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Post Technology watch – the iPad playbook

Friday August 26, 2011

Earlier this year we heard about NFL teams considering replacing their ponderous paper playbooks with tablet versions. That’s become a reality: Tampa Bay has gone paperless and issued iPads with playbooks to each of their players.

The Bucs were smart and went beyond just a straight up playbook alternative. The iPad platform allows the team to offer players access to “video files of games, and practice and situational videos of any NFL team.” As a player studies the playbook, he can call up a practice video to see how that play is executed. He can also pull up a clip of how an opponent defends a certain formation.

The iPads also come with a security advantage. Once a paper playbook gets shared or stolen, it’s gone. iPads can be remotely wiped by the owner.

We’re still waiting for this technology to make it onto the field and look forward to specialized applications to help coaches with real-time decision making. It won’t be long.

Tablets are also making it into college programs, though on a much smaller scale. We’ve talked about their use in recruiting. Nebraska alum Ndamukong Suh outfitted the Huskers’ locker room with 123 built-in Apple iPads. Due to compliance concerns, the tablets are mounted and can’t be removed. That takes away a lot of the advantage, so players can’t use them for personal use or even film study outside of the locker room. In that capacity, they’ll be used mostly for communication between players, coaches, and academic personnel.

That’s unfortunate, because the portability and convenience of the tablet is perfectly suited for the student-athlete who might only have a few minutes on some remote part of campus to study a play or a video clip. I understand the compliance concern (Hey! Here’s an $800 piece of electronic equipment for you.) This is something that’s just going to have to evolve over time as the NCAA and colleges become more familiar with and smarter about the technology.

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