How to Embrace Tech to Teach Youth Football Players.

Kids are glued to their phones. Here’s how one youth coach used that to his advantage.

How to Embrace Tech to Teach Youth Football Players.

Kids are glued to their phones. Here’s how one youth coach used that to his advantage.

These days it’s rare to find a moment when an athlete doesn’t have a screen within arm’s reach. Youths and teens are constantly checking their phones or fiddling with their tablets.

Instead of viewing this as an annoyance, Demiko Suggs decided to put it to good use.

Suggs, a youth football coach for the PG Chargers (Maryland) of American Youth Football, grew tired of seeing his players leave their paper playbooks on the sidelines or in the bleachers after games, waiting to be scavenged by future opponents. He turned to Hudl to share his installs electronically, but soon discovered there was far more worth sharing.

“These were the kids born with the phone in their hands,” Suggs said. “From the very first moment they could watch themselves on video and show their friends, (Hudl) was a hit from day one. Everyone is thoroughly familiar at this point.”

“Hudl is like Facebook. It’s thoroughly mainstream at this point.”

The Chargers are currently made up of 13-year-olds, but they were all around eight or nine when Suggs implemented Hudl. Once the players caught on, the coach took full advantage of his sharing opportunities.

Suggs became enamored with Hudl’s Play Tools feature, which allows him to share notes, player assignments and positions with the Chargers. He can also see how much time each athlete spends on Hudl, so he knows who’s studying and who needs to spend more time with his playbook.

But Suggs also shares plenty of video from practice and games with his players. He uses comments and drawings to mark missed assignments, poor technique and other notes he wants to distribute.

“We can coach faster on the field,” Suggs said. “We don’t have to stop practice to say, ‘Hey, you did this right or you did this wrong.’ It’s that second set of eyes. If you’re running a drill, you might be focusing on hand placement and footwork. Watching practice later gives us that 20/20 hindsight to say, ‘Let’s make sure we reinforce that or we correct the footwork on that play.’”

Some feedback is instantly administered while other times Suggs holds back. His quarterback, for example, might receive some clips of his throws from practice with instructions to watch his footwork or arm angle. Meanwhile, corrections in tackling or blocking are usually saved for the following day’s practice.

While not every coach feels the need to share as much as Suggs does, he considers using Hudl as an essential element to competing on the national level. He’s interested in nabbing any advantage he can get his hands on.

“Now kids are glued to their phones, so it makes it much easier,” Suggs said. “And with the messaging feature, we don’t have to wait for certain communication windows. We don’t have to wait until eight o’clock tonight to send a message. I can send it in the morning. I can send it at lunch time. ‘Hey, there are new plays added to the install. Take a look when you can.’

“It removes a lot of barriers to communicating with the kids.”

Check out what Hudl can do for your athletes by clicking here.

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