Whiteboard Technology New Key Tactic in Coaching Program
Maple Leaf fans who are lucky enough to have a view of the team’s bench from their seats will notice something new by the end of the month. But they may need a computer handbook to figure it out.
Tablet PCs, hard wired into a Sling Box streaming device will be mounted at both ends of the bench, lending a bit of wizardry to Leaf games.
“It’s all about getting information into a player’s hands quickly and efficiently,” Leafs assistant coach Rob Zettler said.
Zettler, along with fellow assistant Tim Hunter, and head coach Ron Wilson, integrated the technology into their bench area while all three formed the San Jose Sharks coaching staff between 2002-07.
Zettler and Hunter are able to access real time video replays and real time stats from the Tablets, and relay them to players during games. The information is basically quick hit knowledge – the kind of live information flow common to a stock market trading floor.
But under this new Leafs coaching regime, there’s much more to the high tech approach than bench monitors.
The coaching threesome utilizes the OS-X computer operating system for their laptops. Much of the video and stats streaming they do is also available on a SMART Board – a large, touch-controlled screen – built into the video room, coach’s room and dressing room at the Air Canada Centre.
With a pointer, or even a finger, the coach can write on the board or control computer programs and removes the need to have large groups huddled around a single computer screen.
Cutting edge coaching technology
The real cool tool, though, is a vast stats database compiled by Wilson over his 15 years as an NHL coach. The database contains everything from where the most goals are scored from, to individual players’ on-ice tendencies.
“I started coaching with Ron and the first question that came out of his mouth to me was, ‘Can you use a laptop?’ I watched him and it was pretty amazing. I had some catching up to do,” Zettler said.
Once the Tablets and Sling Box are hooked up to the bench area, the Leafs coaches will have access not only to stats and video, but to television and the Internet. The advancements marks a strong contrast to the Roger Neilson – a.k.a. ‘Captain Video” – days in the late 1970s when Neilson represented cutting edge coaching technology by incorporating video tapes into his daily coaching regimen.
Zettler, though, says the tech is largely backup. Players, for instance, won’t be spending most of their time during games eyeing the Tablets.
“If you get a feel on a player, then you go to the stats and over the course of 10 or 15 games, or more, the stats don’t lie. … You’ve got instant backup on your gut feeling,” Zettler said.
Both Zettler and Hunter entered courses centering on the OS-X system, while Hunter has attended several development seminars in coaching communication and computer technology.
“It makes it easier to break down the game. I watch the game differently than Ron or Tim, so we all watch it and break it down several ways, any way we want, and we can present it to players that way. … It just makes it so much easier to do that kind of thing.”But Zettler says Wilson remains the tech guru. Wilson, for instance, has studied the location of where the majority of goal scoring comes from in the NHL. That information aids in positioning defencemen and forwards for shot blocking in the defensive zone (and other game details).
“I give a lot of credit to Ron, he is cutting edge when it comes to technology. Tim as well. … As a coaching staff we’re always looking at ways to get better,” Zettler said.
“We ask that same thing of the players every day, and if we can’t hold ourselves to that standard, then we aren’t doing our jobs properly.”
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Source: The Toronto Star