By Brad Fauber
Technology continues to embed itself deeper and deeper into the sporting world, and one technological advancement has begun to change how high school teams study game film and scout opponents for upcoming contests.
Hudl, an internet-based video software program, was introduced in 2006 as a way to streamline the film-study process by allowing coaches to store all of their game film and play diagrams in one place. The software quickly caught on, and over the last few years, Hudl has become a hit with high school football teams in the area.
"It's a unique tool. I know our coaches like it and our kids like it," Strasburg football coach Mark Roller said. "The biggest thing is we can put game film and scout film on there and our players can watch it at their convenience. It kind of breaks up the monotony of it."
The concept of Hudl is simple -- coaches can upload videos from past games into the program, and each one of their players can access the data whenever and wherever they want through either the website or through an application for mobile devices.
The videos can be cut and edited easily through the program itself, and coaches can even type notes that will pop up during the film or use voice narration to provide input into what their players are seeing on the screen.
Coaches can also monitor which players are logging on to study game film on their own time, as well how often they get on and how long they spend using the software.
"It's a wonderful system in so many ways," Skyline football coach Heath Gilbert said. "Hudl is tremendous for every coach."
Coaches have praised the software's ability to save time when it comes to film study and preparation. Roller said Strasburg -- which has used Hudl for two seasons -- has been able to cut back on the amount of time spent in the film room because players can now do the required work from home, and more time can be committed to on-field practice.
Hudl also eliminates the need to burn film to DVDs, as the video can be uploaded from a memory card directly to the internet.
The software has become so popular among high school football teams that the Bull Run District now requires each of its schools to use it, according to Central athletic director Kenny Rinker. The district has a film-exchange policy that requires teams to trade two game films one week before the schools are scheduled to play each other, according to Rinker, and Hudl has made scouting opponents a less strenuous process, as coaches can now quickly trade game film through the software.
"It's such a big advantage in that you really don't have to send scouts out anymore," Rinker said.
Hudl has also made an impact on the recruitment process for athletes who hope to play football in college.
The system allows players to create their own individual highlight reels and post them to their Hudl profiles, where college scouts and coaches can easily access them.
Roller said Hudl played a vital role in Strasburg senior Troy Gordon's commitment to play football at Alderson-Broaddus (W.Va.) next season, as Roller was able to quickly send Gordon's personal highlights to the school's coaching staff.
Gilbert said the same about the college recruitment process for Skyline senior Nick Helmick, who will play for Edinboro (Pa.) University next season. Gilbert said the ability of the players to create their own highlight reels is a bonus for coaches, who used to have to compile highlights for college scouts.
"It saves me so much time," Gilbert said. "Basically I was in charge of putting together personal highlight films. I don't have to do that anymore."
Hudl isn't just for football, however. Many high schools in the area are beginning to expand the use of the software to other sports, including basketball, wrestling, soccer, volleyball and even cheerleading.
Stonewall Jackson is the lone school in the area that has yet to use the Hudl program, as the school was hesitant to rush into a financial commitment to new video software, according to Stonewall athletic director Todd Fannin.
Stonewall will soon be joining the craze, however, as Fannin said the athletic department will purchase the program this spring, and Fannin hopes to have Hudl up and running for the fall season.
"In our profession you really have to filter. There are a lot of bandwagon programs," Fannin said. "We just decided to say, 'Hey, let's see what the ins and outs of [Hudl] are with everyone else first."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com