Using Technology to Communicate with Your Program

as appeared in the NABC’s Winter 2011 Timeout Magazine (http://bit.ly/h7RF7X)…

High school coaches have seen their jobs change significantly in recent years.  Emerging technologies in schools have players, parents, and administrators expecting information to be available at their fingertips.  In schools where parents can check their student’s grades in real time, they grow accustomed to being informed up to the minute on the happenings surrounding their child.  Students who are engaged all day in interactive classroom learning and spend hours per week gaming, texting, and interacting via social networking sites have come to expect to be entertained when learning and now crave technological stimulation.

Here are four ways to use technology to better communicate with your program:

1.  Use familiar technologies to teach the game.
Work with the technology your school is using in the classroom to enhance the teaching you do with your players.  If your school has smart boards and video projectors installed in classrooms, find a way to incorporate that in your film sessions.  If your school is using interactive student response systems or “clickers,” use those to quiz your players on a scouting report, when teaching your program’s basketball vocabulary, or when installing pieces of your offensive or defensive systems.  If you are unfamiliar with the technologies being used to engage students in your school, you may lose touch with how they are accustomed to learning.

2.  Create an online library (and go “Green” in the process!)
You can save yourself all kinds of time and resources by making documents available on a team website either done on your own or through your school.  If parents and players can access team schedules, player workouts, practice plans, scouting reports, playbooks, required forms, team policies, contact information and relevant articles about your team or about basketball in general  all in one central location, you can virtually do away with having to take the time to print and copy these items and distribute manually.  In most cases you will be able to easily define who has access to what information.  Best of all, players can be held accountable for having the necessary materials you require without possibility of the “dog ate my homework” excuse and teaching them how to retrieve electronic documents is a skill they will carry with them into college and/or the job market.

3.  Embrace the text message (but set up boundaries!)
Gone are the days of the phone tree.  Now, coaches can set up a group list on their phone and send a message to all players and coaches at once notifying them of schedule changes, sending them reminders, or collecting information quickly and easily.  Coaches should be careful to make sure their players can receive text messages and that they are not paying extra for incoming texts.  Also, it is a good idea to have a rule that texts are to be used for information distribution only, and that it is not acceptable to text a coach to tell them you won’t be attending a team event.  This is especially important in the offseason because it is much easier for a player to send a text letting the coach know that they will be absent than it is for them to tell that coach to their face.  Finally, never let text messages replace real conversations with your players.

4.  Promote your program with social media
Creating a program Twitter account or Facebook page will allow you to distribute information to the community free of charge.  Use it to draw fans to games, promote team events, or just update your fans on the progress of the team.  Include your link on your team website and in your e-mail signature, ask the announcer to mention it during timeouts at your home games, and publish the link on signage around the school.  Your fans (especially students) will appreciate the information and feel closer to your team.

The recent drastic changes in both communication and in contemporary teaching methods should encourage coaches to look at their current methods and consider updating if necessary.  Finding coaches on your staff who understand and use these technologies regularly gets easier each season.  Taking a little time to set up these systems will end up saving you time in the long run, and that will allow you to focus on what matters most – coaching your team!

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