Hudl’s Focus Camera Brings Ease on Sidelines
How do you improve on a program that has won six state championships in the last 12 years in the state of Texas? What can you continually integrate into your program that not only represents your core values and helps you stay up-to-date in the technology field, but does not add time to your busy schedule?
Those are the questions the coaching staff of Lake Travis High School’s football program is asking. Aside from its success on the varsity level, the Cavaliers boast two additional junior varsity teams and three more freshmen teams. With the logistical issues that come with a program of that size, the coaching staff and administration need versatile equipment that has a bang for its buck.During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, Lake Travis not only needed a platform to host livestreaming access due to limited in-stadium crowds but software that can record practices, games, and be conveniently accessible.
“We needed a livestreaming option for our six football teams, but did we want to pay a company a bunch of money to produce one for our 9th-grade C team?” asked Jonathan Coats, assistant football coach at Lake Travis. “But we also do have people who want to see their kids.”
The Cavaliers turned to the Hudl Focus camera, a fixed outdoor camera equipped with real-time player tracking that allows you to stream directly to YouTube for free, to solve both of their needs. They can additionally receive film from any game recorded through the Hudl app and Focus Exchange Network.
“We’ve had limited time to really put it to use, with only having three home games last year,” Coats said. “But so far it’s been less hassle and less work on my plate, and with a tap of a button, I have everything I need to do my job. It’s all set up.”
In previous years Coats described the Cavaliers utilizing film towers and video drones to record scrimmages or practices on fields that required extra manpower to operate, which equated to larger coach-to-player ratios at times. But with the one-stop-shop of the Focus camera, the Cavaliers program can run and record multiple teams simultaneously and not lose out on the manpower.
“We’re excited to be using it for our sub-varsity sessions,” Coats said. “With the scrimmages we have planned coming up we can capture those while also capturing our sub-varsity practices on other fields outside our main stadium.”
And with the Focus connected to the stadium, Lake Travis can now offer a high-definition livestream and recording option when renting out its facilities to outside entities.
“The rental fee goes up to record those games and get it to them,” he said.
ADDRESSING TRAVEL COACHES’ NEEDS
Greg Nelson knows how difficult it can be for coaches, particularly travel or club coaches, to get quality game film. The venue is never the same, the availability of internet access is questionable, and other variables can make it a nightmare scenario.
As a high school football coach, he’d hear his peers from other sports like soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey lament their frustrations about getting film — not just for their own breakdown, but getting their athletes noticed by potential college recruiters.
Luckily for his peers, Nelson is also the vice president and general manager of Hudl.
“For a football coach, [our film options] have sort of a set it and forget it aspect,” Nelson said. “But for nearly every other sport getting the universal adoption of film culture — and trustworthy, easy-to-use technology — is one of the biggest hurdles. For club sports, sometimes there are nine different fields with different start times in a two-day period. There are no press boxes, and so on. So we wanted to bring that same automation to film recording for those coaches.”
The Hudl Flex is the portable smart camera option from the Focus line that aims to aid coaches on the go. Coaches no longer need a perched area to mount a fixed camera to get the benefits of high-definition recordings and be bogged down with additional setup and breakdown times.
But aside from the ease of things, the Focus Flex offers club coaches a streamlined option of getting their players noticed.
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“Recruiting happens so much within club sports nowadays. And recruiting depends on video. The better quality video, the more your athletes can shine. Not to mention, access to these options is what the top talent wants,” Nelson said.
“Our mission is to make every moment count — team meetings, practices, games, anything,” he added. “We are about accelerating the coaching process for all coaches.”