Coach Logic User Board – Report from the Conference
Sports professionals from across the team sports of rugby, football and hockey gathered at Loughborough University’s London Campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to hear about the latest advances in technology from Coach Logic.
The setting – at the university which is at the forefront of sport in the UK and globally – was perfect for Coach Logic founders Mark Cairns and Andy Muir to set out their vision for the future of online analysis and video feedback. And the additional input from experts within the field added an academic weight that gave a context to the developments in coaching that Muir and Cairns are spearheading.
While the conference had structure and a schedule, much of the day was about shared experiences. One target that Cairns and Muir were keen to hit was the testing and subsequent launch of the new Coach Logic App. The audience in the room were perfect ‘guinea pigs’ – all passionate about coaching and all willing to explore new ideas.
“The app will be perfect for our needs,” said Chris Fowke, who coaches the Army women’s rugby team. “Our players are geographically all over the place; social media is the best way of communicating with them and this is great – it’s like a Whats App for the team.”
Certainly communication is the driver behind the app, as Cairns explained: “Today’s user has very different habits to players of the past. They may be watching television, snap chatting their mates on their smart phones and watching clips of the game on their laptops, all at the same time. We think the app will tap into that mindset and give coaches and players a better communication channel.”
With the app, the coaches and players can share all manner of information: not just about their own match or training session but videos of other teams, infographics, pictures, training schedules or they can simply start a conversation.
“The App is the start of the discussion,” said Cairns. “By encouraging this type of easy interaction, it becomes habit forming, but it also gives the coach an opportunity to learn more about their players. For example, you can see when the players are interacting on the app, which gives you insight into their lifestyle; you can see how often they view certain clips: depending upon the content, that might warn you they are anxious about an aspect of their performance.”
Through the app, players and coaches can tags events of interest; involve others in the discussion by mentioning ‘@’ another user(s) or group(s) within the tag; receive notifications of any clips or conversations they are tagged in; favourite particular clips or messages and a heap of other tools that the digital generation are comfortable using.
“It is a simple way of getting information to a large group of players,” said Gavin Hogg, coach to Bury St Edmunds Rugby team. “It is one of those things that you need to get into the habit of doing and then it becomes a really efficient way of doing things. For me, an away game is ideal because I can prepare the clips on the journey home and the players will have them by Sunday morning.”
For several coaches at the conference, the idea of sharing information and encouraging two-way feedback is breaking through the old, entrenched coaching styles. An analyst at Chelsea Football Club said: “The historical nature of our sport is entrenched and we are working to break that. Under the old system, the coach was the dominant force, training happened to players. We want to create a system where training happens with players.”
Two-way communication was very much the dominant theme of the day. Most coaches admitted to working alongside old school coaching staff who still believed in a one-way communication path, but the consensus in the room was the need for player engagement. “Players will come to training now and challenge what we are doing,” said Fowke. “They have watched the clips, listened to our feedback but had their own thoughts on it.”
Hogg agreed: ‘My players will bring their thoughts to the training session and we are really pleased about that because they are the guys on the ground. We might have watched a clip and seen it one way but they will have a totally different perspective.”
For coaches, such as Kevin Johnson who coaches the Welsh Hockey team and therefore only sees his players for occasional blocks of time throughout the season, the ability to send relevant information is vital. “The players will have been with their club coaches every week and often that drives any memory of what we have been doing out of their minds. By sending clips and comments, we are able to refocus on the work we have done as a squad. I will often re-send a clip just before the team gets together, just to focus the players.”
Alongside the discussions about Coach Logic and the digital platform, delegates also heard from Dr Don Vinson, a lecturer in sports coaching at Worcestershire University; Michael Ayres, programme director for education, theology and leadership at St Mary’s University and Jamie Benson, head analyst from West Ham United.
The key messages from each speaker backed the key message from the conference. Player engagement is vital to the success of the team. “We have moved way beyond the culture of ‘yelling and telling’,” said Vinson, as he wrapped up his talk. “Effective learners are active, curious, motivated, excited and they like to work with others.”
Ayres agrees: “It is no fun reflecting upon a game on your own, Coach Logic have helped make this a social element of the whole game and training package.”
The Coach Logic App is available from Apple and Google Play (android) app stores.