iPads will more often be seen at the centre of team time-outs. (Credit: Pam Carroll/CNET)
Millions of Australians spend their weekends playing and coaching all kinds of team sports — that hasn't changed for ages, nor is it likely to. But what has changed so rapidly in the past year is the number of coaches abandoning their old whiteboards and coloured markers for iPads and the bucket load of apps that make their jobs much easier.
Here we round up the best coaching apps for the iPad to keep track of plays, rosters and all kinds of stats. We've focused on apps for basketball (disclosure: the author's son is currently playing on three basketball teams), but most developers adapt their offerings for multiple sports, so on each page, you'll find links to the same app tailored for rugby, soccer, netball, field hockey, tennis, water polo, or whatever.
We can't say we've tested each one and produced winning teams, but these apps are currently the most fully-featured available at fairly reasonable prices. Android users, there are quite a few coaching apps out there for you too, and we'll do a round-up specifically for you in coming months as more new Android tablets enter the Australian market.
Just like an actual coach's clipboard, you can move your players around on the screen and draw lines using your finger. The display shows the player's name and you can now animate your plays, in both full and half-court display modes.
Designed to simplify the visualisation of plays through animation, PlaybookBball breaks basketball plays down into individual steps and puts them back together to bring a coach's vision to life for players.
Each play can have any number of custom tags that coaches can use to quickly access during game time. It's easy to copy an existing play to tweak to the original and you can draw different lines based on the type of player movement (Dribble, Pass, Shoot, Screen, Cut).
You can also display plays onto a projector or TV during a team strategy session (with an Apple VGA Dock Adapter). And, if players or other coaches want to study the plays on their own, plays can be shared with other iPhone and iPad users of the app (iTunes File Sharing) or emailed as a PDF for printing out hard copies.
This coaching whiteboard app lets you draw cuts, screens and passes with your finger and easily undo or erase any inadvertent drawing. Choose your court — Inbounds, Full Court, International, High School, College &mdash and choose from a number of preset offensive and defensive formations. You can then save plays as images to a photo library, email them directly from iPlayBook or share by a one-tap posting to a Facebook wall.
Basketball Playmaker provides offence and defence avatars that can be dragged around the screen (court) to simulate plays and formations. As plays are designed, the system stores movement, passes and shots, and the associated track lines. At playback time, "tracking lines" can be optionally turned on and off in "Play" and "Step" Mode.
Plays can be saved and played back at any time (during a time-out, a practice or a bench conversation). Snapshots of these plays can be made with a click of a button and the resulting "photo" can be emailed, printed (to Air Print devices) or filed as needed.
Basketball Coach Pro is a play editor, practice designer and team management app. You can design and save plays and drills, store your rosters and present your work on external displays. You can also write and save general notes or notes specific to your plays.
Basketball WhiteBoard is an app that lets you drag players and the ball around with your fingertips as you explain to a player how to position themselves on the court. You can switch to drawing mode and use your finger to draw arrows, circles or whatever else you need to and by turning on the "trailing lines" feature, a narrow line will be drawn along the path that each player is moved. This illustrates where the player "came from" before that player reached their current position.
This one might be useful if you're coaching in a family with kids playing multiple sports as Huddleboard comes with five built-in sports surfaces: soccer pitch, football field, hockey rink, basketball court and a baseball diamond. Pick the one you want and demonstrate a play or strategy to the team by laying out the positions of players, represented by X's and O's. You can also record player movements, make annotations on the surface, save plays for future reference and share plays.
Designed specifically for the iPad, this basketball coach's toolkit does the usual drawing plays stuff, but also keeps track of player statistics for your team and opponents. For use both during and after the game, it boasts simplified real-time game data entry and works particularly well on scouting missions.
Attention stat freaks — with Ballers you can run the game clock, produce shot charts reports, track player stats including playing time, automatically determine game MVP using stats, and share player and team stats with other coaches, players or parents.