Training hard with hard drives


POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

Tom Hanks yells at Vin Diesel to get back in formation. Diesel disobeys the order to help a child, then is shot and killed by a German sniper because he left himself exposed.

That scene from “;Saving Private Ryan”; is one of Dave Aranda's favorites. He's used it in the past to show football players the importance of team unity and following instructions, and will probably use it again.

This is one method Hawaii coaches use to get a point across to their players in the Information Age.

“;Coach Mack (Greg McMackin) believes that way,”; said Aranda, UH's defensive line coach who doubles as the team's tech guru. “;He believes in the latest technology. He believes in using all the media available.”;

The Warriors coaches consider themselves at the forefront of the electronic arms race in college football by using innovative means to give their players mental reps.

It was kick-started by new video equipment last year that overhauled UH's outdated, hand-carted film system.

“;Now we're at the leading edge on how we present,”; McMackin said. “;We cut things up, we show movies for motivation. Players are all computer literate and play video games, so just drawing Xs and Os doesn't get their attention anymore.”;

That's where the PowerPoint presentations come into play. That system has phased out hand-written schemes drawn up on chalkboards or screened on overhead projectors.

“;It does things like 'ZOOM, ZAP,'”; said McMackin, who didn't hide his enthusiasm as he made chopping motions with his hand to go along with the sound effects. “;It does things to get their attention, guys moving, then we have actual video and have it spliced in.”;

UH can interweave clips of NFL teams to display how to execute a technique, or highlight a particularly tricky play by an upcoming opponent. Meanwhile, the coaches can draw on the screen using a digital marker, a la John Madden in Monday Night Football.

Aranda said the UH coaches have also talked about implementing a teaching tool called “;Eyes of the Linebacker”; that Aranda and McMackin used at Texas Tech in 2000 and 2001, when Aranda was a graduate assistant and McMackin the Red Raiders' associate head coach.

“;We would have our scout offense run a play by Central Arkansas, and position Chris Williams with a camera in the position a linebacker would be on the field. We would film it from the player's perspective,”; Aranda said. “;Then we drew up the play, on PowerPoint, here's how they block it. Then you show the (opponent footage) clip. Then we'd show the Eyes of the Linebacker. One, two, three.”;

Aranda foresees the coaches exploring new techniques as the tech race continues to evolve, such as using Madden NFL video games to implement new offensive and defensive schemes.

“;I could see coming in to see the coaches' offices almost really kind of going away,”; Aranda said.





Warriors coaches diagram X's and O's electronically with sound effects to keep players' attention during meetings. Replaced chalkboards, whiteboards, etc.






UH and opponent video clips are easily compiled and replayed in the Internet age. Coaches can make points on screen with a digital marker, or show a movie clip to get a point across. Removed the hassle of transporting heavy film to the viewing room.






Players have taken the initiative to download content on their iPods and iPhones for their own viewing. Footage of specific plays and formations can be called up at a moment's notice as a new memorization tool.