The Playbook is dead! Long live the Playbook!

In yesterdays post (The Value of a Playbook), I discussed some of the objections that I have heard regarding publishing and issuing playbooks to the athletes on your squad.  A few of them were:

  • “It is a waste of my time, it will just end up in the bottom of their locker”
  • “We change what we emphasize each week, so our offense (defense) is really fluid… it’s tough to capture that in a printed playbook”
  • “Kids learn by doing”
  • “Kids just don’t have the attention span any more… they are used to playing video games”
  • “Kids don’t read any more – they would rather watch a movie instead”

While I disagree that it is a waste of time, I also talked about the validity of some of these arguments:

  • Some kids DO learn by doing…
  • Some kids WOULD rather watch a movie than read…
  • Some kids will NOT read the playbook…
  • Some kids DO have short attentions spans…
  • Some kids DO relate to video games more than the written word.

Here is the $24,000 questions – With over 100 student-athletes on our squad, with many different learning styles, and with the technological tools readily at our disposal, is the written (paper) playbook the best we can do?  I do not think so.

“The Playbook is dead!  Long live the Playbook!”

grabThe playbook of the future is here today.  I have been following a coach on Twitter, Keith Grabowski (@CoachKGrabowski) , who is doing some cutting edge things regarding technology in coaching.  Coach Grabowski is the QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Baldwin Wallace University and has written an iBook, 101+ Pro Style Pistol Plays.  Just today his blog post, “Improving learning through the use of iPads”, he discussed a recent MIT study regarding learning and the use of a tablet computer. The Mac program, iBook Author, is a free and powerful program; Coach G. unlocks its full potential in his book.  You can see a sample of his book at this link… (101+ Pro Style Pistol Plays) but be forewarned… once you click, you will want to buy!

Now, I am not saying that you have to buy Coach Grabowksi’s iBook and run his offense.  What I am saying is that we are capable of doing more regarding teaching our athletes.  We can do better than the printed playbook whose form has not changed much in the last 50 years.   It can be done using resources that are available to you and that you are probably already using.  You can take your playbook into the 21st century with little to no cost, and do it with relative ease.

multi media playbook2This week I created a sample playbook to demonstrate the possibilities.  It took me maybe 30 minutes to complete.  I used a program called Tactilize to make a “Card” – essentially a digital playbook that can be viewed on a computer, but is optimized for the iPad.  It has the following components to aid in the instruction of your student-athletes or assistant coaches:

  • A digital picture of each page of our printed playbook that the athletes can bring up to read and study with a click.
  • An animated PowerPoint presentation – essentially a whiteboard talk
  • Actual telestrated game video with audio explanation of the material described in the playbook and whiteboard pieces

Here are the advantages of this multi-media playbook:

  • Your whiteboard talks or film reviews are not “one and done”.  They are preserved digitally and can be accessed at any time, and as many times as the athlete needs to see them
  • It is interactive.  The learner can watch, rewind, or stop at any point
  • It incorporates many different learning styles
  • It can easily be updated and changed… it is fluid
  • Your athletes can learn at their own pace, on their own time
  • You can “flip the classroom” – your athletes can get a head start by viewing the material (print, PowerPoint, video) ahead of the actual installation – leaving you more time to teach and practice.

Here is a short video that shows the capabilities of the multi-media playbook

Here is the process that I used to create the digital playbook:

  • The digital images of the playbook pages were created by “printing” each page to a PDF file.  This function is native on both Mac and PC’s
  • The animated ”whiteboard” videos were made using PowerPoint (using automated transitions) and saving the presentation as a video.  This, too, is native on both Mac and PC’s.  After making the first presentation, you can use it as a template for each successive presentation.
  • The telestrated video was a screen recording (screencast) using clips that were already “tagged” in Hudl according to front/stunt/coverage.  If you are already using Hudl, you already know how to do this step.
  • The videos were all uploaded to YouTube.
  • The Tactilize “Card” allows you to link the hotspots with the YouTube video and PDF files.

As I mentioned, the whole process to create this sample took me about 30 minutes.  I am guessing you could convert your entire playbook to a multi-media teaching tool in about a day.  Would it be worth your time to do it?

  • If having a multi-media playbook helped just one athlete perform better on one play during the season….
  • And that one play made the difference between winning and losing one game….
  • And that one game made the difference between being conference or district champions…

Would it be worth your time then?

If you have any questions about how you might be able to make this conversion, please drop me an email or leave a comment.  If you would like me to help in this process, I would be glad to do it!

Jeff Floyd –

16 thoughts on “The Playbook is dead! Long live the Playbook!

  1. Jeff- Great stuff. How did you specifically put the pdf file pages on the Card? Also, did you have to publish all your Hudl film to YouTube?

    • Lee,
      Thanks for the comment. Yes, using Tactilize, all the video is linked to YouTube, Vimeo, or a couple of other video hosting sites…. None of it is stored directly on the card. iBook Author allows you to embed video directly on the iBook… It is really a more elegant way of doing it.

      To put the text on the card, I actually converted the PDF files to jpegs… Again, in iBook Author you can embed PDF files keynote presentations movies, … Pretty much anything. The program is free, but there is a charge when you publish… That is why I just did the sample using Tactilize.

      I hope this helps… Feel free to ask any other questions you might have


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