Inside Pitch Magazine, Winter 2014

The Hot Corner: 24 Ways to Use Technology for Productivity as a Coach

By Adam Revelette
Google Logo

1. Google it: Seriously. Anything you don't know off the top of your head is worth a shot on the World Wide Web. Chances are you're not the first person to wonder how something works, why something works, or why something isn't working! There's also a good chance that someone else has spent time figuring out your exact issue and has very kindly put that "how to" on the take advantage! There are countless resources available online that provide a wealth of free information on just about anything you can think of. Use Google to troubleshoot a few issues and you'll quickly become the "tech guru" around the office.

2. Live in the cloud(s): Henry David Thoreau once noted that "It is better to have your head in the clouds…" and well, he was on to something. Dropbox, Evernote, Apple's iCloud and Microsoft's SkyDrive are just a few examples of "cloud" services that will allow you to store practice schedules, workout regiments, throwing programs, random notes and anything else you would like. Being able to access this information from your cellphone or any computer with an internet connection will make you much more efficient in your work. You can even share files with your coaching staff to keep everyone in the loop.

3. Shared calendars: speaking of keeping everyone in the loop, sharing created events on your calendar with your staff is a phenomenal way for everyone to be on the same page in terms of who is going where throughout the year. This can be especially helpful for scheduling staff and team meetings/events or during the summer months when up to three coaches might be out of town recruiting.

4. Stopwatch: So you showed up to the showcase with no stopwatch. We've all been there. Never fear, your phone can do the trick. Even if you don't like using a touchscreen for "stop" and "go," apps like AnyCourseLite let you use the volume control switches on the side of your phone – just like the real thing!

5. Social Media: Even though a lot of time can be wasted checking Facebook or Twitter pages, being hooked in to social media helps connect you with the masses – when you want to be connected, that is. Twitter and Facebook accounts can help disseminate information to players, their parents, fans, and anyone else that happens to be interested in your program – all for free. Having these accounts available also helps you keep tabs on what your players might be putting out there for all to see. LinkedIn, considered a more "professional" network, provides a platform for you to store, update and distribute your resume with ease.

6. E-mail: Of course you already have e-mail, but is it a tool for productivity or a black hole of wasted time? Believe it or not, there are ways for your e-mail use to actually be productive. Create a "to-do" folder for tasks that aren't extremely time-sensitive; add a "follow-up" folder for individuals that you'd like to make an effort to keep in touch with; make a "camp/questionnaire" folder to manage the deluge of e-mails you get from Prospective Student-Athletes.

7. PowerPoint: Sign systems, bunt coverages, practice plans, team meetings and other presentations can be aided by the effective use of a PowerPoint. Save these on your computer (or in a cloud) over time so you can save time and refer back to them and make minor changes as necessary. 8. YouTube: There's no reason not to have a simple YouTube account for your program. Drills, practices, random interviews, even "commercials" advertising camps and other events should all be recorded on your team's YouTube channel. Also, you can easily control who can view your uploads and use them to promote your program, all for free.

9. Trackman: if you've got some room in your budget, you might consider using Trackman, a system that provides in-depth data on the baseball's position at pitcher's release and off the bat. Finding out who has the most RPM's on their curveball or the best exit speed off the bat is a subtle but proven way to gain an edge.

10. Spray charts: there are several services that can provide accumulative data on spray charts of your hitters and opponents. Considering the recent changes to the bat and the impending changes on the baseball, knowing where the data suggests to position your defenders might make the difference between a win or a loss.

11. Draw apps: if Joe Maddon does it, it's worth a shot. The Tampa Bay Rays' manager is known to use Penultimate to make out his lineups. "Draw" apps on your tablet can help you devise the perfect lineup, and come complete with a myriad of colors and the capability to quickly share your master plan.

12. Weather: reading the forecast in the morning paper is just not enough anymore, and while one weather app's information may not prevent the rain from coming, cross-checking a few of your favorite weather apps will give you a better idea of what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

13. Blogs: Why not? If you've ever even considered keeping a journal or notebook of your experiences, then starting a blog is worth a shot. While you may have to "filter" some of your thoughts from time to time, keeping a blog can be an easy way to catalog your observations over time.

14. Voice recording software: reminders, interviews, meetings, and practice notes can be hard to keep up with if you're writing everything down. A quick voice note (a capability that comes with every smartphone) will make sure those thoughts remain intact over time.

15. Navigation and maps: Before any road trip, check out recommended navigation and routes to take. Whether you're on the recruiting trail or loading up the team bus, there's just no excuse anymore to not know where you're going.

16. Reading list: If you're known to browse the web for information or inspiration, make sure you're keeping a reading list for, say, Inside Pitch magazine articles that you might not have time to dive into right now. Copying and emailing links and filing them into a "To Read" folder on your e-mail account is a good way to do this.

17. Camera: Take pictures of everything! Facilities, equipment, practice, team meetings, stuff you like from other places, everything! Take a picture of the practice plan, a tournament schedule or a team's roster so you don't have to dig for it later. Send them via e-mail to coaches to quickly communicate stuff you don't have time to write down.

18. Photo stream: look into your phone's ability to create and share PhotoStream (if you have an iPhone) folders to use amongst your staff or players. Past players in your uniform, facility upgrades, drills and more can be uploaded into your PowerPoint presentations to show recruits, emailed to your coaches to start some dialogue, or kept for yourself as reminders.

19. Screenshots: If you don't already know how to take a screenshot on your phone, learn how (hint: see no. 1). Don't have the time or ability to respond to a text? Take a screenshot of it so you don't forget about it. See a tweet that could be used as motivation? Have a note on your phone that you'd like to send via text? See something funny that you just have to capture right away? You get the point.

20. Firefox download helper: Load it up on your computer to pull highlights, videos and other multimedia to show off later. Note: make sure to read the Terms of Agreement so you're not doing anything illegal!

21. Google Earth: taking a trip to a place you've never been before? Look it up on Google Earth to find out where the field is and what might be in the area. This can also allow you to prepare for any games that the sun and wind (depending on where the field is positioned) might try to play on your team.

22. Bookmarks: Use them on your computer's browser for pages that you visit often. You can also save them directly to the home screen of your phone so you can pull up schedules, last year's statistics or anything else with one touch.

23. Reminders: need to do something two hours, two days or two months from now? Setting a reminder (in addition to making an archaic pen-and-paper list, if you must) is a great way to get it done without having to remember it!

24. Excel: You probably (hopefully) know all about Excel already, but using its math functions can really be helpful. Building worksheets that can track scholarship allotments and other statistics (positive plate appearance % and any sabermetric data you find useful, for example) will save you a ton of time.

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.