Bantam AAA Calgary Royals have iPad on bench
Watching video of past games and plays is nothing new at the NHL level or even major junior level of hockey.
Sessions like that will commonly occur the day after a game to correct any mistakes that the team or individuals made.
However, real time video analysis has yet to really hit mainstream hockey.
This season, 14-year-old bantam players in Calgary relished the opportunity to see the future of video analysis on a day-to-day basis.
The technology: Show, don't tell
The Bantam AAA Calgary Royals, spurred on by head coach Mickey Kluner, instituted the use of SportsCode Gamebreaker technology, which allows teams to analyze games and individual players. Further to that, they utilized the Air Display application, which allows a simultaneous live feed of game action to be transferred from a computer to an iPad on the bench.
Through the software and the touch-screen technology of the iPad, coaches use a customizable code window where they can tag certain plays into sub-categories such as breakouts, shots on goal, face-offs and even individual player files.
Players will return from a shift and coaches will immediately be able to give them visual feedback, either positive or negative.
The technology gave Kluner an immediate leg up on the competition.
"It was incredible," Kluner said. "At that age (14), the boys seeing themselves doing something versus the coach just being a broken record and saying the same thing over and over.
"It being instantaneous is invaluable. They can see it, and correct it. They can see how the play develops instead of blackboards."
Kluner's Royals ran away with the Challenger South division of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League posting a record of 26-3-4, but lost out in the regional finals in the playoffs. Kluner still believes the use of the revolutionary software was vital to the team's success.
"It was definitely more valuable at the start of the season, for habits' reasons, to show a play. In the second half of the season it was more valuable for intermissions, for pre-games, showing clips of certain plays and for making adjustments.
Players love instant feedback
The Royals on-ice leader, captain Cameron Anklewich, said the players were all shocked about how cool it was, but said the excitement wore off and it quickly became a great tool to learn from.
"When the coach tells you that you did something wrong, in our own mind you know you did sometimes, but there are other times where you think you did the right thing," Anklewich said. "And then you see it on the iPad and it's a different story."
Anklewich said that it really came in handy when the coaches could use it to look as tape of opposing teams. They then could structure practices specifically to defend against opposing teams systems.
Dave Benard, who is the owner and Performance Analysis Specialist with HD2 Sports, introduced the software to Kluner and the Royals.
"It's commonly known in the game of hockey as Gamebreaker and it's been around for a while," Benard said, who also acts as an assistant coach with the Mount Royal University Cougars men's hockey team.
It's the advancement of the Air Display application and the use of the iPad on the bench that made what Kluner was doing unique.
"To the best of my knowledge, it is only being used by one other team and one other coach in North America," Benard added.
The other coach using it is Andy Smith, a former assistant coach with the Dartmouth University men's team, who introduced the technology to Benard this past summer.
By the end of the season two, more bantam teams and one minor midget team had adopted the software in Alberta. Benard approached some WHL teams but he said that some of those coaches saw it as a distraction.
Benard had the chance to watch some of the Royals games and hopes that his software played a big part in their success.
"The understanding that his team had in terms of different systems played, roles and responsibilities, in my opinion it was second to none," he said. "And if we had any help in that process than it was huge success."
- By Derrick Newman