session.

5. Download a copy of this video onto ipad/phone in order for all players to view at training. AnyPlayer HD is a great iPad app for viewing video on the iPad


This allows me to complete the process of video analysis and share it with my players before training starts on Tuesday. The additional time commitment for me is minimal – coding a game takes the same amount of time as it does to watch it. Every coach I am sure would like to watch the game – I merely do so with a laptop and code as I watch. Then the uploads to Dropbox can be done in the background and therefore takes no extra time.

In the limited time available in the amateur environment this ensures that we have more on field time while still encouraging the players to make decisions about how they could become better players. It is imperative though to set questions and problems for the players to direct their viewing of the video. It is too easy for players to go straight to the big hits or the tries they have scored rather than view elements of their game with a critical eye. The NZ Coach Approach is a philosophical approach to coaching that promotes athlete learning, this can be facilitated by using video to challenge players. Through the use of video analysis and placing responsibility on the players they can become better athletes – surely a major goal of all coaches in every sport. Here is a video of an American basketball coach and the education he promotes via the use of Video Analysis:

Given that Video Analysis has become so prevalent in the professional game, I feel we as coaches should be attempting to prepare our players and develop athletes who think deeply about their part in the game. It is often a great way for players to feel part of the overall strategy and there is nothing more powerful for a coach than when a player initiates a strategy that they think will work having studied the video. As coaches we can develop athletes and create better players by using Video Analysis and involving the athletes in the process. I would like to challenge coaches to challenge their players to become the best they can be and create intelligent athletes through the use of Video Analysis.


Please contact me via email or find me on twitter @tech4coaching.


Jim Dickin.


Smartphones in Coaching

Posted: October 12, 2015 in Tech in coaching

Tech 4 Coaching

Smartphones in Coaching

This is the first of a series of blogs about using technology to assist and improve your coaching.  I look forward to any comments and contact from coaches on using technology in sport. In this article, I am going to discuss the use of your phone and smartphone apps and how they may be useful in coaching at all levels of sport.

Nearly everybody has a mobile phone of some sort and these can be a great tool in coaching. From the obvious use of communication to basic use of the video screen I believe they have become irreplaceable for all coaches today. Within my coaching I made a distinct decision to begin to use my smartphone which I will share with you below.  At the end of the 2011 season the management team of the University Rugby Club did a review. The season had been relatively successful – the team had reached the semi-final of our competition and lost to the eventual winners. The review was complementary, however, in self review

I questioned whether my coaching had directly improved any of the players personal skills. Some players had improved as a result of age and experience, many achieved representative teams and progressed to higher levels but the harsh reality was that I didn’t feel I had directly coached specific players. I had implemented systems and managed the players within those systems, I ensured that players understood their role in the team and encouraged their contribution but had I changed, or more importantly improved, the technique of a player directly through my coaching?
The decision was made to introduce an individual skills session at the start of Tuesday training each week utilising video to make this more efficient. Players performed skills drills either personal work ons or drills negotiated with the coaches and video was taken – using an assortment of video devices owned both by players and coaches and then the use of the video analysis apps, Coaches Eye and Ubersense.


Video Analysis Apps- Coaches Eye and Ubersense.

Which of these two apps you use comes down to personal preference and what type of Smartphone you own- I believe the features are practically interchangeable thus your decision becomes more about cost and accessibility. Coaches Eye is available for both Android and IOS devices where Ubersense is only available for IOS – however, Ubersense is free and there is a cost associated with Coaches Eye.
Ubersense is only available for IOS devices and comes with all of the various upgrades as part of the download – at no cost, as such I have found athletes are more likely to engage with the app. Someone without a smartphone is not excluded athletes and fellow coaches without the app can still receive and view the videos that you have made.
Within the apps your athletes/ injured players/ assistant

coacheseyeCoaches Eye showing use of drawing tools

coaches or yourselves can video the player taking part in a skill. This skill can then be reviewed using a slow motion fly wheel either side by side with the athlete or after training and then shared with the athlete via email. You are also able to compare this video with other athletes in your team or even professional athletes. Videos can be downloaded from the internet and added to the app as well as taken in real time. Both Coaches Eye and Ubersense are now trying to extend their community feature – people can opt to share their videos for comment around the world and download videos from the community, often of top athletes performing the skill you are coaching.
This gives us the opportunity as coaches to ensure that we are improving our players, with the ability to review video of their skills and comment on their performance. We then share these comments with the athletes either face to face or via the app/email/facebook/dropbox.


Coaches Eye showing use of drawing tools, This image, taken from a video I made on the run, shows the utilisation of smartphone technology whilst I was coaching at a Black Ferns training session.  We were using the tech to ensure that the athlete understood visually the coaching guidance I was providing.

I am very keen that the use of technology should not interfere with the relationship between player and coach and believe the use of these apps can promote this relationship while also giving the player invaluable visual cues about improvement of their technique – surely the aim of coaching in the first place. In particular I do not want to lose the vital human component of coaching and see technology as a tool in the coaching toolbox, not as a replacement for sound coaching.

I urge you to attempt to incorporate one of these apps into your coaching workflow and look forward to contact from you as to how you feel the process has gone. Certainly, it introduced a different emphasis in my personal coaching and a really positive reaction from the players involved, I regularly use ubersense in both rugby and athletics as well as my PE teaching. It would be great to build up a battery of NZ relevant videos to share from the Sport NZ community both from coaches exchanging opinions on players technique and an opportunity to view some perfect models of NZ’s best performers. This would also be a great resource for coach education, and address the problem in NZ of large travel times. Comment below if you have any interest in helping build up a battery of resource videos and I will set up and share a dropbox folder with videos in.

As I continue to write articles on technology in sport I am interested in what the coaching community would like to discuss, I would welcome your input into this. As an extension to this article I will share via my twitter feed a number of other apps which I regularly use in my coaching process and look forward to discussing these further and in particular having new apps recommended through the comments section of this web site or via twitter.

I can be found and contacted on twitter @tech4coaching and emailed at  jimdickinnz@gmail.comand look forward to feedback and interaction with coaches from NZ and the rest of the world.