High school football playoff game film just a click away with Hudl

For The Sun NewsNovember 13, 2013 

A little over a year ago, Loris football coach Jamie Snider spent an all-important preparation day not with his team, but in his car.

He was en route to Santee to meet members of Battery Creek’s football staff to exchange film for the Lions’ first game of the Class AA playoffs. There were other options, including a complicated system that involved emailing small sections of game film, but that chewed up even more time and energy than driving.

So Snider hit the road, making his way west to I-95 and then south another hour or so to a midway point between Loris and Battery Creek’s Beaufort campus.

Coaches around the Grand Strand, the state and country are slowly but surely eliminating those long drives during the most crucial portion of the year. Using an Internet-based system on Hudl.com, coaches are exchanging game tape with a mouse instead of a gas pedal.

And they’re not willing to go back to the old ways.

“Oh heck no. It gave me my Saturdays,” Snider said this week. “When I had to trade film with Battery Creek, I was in the car for three hours just to get film. The beauty of Hudl, it’s a huge time saver.”

Loris will play another team located more than three hours away this week when Ridgeland-Hardeeville comes to town on Friday. Unlike last year, the opposing teams had each other’s game film first thing Saturday morning, allowing coaches to start game-planning immediately.

The system – run out of Hudl’s headquarters in Lincoln, Neb. – isn’t free. Simple exchange memberships start at $200 annually. More extensive packages that hold practice video and even electronic playbooks start at $800 and range up to $6,000 for multi-sport deals. But it is worth every penny, especially to teams playing opponents also utilizing the service.

Founded in 2006, Hudl isn’t re-inventing the wheel. The program is similar to others college coaches have been using for more than a decade. And while NFL and college teams have now jumped on the Hudl bandwagon, it is more accessible and affordable to teams who don’t have large budgets, full video crews or staffs responsible for exchanging film. Of the nine high school football teams in Horry County, Green Sea-Floyds is the only school that doesn’t use it.

Hudl isn’t without its faults. Snider points out that the technology still relies on coaches’ ability to use it. Slower computers and tablets also aren’t guaranteed to display the software efficiently.

Security, as one team in Louisiana that had their playbooks hacked found out, can also be an issue. However, these are all minimal risks coaches are willing to take, especially during the playoffs. Teams rarely play opponents separated by three and four hours during the regular season, but that’s not the case in the postseason.

For example, North Myrtle Beach will head to Strom Thurmond on Friday. The 210-mile trip from North Myrtle Beach to Johnston is one of the furthest distances any playoff team will have to travel this year.

When it came to exchanging film, though, Chiefs coach Perry Woolbright had a better option than a meeting Rebel coaches somewhere near Columbia. Last week, when North Myrtle Beach played Orangeburg-Wilkinson in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs, the film exchange required members of the two coaching staffs to drive to Florence.

Woolbright also doesn’t use the system simply for game film. This season, he upgraded his Hudl package to allow him to distribute individualized films to his players.

“You can’t put a price on Hudl,” Woolbright said. “What you can do with it during the season. The way recruiting is nowadays, it’s something you’ve got to have.

“It will be soon where I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t require schools to have it for the convenience of it.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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