Saturday, September 4, 2010

ChalkTalk Diagrams

Gary McDonald is the middle school baseball coach of Cary Academy (NC) and quite simply one of the best coaches I know. He’s a student of the game who is always working on new drills and plays. In the three seasons I've known him, I've watched him improve the game of a hundred kids while he's improved his game as a coach. I can testify that his players advance their skills and have fun doing so – the true measure of a youth sports coach.

Gary is also an early adopter and frequent contributor to the ChalkTalk telestrator. It was his travel team – the Cary Chargers - that first made the system a regular part of their drills and practice. So, its no surprise that when I showed Coach McDonald the baseball diagrams feature of PowerChalk, he immediately made it a part of his routine.

ChalkTalk Diagrams are interactive fields with a movable ball and players. Just like a video analysis, you can record your session while you comment and mark-up. Envisioned as an electronic clipboard that would allow the coach to build a library of plays and diagram, Gary saw another use for the diagrams – homework.

Instead of simply giving the players a video to watch and learn, he asked his players to echo the plays back to him via their own ChalkTalks. He could then assess their level of comprehension.

Cut 4 ChalkTalk by 13 year-old travel player

The results were game changing. “Our players were consistently in the right positions”, the coach told me. “Even the players coming off the bench." As a small-ball team, the execution and positioning became a signature of the team's play. They over-achieved coming in second in the state tournament. "This team developed as much in a single season as any team I've coached", said coach Gary.

At the season's end, when asked to vote for the parent that helped the team most, the players voted for me although I had been gone for a year. Effectively, they voted for PowerChalk. It's an honor I share with Coach McDonald. His persistence and innovation made PowerChalk more than it was. Impressive, but then again, that's what great coaches do.

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