High-tech scouting comes to high school teams

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2013 - 6:27 AM

Prep teams are discarding VHS decks and DVD copiers for more efficient scouting methods.

DeLaSalle senior guard Luke Scott leaves it to his own devices to analyze, dissect and prepare for opponents.

Sitting in the comfort of his home, with no teammates or coaches or projectors around, Scott taps on his school-supplied iPad to watch videos of how Blake's offense handles a zone defense and how Providence Academy breaks a full-court press.

"My dining room table is where I normally do it," Scott said. "By myself, so I can focus on it."

Scott is one of many high school athletes in all sports across the metro area who now use mobile devices and personal computers to break down opponents through software with names such as Hudl, Sportstec, DVSport, Krossover and Dropbox.

The new online and digital tools enable teams to upload game footage to the Internet and quickly edit and organize it. Just as quickly, it can be distributed across the Web to be accessed on smart phones and other devices.

No more rewinding and fast-forwarding VHS tapes to find or emphasize key plays. No more handing out DVDs. Film sessions at school have become shorter, leaving players to prepare by watching specific plays on their own time and on their omnipresent smart phones and other devices.

Digitally focused DeLaSalle has made the most of the downtown Minneapolis private school's initiative that requires all students to have iPads for educational purposes. Boys' basketball coach Dave Thorson and his assistants, who are big advocates of film study, break down film into specific situations with Sportstec and deliver it to their players through Dropbox for 24-hour access.

"Technology has this stuff at our fingertips," Thorson said "It's taken the game to the next level."

Thorson has happily parted ways with a dozen VHS tape decks, several DVD copiers and countless hours required to edit film with now-outdated devices.

"Last year we weren't using anything this technologically advanced. Now we have all the games on the iPads. It's quite the difference," Scott said. "It's a giant step to help us understand each individual play and help prepare."

Not like the old VCR days

Within minutes of learning their team would play Rosemount in the first round of the Class 6A football tournament, Edina coaches had footage of their opponent on their computers. The Hornets broke down film of the Irish with the help of Hudl, a web-based program intended to help teams make all their video, play diagrams and coaching presentations securely available to all team members over the Internet.

The Nebraska-based company, founded in 2006, dominates much of the burgeoning high school sports market with its interactive video editing system, which ranges from $29 (per month) to $3,000 (annually). The average high school football team spends $800 a year for access.

Though the fee can be viewed as excessive, coaches believe it's so beneficial that they have shifted their budgets to find room for it. A $200 account, which permits only sharing game footage with other teams, is available to help limit costs.

Teams can go beyond the basics of only watching film with more advanced Hudl accounts and other software such as Sportstec and Kross-over. Footage recorded by a coach or volunteer from the sideline or stands can be enhanced by breaking down by quarter, by offense and defense, by play, by a specific movement and by player. The film can be marked on by coaches and then archived for a quick database search.

"It's just easier and it's time more well-spent, instead of trying to fast forward like back in the old VCR days, trying to find the exact play. Now it's right there for you," Edina football coach Reed Boltmann said. "The kids are so much more prepared."

Scouting through tapping

Hornets incoming captains Mark Bryan, Erik Veker and Kevin Placide said the unlimited web access and in-depth database make preparing for opponents easier to understand.

Placide uses free time at school and home to browse film through the Hudl app on his iPhone. Veker praised Hudl for its "powerful" ability to pinpoint specific situations. Bryan, a defensive lineman, said it's helped him make up for his lack of size by memorizing the formations of an offensive line.

Scott and his DeLaSalle teammates are now calling out opponent's plays before they do. Tapping his iPad a few times, senior guard Trey Shepherd replays the upcoming opponent's offensive plays, allowing him to recognize formations on the court.

At Mounds View girls' hockey practices, it's not uncommon for players to hear Hudl terms like "watch pp2" or "check out goal 3." Using Hudl to prepare for opponents is partially responsible for the Class 2A, No. 2-ranked team's 22-1-1 record.

"The program has become a staple teaching tool for our team and definitely gives us an advantage to look at our positives and mistakes," co-coach Chris Hanson said.

Minnetonka girls' basketball coach Leah Dasovich is thankful for the sharing aspect of Hudl, which enables teams to quickly exchange game footage. This eliminates extra scouting nights away from home for the mother of two young children.

Apple Valley boys' basketball coach Zach Goring got a sneak peek of last weekend's Minnesota-Wisconsin Border Battle opponent Madison Memorial (Wis.) with a few clicks of his computer mouse.

"[Their coach] chose a game of ours and I chose a game of his. We swapped over e-mail in a matter of 15 minutes," Goring said. "This was great. In the past, we would need to send DVDs through the mail."

College coaches also no longer have to wait for DVDs of recruits. They can request access to footage of any player whose game video has been uploaded to Hudl.

The program even offers tools to create highlight videos that can be sent directly to recruiters that use Hudl.

'Overkill' or eventuality?

Keeping tabs on who is studying game video footage has become easier, too. For example, Hudl provides coaches with information on who is logging on, how often and how long.

Constant monitoring by coaches and enhanced film viewing by amateur athletes has some coaches questioning whether such software encourages too much scrutiny.

Walt Weaver, coach of Class 3A volleyball champion Lakeville North, said this sort of analysis is "overkill" in high school and only necessary at elite college levels and in the Olympics.

Eden Prairie football coach Mike Grant said if technology hadn't forced him to adopt digital scouting, he would be content building a game plan around a scout's notes.

The Roseville girls' basketball program has been successful with a conventional approach. Though only in his 30s, Jeff Crosby operates under traditional coaching methods and limits his film-watching each year. He turned down the boys' basketball team's offer to split the benefits and cost of a Hudl package.

"A lot of people have been asking me 'Do you use Hudl?' It's the old-school ways I'm used to," said Crosby, who has led his team to 18 consecutive victories and a No. 4 ranking in Class 4A. "I like pencil and paper."

But change is coming, even for Crosby. It won't be long, he said, until he'll be forced to plunge into the digital age of scouting if his Raiders want to keep up.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close