I love sports. Since the day I bought my iPad, I have used it to manage my fantasy teams, watch sports, and keep up to date on the latest news for the teams I follow. I played sports in high school and college and have coached at various levels. I still love to jump in a competitive game when I get a chance.
When I learned about CoachNote, I was excited to give it a try and find out if it would turn my iPad into a useful coaching tool.
Even if you haven’t grown up playing sports, you can probably remember a sports movie where the team huddles around the coach while he draws up the last winning play on a white board. CoachNote aims to replace that white board and make it much, much better. It is, essentially, a digital whiteboard that can be used as a great teaching tool for almost any sport. Allowing you to save and animate plays and drills so they can be quickly accessible whenever you need them.
Once you’ve downloaded CoachNote and started it up, you’ll be greeted by the home screen. The home screen has two sections: My Notes and New Notes. Since you’ve just started, there won’t be any notes in the My Notes section. There will, however, be various fields and courts in the New Notes section, and I’d be surprised if you can’t find the sport you’re looking for. Once you’ve found your sport, click on it to start your first note.
It takes just a little while playing around with CoachNote to see how you can quickly use it to draw up plays for almost any sport. There are multiple types of lines representing different types of routes, speeds, or whatever you want them to represent. You can drag players onto the court from one or two teams, and they will be numbered from 1 on up by default. You can drag one or more balls onto the court or field to show where they are during the play as well.
CoachNote is quite intuitive, but the best way to get a feel for all of the features is to watch the 4-minute tutorial here. Once you watch this walkthrough, you’ll be writing and recording plays in no time!
Beyond the White Board
Once you get fairly comfortable with how each of the features work and how to move things around, you can begin to see how CoachNote far outshines a whiteboard and markers. Where CoachNote impressed me the most is in the animation of plays and drills. Within just a few minutes of playing around, I was able to draw up a quick soccer play that had 10 steps to it. I was then able to record the animated play into a video with sound, so I could explain what was going on in the play. The videos are saved in the stock photo app on your iPad.
The next release (a few weeks away, according to the developer) will have the ability to share notes with friends and other coaches, and to view notes from famous coaches. For me, this would be a huge addition. I have some plays that I’d like to draw up, but it would be incredibly useful to be able to find plays that other coaches are using and modify them to fit my team’s needs.
When editing a note, you can click on settings to adjust your dock. There, you can change the color of the teams and balls. When changing the color of a ball, scroll all the way to the end and you’ll find sport specific balls and cones!
Once you’ve mastered the process of drawing up and animating plays, it’s time to add a personal touch. I was able to quickly enter and save all the names of the players on my daughter’s AYSO team, and now I can set up plays with the names and numbers from that team correctly in place. You can also save formations that you use on a regular basis, so you don’t have to drag all your players into place for every play or scenario. This is a really useful feature, especially for sports with more than four players on the field or court.
I love the ability of CoachNote to animate plays. For it to be really useful, though, I would want it to keep a record of drills and training techniques as well. As a tennis coach, I always had a huge binder of drills that I could use for practice. I would love to be able to ditch that binder and have all of those drills in my iPad!
The animation in CoachNote works great for laying out drills and training techniques, but what is missing is an area for text to explain the purpose and have some key reminders for how to run each exercise. For me, this is a huge omission. Even for animated plays, it would be nice to have some text to explain or highlight different parts of the play.
After downloading CoachNote, I immediately started thinking of all the cool ways I could use it to help explain plays, drills, spacing, and position to my players. Once I was familiar with the features and layout, I was able to easily draw up plays in several different sports. The design of CoachNote is functional and looks nice, though I wouldn’t say it’s a beautiful app by any stretch. The home page is a bit dull and almost looks grainy. Ultimately though, as a coach you want the players and animation in each note to stand out so your team can see what is happening in the play. It does that well.
I give CoachNote a rating of 8/10. It works great as a teaching tool and for drawing up, animating, and recording plays and drills. The upcoming availability to share notes will make this app even better, and if the developer added the ability to add text to each note, I think this app would be awesome.
It’s $1.99, so even if you can see it being useful only occasionally, it’s probably worth the price. You can download it from the App store here. You can also download one of two different free versions, one for American Football, and one for Badminton. The free versions will give you a feel for how it works, but will only work for the one sport.