Tech’s Impact on Watching, Playing and Coaching Sports

Sports fans have grown accustomed to instant replays, slow motion and the yellow line that serves as the first-down football marker on TV screens. Over the past two decades, technology has reshaped how people watch, interact with and communicate about sporting events. Technological advancements have moved from TV sets into the hands of coaches, players and recruiters.  

From professional to college and high school sports, just about every athletic program uses technology either for planning, research or recruiting.

“Technology has completely changed the game,” says UCLA men’s basketball video coordinator Kory Barnett. “With the amount of information available to coaches and players, technology is essential to helping you weed through it all.”

The NFL was among first to introduce tablets into their practices. According to the Associated Press, roughly half of all NFL teams are using playbooks on iPads.

Today, coaches at all levels pore over film and stats with the help of apps and programs such as Synergy, which allows coaches to cut games into specific clips to show players and link these clips with stats and information that can be emailed.

Using technology, watching game film becomes a more powerful learning tool. “Now we can not only describe fundamentals and plays but show players exactly what we mean, using clips and statistics of actual games,” Barnett says.

It’s not just game day that’s impacted by technology. The world of sports recruiting is undergoing an evolution.

Chris Rose, assistant football coach at Catholic High School in Little Rock, Ark., says phone calls between recruiters and coaches are becoming outdated. Now, recruiters can learn what they need to know about an athlete using apps such as Hudl and ReQRuitme, which allow student-athletes to create mobile profiles recruiters can view easily.

“Hudl allows athletes to create profiles, bringing all of their stats and highlights into one place that can be accessed by a recruiter using a smartphone or tablet,” Rose says. “Soon, coaches may be completely eliminated from the process because recruiters won’t need to reach out to us to get film of the players – they’ll already have access right there on their phones.”

Dr. Tom Tallach, assistant professor of kinesiology at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, says video sharing has even overtaken email and text messages as the primary way athletes self-promote and recruiters research.

“View books and brochures are being replaced with YouTube, or similar videos, distributed mainly through social media,” Tallach says. “Athletes in the 17-20 age range prefer this over email and text.” 

As technology continues to advance, who knows what innovative solutions may be next to get in the game.