Appy coaching

7 April 2014

Jim Dickin continues his series on applications in coaching.

By Jim Dickin

The ?rst point to make in any discussion about apps and the use of devices for coaches is that they should not interfere with the key aspect of coaching: the relationship between the athlete and the coach. Apps and technology must only be a tool in your toolbox, not the be-all and end-all.


I do believe though that the use of some of these tools extends you as a coach and can improve the feedback you are giving to your athletes. I have been fortunate enough to deliver a number of workshops on using Ubersense and some coaches have been really enthusiastic. Check out this video below created on Ubersense by Tesesa Lavea – great feedback for the player.

I ?nd this app really tests you as a coach – the process of recording your observations means that you cannot fudge but really need to know your stuff. It also lets you coach from afar and so can address the issues of distance for New Zealand coaches and athletes, imagine being able to get feedback on your pole vault from a top US athletics coach!

Live Video Delay

  • Requires iOS 5.0 or later
  • Cost: US$7.49
  • Download: iOS

There are quite a few versions of this app around. I like this one because it lets you save footage to the camera roll at the same time as recording it. You can also go frame by frame through your recorded footage and use drawing tools. The scope for this app is improved further if you consider using an Apple TV or iPad dongle to project what’s on your screen, sharing your ?lm with a wider audience.

Bust-a-Move Video Delay

  • Requires iOS 5.0 or later
  • Cost: US$4.99
  • Download: iOS

This app’s video delay allows you to split the screen four times, providing four different delays on the same screen. Again, these are outstanding if you are able to project the footage and allow your athletes to watch themselves in each of the views. You can alter the time delay on each screen to make it relevant to whatever activity you are doing. The ability to stand beside your athlete and watch them perform the movement while you commentate is invaluable.

The fact it’s repeated four times really lends itself to the New Zealand Coach Approach, under which your athletes can suggest their own improvements.

Sprint Timer

  • Requires iOS 6.0 or later
  • Cost: US$3.79
  • Download: iOS

High-quality ?nish line images make Sprint Timer ideal for athletics or swim meetings, or anywhere requiring absolute clarity over the ?nishing order. It can also be set to start on the starters gun and even lets you set your distance from the gun to allow for the time it takes the sound to travel.

This app is a must-have for schools running athletics sports, and can replace teachers on the ?nish line. Imagine trying to decide each position in the race pictured in real time! This app will give absolute certainty and proof to every coach. It could also be used to measure 40-metre sprint times.

Video Tagger Pro

  • Requires iOS 6.0 or later
  • Cost: US$3.79
  • Download: iOS

Allows you to cut sections of video which you can then use to make a highlight reel or coaching ?lm. You can take video from Dropbox, or off your camera roll and then tag the movie to take speci?c highlights.

This can then be uploaded to Facebook or into a shared online folder Dropbox to share with your players. This gives you the ability to guide your athletes in the watching of an event – too often they may focus solely on the scoring moves or big hits, this app allows you as a coach to direct their attention.

Polar Team and Bluetooth Heart rate monitors

Bluetooth Heart

Polar Team

  • Requires iOS 6.0 or later, iPad mini and iPad third generation
  • Cost: US$3.79
  • Download: iOS

Gives you the ability to monitor the heart rate on your iPad of up to 40 athletes. This allows a ?tness trainer to check who is coasting in your sessions while a coach would be able to monitor in game performance.

If an athlete is consistently operating above a comfortable threshold, their ability to make decisions may be compromised and this would be an ideal time to substitute.

This app only works on iPad mini and iPad third generation and above and works with the Polar Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor.

Sportstec Player

(Please note the price!)

  • Requires iOS 7.0 or later.
  • Cost: US$65
  • Download: iOS

For users of SportsCode products (Gamebreaker Plus, SportsCode Pro and SportsCode Elite) this app allows you to view your coding on the iPad. This gives you the facility to distribute game ?les to iPads and allows players and your wider coaching facility to view the game in depth. This means you can extend the functionality of your match analysis to iPads that have this programme installed.

Qrafter Pro

  • Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
  • Cost: US$3.79
  • Download: iOS

QR codes have massive potential to help coaches and clubs and are limited really only by imagination. This app can scan and create QR codes like the ones below. QR codes can be linked to web pages, video clips, Google forms and even geographical points via GPS coordinates. I have used them to design a treasure hunt and also so new players can add their details to a Google form at a club registration evening.

We also use them in my school linking to YouTube clips of the weights machines being used properly. This means that students at the gym can scan the QR code to view the videos.

Get in touch

These are the main apps I use in my coaching. I’m really interested to hear from coaches all over New Zealand and the world as to what apps they use in their coaching process.