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Make Notes Anywhere about Anything

I’m biased but I think Hudl is pretty damn powerful. The simple concept of tagging one piece of video with multiple pieces of meaningful, customizable data is incredibly useful to coaches. With our current product, there are half a dozen ways to slice and dice your games.

But the goal with the next version of Hudl for Basketball is to simplify everything to its core. I’ll tell you how we’re starting with bookmarks, notes and breakdown data.

Problems with the Old

If you were to look at hundreds of basketball coaches’ Hudl accounts, you’d notice a pattern: There’s a very sparse mix of text and ink annotations alongside inconsistent edits and breakdown data. Some of this is related to the problems of clips which we’ve discussed before.

Sparse basketball breakdown and notes

When I first looked at these screens, it seemed coaches weren’t taking advantage of the tool and simply needed to be trained. Everything just felt incomplete. But that’s not it. The fact is the tool is over-engineered and over-designed for what they actually need.

For basketball coaches, multiple ways to do the same thing pose a problem: We put a power drill, chainsaw, belt sander and hammer in your hands when all you really needed was the hammer. Here’s the crazy thing – our existing breakdown tools are so cumbersome that dozens of coaches we talked to have reverted to a pen and paper for taking notes about what they see on Hudl.

What a sobering thought. And it’s the product’s fault, not the coaches’.

Let’s Do it Better

Our intentions with the new “Bookmark” feature in the latest product is heavily influenced by pen-and-paper coaches. We want our note-taking tool to feel just as fluid.

Here’s the basic flow:

There’s one more thing that wasn’t conveyed very well in that prototype: The ability to create a ‘clip’ wherever you want by using the bookmark feature is subtly powerful. You can’t do this anywhere else in Hudl without a lot of effort and actual video editing. It gives coaches a way to put boundaries around what they want to show – something that’s especially difficult in transition or at the edge of a clip in our current version.

Once you finish marking a game in Hudl, all of your bookmarks are searchable and categorized by player, concept and time. I’m confident that the days of endlessly fast-forwarding through a game to find the right moment are nearly over. Your team video sessions are going to be a hell of a lot smoother, but let’s save that topic for next time.

Less is More

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wait, did he just say the next version of Hudl for basketball will do less than the current one?” The short answer is yes.

At this point I should make something perfectly clear:

We will be offering two versions of Hudl for Basketball this upcoming season – the one you’re familiar with and the one we’re developing now. Staffs can decide for themselves which one is best by using them both, in tandem or in isolation.

We’re actually excited by the challenge of putting our older product out of business.

“What about season-compiled and individual stats?”

Right now, we’re just not ready to commit to those features in the new product. They’re very intriguing and we may get to them, but if you really need those things in Hudl, you should continue to use the existing basketball product in 2013.

If you’ve been intimidated by Hudl in the past and want to save incredible amounts of time each week, give the new product a shot.

“Can I create custom playlists of arbitrary videos (and across games?)”

For 2013, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make playlists across seasons. In fact, the idea of a ‘playlist’ changes quite a bit in the new product.

Your bookmarked list of video clips

Think about why you make playlists. If you’re like coaches I talked to, you make playlists to:

  • Compile a quick and easy list of the moments you want to show the team (what you’d write in a paper notebook for team film study).
  • Make corrections for specific players (when reviewing your own video) so they can be shared privately.
  • Build an opponent scouting list that includes their sets and key players.
  • Keep track of particularly good (or bad) examples of set plays, continuous offenses, traps, etc.
  • (Something else I just haven’t thought of. Leave me a comment below.)

We’re designing and building our “Bookmarks” feature to cover these use cases. In short, we’re betting you won’t need playlists anymore.

Please leave us some #realtalk below, and check back for our fifth and final reason the new Hudl for Basketball is bound to be awesome.

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