MARYVILLE, Mo. — Since the ability to record video became easily assessable, game film has become one of the most important things in sports. One business is making it easier for all of the Maryville High School athletics teams.
Founded in 2006, Hudl is a company providing tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage. The Lincoln, Nebraska, based company’s initial purpose served college and professional football teams, but today, Hudl provides video services to youth, amateur, and professional teams in other sports including soccer, basketball, volleyball and lacrosse.
Now, Hudl is a necessity across the state being the only way for coaches to share information anymore as the landscape is always constantly evolving.
One of these evolutions came in Summer 2019 as representatives contacted activities director Mat Beu with an opportunity to test its new camera “Hudl Focus.”
First, Beu was approached by the company a couple of years ago about trying out some new equipment. He said he wanted an option to live stream games for the fans, something the first camera Hudl had didn’t do.
“That’s always something we’ve thought about,” Beu said about live streaming. “… I thought it was really cool but if they could get a live stream option, that would definitely be for us. Then we could reach out to our fans who couldn’t make it to our games.”
With the opportunity to live stream games added, Beu and Maryville were on board, installing the camera in mid-August 2019. The goal was to have the camera up and running by the first volleyball match. It was ready a week before.
Permanently mounted high above the bleachers on the east wall in the high school gymnasium, Hudl Focus sits atop spectators and players, as the 5-by-10-by-8-inch box filled with four camera lenses and motion sensors captures everything happening on the floor.
“I don’t think we’ve missed a second of basketball at any level this season,” Beu said.
Beu linked the live streaming feature to Maryville’s YouTube page, streaming games from varsity to freshman. The athletic schedule syncs with the camera so it knows when to start automatically recording and to start broadcasting.
Boys head coach Matt Stoecklein has seen the benefits from both a coaching and parental standpoint. Stoecklein’s son, Caden, is a freshman on the varsity basketball team.
With some family members not being in Maryville, the live streaming feature allows his relatives to view the game from the comfort of their own homes.
“I have aunts and uncles, for Caden, and grandparents that when it’s a home game, they watch it on their TV live,” Stoecklein said. “Now the scoreboard is there because they have a camera that focuses on the scoreboard so they can hear the crowd noise too.”
Hudl has simplified film sharing across all activities. With the Hudl Assist program, teams send off their game or scout film to statisticians at Hudl, who will record statistics for the coaches in a matter of hours to save them time.
Hudl Assist sorts through the film to tag each made bucket, missed shot, rebound, steal and any other statistic imaginable to make the viewing experience even easier for teams. Not only does Hudl do it for Maryville’s clips, but they will also do it for the opponent as well, giving the coaches more time on the floor rather than going through video.
Girls basketball head coach Quentin Albrecht said he can remember driving to meet coaches to swap VHS tapes at Love’s Truck Stop in St. Joeseph — now all it takes is a couple of clicks and a few seconds to share.
“Now, I go home, I log onto Hudl,” Albrecht said. “Our film has been filmed and it’s in the video library. All I have to do is send it to Hudl Assist and they send it back to me fully statted.”
“The amount of information there is, I don’t understand it all completely, but I’m getting better,” Albrecht said.
Not only does the camera work for games, but it’s beneficial for practices as well. Coaches can now show players what they need to be doing with video instead of telling them what to do. The benefits, for both Stoecklein and Albrecht, go beyond that.
“If we want to film, I get my cellphone out, I hit a plus sign and it starts filming for five minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, whatever I want,” Stoecklein said. “We can have JV on one half, varsity on the other half and the camera can record multiple things going on at practice.”
Players have 24/7 access to the site and can watch films whenever they please through the Hudl mobile app. Coaches can send playlists of specific types of plays for the players to watch and study
“Some of the kids, if it’s there, they’ll watch it, without us even putting notes on it,” Stoecklein said.
Albrecht mentioned it’s now easier to create consistency in the youth program by showing other coaches what plays to run and how to run them effectively.
“If a youth coach would say, ‘Hey, what’s a couple of out of bounds plays you use?’ I would usually draw those up and explain them to them,” Albrecht said. “Or I can get five girls on the floor, film it through Hudl Focus and share that link with them.”
Hudl assures a lifetime warranty on the Focus camera and will replace it if damaged through normal wear and tear.
Beu said, earlier this year, representatives from the company were worried about the camera quality so they sent a repairman to look at it and replace the camera if need be.
“Just knowing there are people on the other end of that and there’s service after the sale is incredible,” Beu said. “You don’t always necessarily have that. … That’s what kind of makes them a first-class organization.”
Hudl is also working on a version of this camera for football. Finding the right combination of quality and sustainability makes the proposition interesting to Beu.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s something that comes down the pike here in the next few years, because people love the automation,” Beu said. “They like to be able to set it and walk away and know that it’s going to work every time.”