September/October 2020 - 24

RAPID REVIEW
Hudl's Sideline Software Allows for Real-Time Reviews
By Jake Levin, contributing writer
Scouting has been synonymous with football at every
level so long as the game's existed.
Legendary careers have been built out of football
scouting, an ever-evolving field that continues to change at
warp speed with technological advances in the 21st century.
When it comes to scouting at the high school level, Hudl
is among the most-used software by football programs.
Greg Nelson, who's worked for the company since 2010,
has seen its meteoric growth from a platform that roughly
250 high school programs used when he began to some
160,000 teams - in all sports, not just football - across
the globe a decade later. Nelson estimated that 98 percent
of the roughly 18,000 high school football teams in the
country are currently using Hudl, a percentage that holds
true across all 50 states.
In addition to his role at Hudl, Nelson has been
head coach of the Lincoln Lutheran (NE) High School
football team for six seasons, guiding the Warriors to
a 30-31 record - 29-14 over the last four seasons. He's
seen firsthand how valuable a tool Hudl can be when it
comes to self-scouting, including with one of Hudl's latest
endeavors, Hudl Sideline.
The service, which is available solely on iOS systems
such as iPads and iPhones, is an instant replay software
that gives teams the ability to watch the most recent snap
in a game within two seconds.
" Normally, Hudl shines after the game, when you're
watching film to prepare for your next opponent, but we
wanted to be a factor when teams are playing under the
lights, " Nelson said. " That's when things are most critical
for them, so we wanted to build a tool that helps serve
them during their games. "
Hudl Sideline was the company's first foray into a
hybrid program that's both a software and a hardware,
Nelson said, as a way to help circumvent potential wireless
internet issues in larger stadiums.
" If there is (wireless), there are probably 3,000 other
people connecting to it in the stands, " Nelson noted.
Hudl Sideline acts as its own wireless network, enabling
the streaming of video from a camera set up in the press
box - or end zone - right back down to the sideline.
" I find myself watching it in between plays, " Nelson
said. " I'll call a play, see how it goes. If something goes
wrong and I need to see what went wrong before I call the
next one, I have the opportunity to watch it. "
Roughly one-third of high school football teams in the
U.S. are currently using Hudl Sideline, Nelson said. The
service isn't yet permitted for use at the college level; as
such, schools in states which follow NCAA guidelines as
opposed to NFHS rules can't yet use Hudl Sideline. As of
24 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020
2020, this only applies to Texas, following the defection of
Massachusetts to the NFHS system in 2019.
Like other programs in Hudl, the Sideline feature allows
you to tag different data points after the game as well.
Curious as to which plays you ran every time you faced third
down in the game? Hudl Sideline can track that.
In addition to down-and-distance, the feature can track
exactly where on the field the play was run from (left
hashmark, right hashmark, etc.) and tweak strategies
from there.
In-game, the most subtle of details are there for a coach
to digest at a moment's notice. As Nelson noted, he could
identify whether or not a player blocking upfront stepped
with their correct foot on a play, a seemingly minor detail
which could be the difference between a big gain or a
stagnant series.
Hudl offers four packages with its Sideline application,
with the most basic offering single-camera setups in press
boxes. More premium options are available and include
streaming kits and technical support, and allow schools
to be equipped with two-camera setups - in the press box
and end zone.
Much of the work high school coaches are tasked with
involves breaking down film after a game on Friday night,
a process that can consume the rest of their weekend.
Another Hudl platform, Hudl Assist, addresses this issue.
Coaches can outsource the breakdowns to Hudl as a
means to worry less about data entry and more about
practical preparations for next week's opponent.
" Within a matter of 12 to 24 hours, we're able to turn
around that game with the data they wanted tagged so they
can just focus on the reports and the scouting and less
about the manual data entry side, " Nelson said.
More than 10 states have already announced that high
school football will be played in the spring, if possible,
during the 2020-21 academic year due to the ongoing
COVID-19 pandemic. But whether or not games are played
in certain states, Hudl continues to be an important tool
when it comes to recruiting.
Film from previous seasons persists on Hudl and
remains available to college coaches, while remote
workouts for players in states which are forging ahead this
fall can be taped on Hudl as a means to maintain as much
social distancing as possible during the season.
Nelson predicted that coaches of teams that aren't
playing in the fall would still be able to have remote film
sessions based on the 2019 season via Hudl, too.
" They'll have the players show some of their workouts
and then the coaches will be able to critique them and coach
them up when they aren't able to be there, " Nelson said.

September/October 2020

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