Hudl may be the best thing to happen to my coaching career. When I was an assistant football coach and director of strength and conditioning at Denison University, we hired a former player/student assistant as the defensive coordinator. Upon his arrival in 2010, we implemented Hudl as the football program’s video scouting and exchange system.
As a coach, husband, and father I immediately reaped the benefits: Practice film was emailed to our players before they even got back to their dorms; I cold evaluate practice and game film from anywhere at anytime; I could provide our players with comprehensive video scouting playlists, which would save them (and me) critical time. Hudl gave our team the best opportunity to succeed, and gave me more valuable time with my family.
During my time at Denison, I handled performance enhancement and injury prevention for athletes from more than 20 different sports. Whether I was training during the competitive season or teaching a strength class for athletic development, I wanted to give those students the best opportunity to succeed. I focused most of my efforts on providing feedback on technique discrepancies and biomechanical positioning. The same Hudl used for football helped me deliver these strength and conditioning lessons more efficiently, implementing corrective strategies in a timely manner for immediate improvements.
Addressing Technique Discrepancies
Using Hudl is almost like having a second strength and conditioning coach in the weight room, which can be a huge help depending on the coach-to-athlete ratio in a given session. Occasionally, there were too many athletes to address each individual’s technique and the opportunity to correct flaws was lost. Being able to record the full session, I could go back and see each athlete’s performance, and follow up with feedback if necessary.
Speed & Agility Testing
When we filmed the start of a 10-yard dash or any of the turns in a pro agility shuttle, athletes could see for themselves exactly where critical mistakes were being made. Coaches could use drawings or spot shadows to further illustrate incorrect joint angles and footwork sequences. Voiceovers and text notes also allowed us to further explain the highlighted discrepancy.
The most common discrepancies we critiqued in 10-yard dash film were easily addressed with telestrations - pointing out the angle of the athlete’s shins at the start, addressing the distance traveled in their first three steps, and adjusting the angle of their torso at the start.
Explosive, multi-joint, and circa-maximal movements were all recorded so the athletes could review targeted sets during each training session. Like with sprints or change-of-direction tests, improper joint angles and insufficient rate of force development were highlighted and commented on by the coach. Studying these comments later gave the athlete ample time to mentally prepare and address the technique flaws that previously prevented adequate improvement.
Some of the flaws we frequently corrected with Hudl voiceover and telestration tools were squat depth, posture in sticking points, and torso angle vs. shin angle. Again, yellow circles may show the athlete what’s wrong, but without the voiceovers and text boxes, there’s no telling why or how it can be improved.
Overall, Hudl is the perfect system for objective coaching through timely feedback on all athletes, regardless of the program being studied. With the abilities and mentality of today’s athletes, it’s all about appropriate and direct communication.
Mark Watts is the Director of Education at elitefts.com™ and the NSCA Ohio State Director. He has worked as a strength and conditioning coach for more than 15 years, training college athletes in over 20 different sports at the Division I, II, and III levels. Originally from Pittsburgh, Penn., Mark is a USMC veteran.