January 29, 2024 • CoachingFootballTechnology

Coach-to-player devices increase practice efficiency

A lot can change in four years. Just ask Brian Staub. 

In his first three seasons as head coach of the Point Pleasant Borough varsity football team in New Jersey, Staub went 8-16. Ahead of the 2021-22 season, Staub responded to an email from GoRout, an on-field sports wearable display technology company, about using the software for installing plays and getting quicker scout team looks on the practice field. 

And in the four years since incorporating the communication software into his program, the Panthers have gone 31-8, winning their conference for three consecutive years while earning a trip to the NJSIAA South Group II championship game in 2021.  practice“It’s obviously not the only reason we had success, but I would put it up there with one of the bigger impacts on the program in those three years,” Staub said. 

GoRout allows coaches to transmit digital play cards to each player wearing GoRout custom devices on the field at practice. These devices, worn during full contact, allow players to quickly receive a play, review their responsibilities, and execute efficiently. Using this technology, coaches can also communicate individual coaching points to each player without huddling or looking at a binder, allowing teams to double their repetitions at practice each day.

Specifically for Staub, the technology “completely changed” his defensive practice structure in terms of being efficient, and getting the most reps in a given period. 

“Any time we were in a group period or defensive team period, we would always have to huddle everyone up and hold the play card up and explain each thing,” Staub said. “Now we don’t have to huddle as everyone has their own individual device. So our coaches can send in the plays on a cell phone and they quickly look at it. It’s unbelievable how many reps we can get in a 15 or 20-minute defensive period.” 

That’s the way GoRout intended for its product to be used.

“Instead of a coach holding a binder and having to flip through his sheets or go to a completely different binder for a different segment of practice, now we’ve taken that binder and put it in the palm of their hand through any cellular device,” said Drew Robinson, former director of football operations at Western Michigan and current VP of sales at GoRout. “They then have the ability with one click to send that play card to their players who are then wearing one of the GoRout devices.”

With the coaches not having to spend as much time explaining plays for each situation, they can spend more time doing what they love—developing players. And that was a difference-maker for Point Pleasant Borough. 

“We’re a firm believer in the more quality reps you get, the better your practice will be and the better overall football players you’ll develop,” Staub said. 

Moore Time to Build Culture

The Round Rock varsity football program in Texas has been using GoRout for the last four years as well. Cody Moore is in his first year as head coach of the Dragons but served as the team’s defensive coordinator before taking over the program. 

And the ability to get plays in faster has allowed Moore to add a wrinkle into his practices to match the chaotic pace that plays out on Friday nights. 

“We like to have two huddles, so we’ll have two sets of GoRouts, one in each huddle,” Moore said. So not only are we using them to send in the plays, but we also do it at a rapid pace by sending one huddle alternating plays. We’re trying to go fast because our theory is to make things chaotic so that the kids can get used to the chaos that usually happens in a game.” 

The Dragons use GoRout strictly for scouting purposes, but he also has seen the difference from a player development standpoint. 

“We’re able to get a whole lot more plays, and we’re able to get a whole lot more reps. It feels like our kids have a better grasp of a lot of our concepts that our opposing teams are trying to do as well,” Moore said. 

The increased pace also occurs during weekend hours, expediting any preparation work that was previously done by organizing papers and building binders.

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He added, “We’ve had it for so long the kids don’t know anything different. They don’t know what a binder is. And it was a seamless transition to it. Most of our kids know how to operate technology like this anyway.”

That allows Moore, a new head coach, more time to build the culture he wants to see out of his program. Before the start of the season, he instilled the motto B.R.E.A.L.—an acronym short for Brotherhood, Relentless, Effort, and Above the Line Behavior. 

“That’s been our big message this year, on top of our core values that we regularly preach,” Moore said. 

Voice Activated

New guidelines that limit practice length plus rules about full contact frequency mean that coaches have to make every minute on the field count. The Porta Phone CLIP system allows coaches to communicate with players individually or in groups keeping practice “uptempo.”

The CLIP system consists of a self-contained wireless headset for the coach and a compact wireless receiver housed and protected by a neoprene holster. The CLIP is worn external to the helmet making it transferrable from player to player on the practice field in mere seconds. 

This versatility means a single CLIP can be utilized for offense, defense, or special team players during practice.

Porta Phone designed the CLIP with a full range of volume making it a versatile coach-to-player system. When set to low a coach can speak just to a single player during practice. The high volume setting transforms the CLIP into a gameday loudspeaker “player phone” so pressbox coaches can talk to groups on the sideline.

The CLIP allows coaches to speak to a single player, the huddle, or even groups so that

instructions are transmitted clearly. This is especially critical for backup position groups

allowing them to hear and understand calls so they are prepared when it’s their turn to be