Six-time Texas state champion Lake Travis High School deploys Modern Football Technology to harness the power of analytics for a competitive advantage.
Coaches leveraging technology to gain a competitive advantage is nothing new in the sport of football. Technology has played a pivotal role in game preparations since Paul Brown first turned on a video camera to scout opponents and improve his own team’s practice habits. It seems absurd now, but there was a time when the “eye in the sky” was railed against by traditionalists. Now, it’s a default setting for any program, and fans now even consume All-22 film as entertainment.
If you’ve watched any game on television the past few years, you’re aware of the current wave of innovation – analytics. And like the use of film study to aid in practice and game planning, analytics has its early adopters, its curious followers, and its “that’s not how we do things around here” crowd.
But analytics is not some alien or arcane discipline. The NFL began keeping official statistics in 1932. So since the year toilet brushes were invented, coaches have been checking performance expectations against the numbers. And analytics at the core are merely advanced statistics.
We can now thrust these numbers through modern computing power to transform past performance into probabilities of future results in microseconds. This predilection for prediction is modern football.
Early predictive technology was either inaccurate too often, too expensive for budgets outside top corporations or government agencies, or too complex for most of us to learn. But current predictive analytics is not a Magic 8 ball or a Rubik’s cube. It is accurate, affordable, and simple to use.
Lake Travis Self-Scout and Game Plan Tool
Self-scouting is an undervalued and underperformed function of a post-game review. It tells us a lot about our team and how an opponent views us. It also allows us to put together better practice plans, game plans, and in some states, game-day decision making.
In Austin, Texas, the six-time state champion Lake Travis Cavaliers use state-of-the-art computing power to improve their self-scout and game planning. On the offensive line, the data keeps the run game moving forward and blitzes picked up all season long. OL coach AJ Antonescu recently joined the podcast to discuss how Lake Travis prioritizes these activities throughout the season.
Coach Antonescu and the rest of the Lake Travis staff dig into the data to ask themselves better questions about their successes and failures on game day.
“A huge benefit of [self-scouting] comes from constantly looking back at where can we be better, where do teams feel like they have an advantage against us, and how can we counter that advantage,” says Antonescu. “You can pick up on the philosophy of the defense and how they wanted to attack you week by week.”
To streamline workflows, the Lake Travis staff leans heavily on the new platform from Modern Football, the Sacramento-based football analytics software company recently awarded with a Dorfman Incubator Grant.
“Over the course of an entire week, if I had to take a guess, it probably eliminates somewhere between eight to ten hours of [manual] input,” Antonescu explains. “That’s pretty incredible in my opinion, especially at the high school level when you’re constantly being pulled from just football.”
“What I like about those tools being developed now is they’re relatively inexpensive and the user interface is becoming better and better,” adds Coach and Coordinator Podcast host Keith Grabowski. “It’s just a few taps on a tablet to get the data entered and have useful insights.”
The Future Is Now
The coaches who win year in and year out always seek out current trends and technologies that can be competitive advantages.
Modern Football does well for Lake Travis right now with its self-scout and game planning capabilities. It can do more in the future if the state of Texas permits technology into press boxes on game days. Some schools in states following NFHS rules already use tech in the press box for real-time intelligence and predictive analytics.
“What I like about how Lake Travis is viewing this is with the technology they use, they see the advantage that they’ll have as the rules change,” says Grabowski. “And when they do, they’ll already have overcome the learning curve with a new technology.”
“I’m a big believer in you either adapt or you die,” Antonescu says. “The people who embrace this [technology] are going to make the game of football better… Once Texas gives [in-game technology] a thumbs up, we’re going to use that immediately.”
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