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The drone zone

Technology is changing how players and coaches view the game


Jeremy Henning is a kicker, but he isn’t as isolated or withdrawn on the sidelines during practice as most high school kickers.

The Highlands Ranch senior works during the usual field goal and punting drills but he also pilots the drone that the Falcons use to record parts of practice.

“Now I can go and look like I’m doing something at least,” Henning said. “One of the coaches (Brian Krzeminski) owns the drone. He started bringing it to practice but he had to be coaching as well. He needed somebody to fly it. I don’t always do stuff at practice so he asked me to fly it. It was kind of simple to do it.”

Technology — including drones and some popular software that helps with performance analysis — has changed the way coaches and players review practices and games.


Camera-equipped drones are used by several area schools to record quality video from practices and scrimmages, giving coaches the ability to evaluate performance and provide visual instruction to players.

“We use the film to learn what we need to improve upon before our next practice,” Highlands Ranch coach Mark Robinson said. “Also, we show the players clips of what they need to improve upon before we conduct the next practice.”

Mountain Vista and Legacy are among other area schools using drones. Coaches or managers usually operate the drone during practices.

“We use it to film team and scrimmage periods,” Legacy coach Wayne Voorhees said. “It is easier to use than filming behind the offense with an iPad.”

The digital card in the drone records the footage and the card can be downloaded and transferred to phones, laptops or iPads.

While Drones can be used in practices and scrimmages, the Colorado High School Activities Association prohibits the use of unmanned aerial vehicles at CHSAA-sanctioned games.


Many Colorado schools use Hudl, a product and service of Agile Sports Technologies, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, to film action during games and practices. A variety of Hudl football packages are available ranging from $800 to $3,000 a season.

According to its website, www.hudl.com, here’s what schools are getting:

“Hudl is a leading software company revolutionizing the way coaches and athletes prepare for and stay ahead of the competition… Hudl now offers the tools to edit and share video, study associated play diagrams, and create quality highlight reels for entertainment and recruiting purposes. The whole experience is available online, giving coaches and athletes secure access at home and on the go.”

As many as 100 teams in Colorado use at least one of the company’s products, according to Hudl.

Hudl provides an aide for coaches who can download video onto players’ phones, laptops and iPads. During games, coaches can watch film immediately after an offensive or defensive series. Video exchanges with future opponents can be done the morning after a game.

“I have used Hudl since 2006 and believe it is one of the best things that has happened for high school football,” Lutheran coach Stephen Robbins said. “It is a huge tool not only for exchanging film, but utilizes the ability to enhance learning and football IQ by allowing the athletes to view film and have access to coaches’ comments, assessments and critique.”

Hudl’s Sideline product uses cameras in or above the press box, which feeds video to iPads on the sidelines where coaches and players can view the footage.

“Hudl is an irreplaceable tool that we use daily,” Holy Family coach Mike Gabriel said.

“Hudl has made life a lot easier for coaches, instead of having to drive and exchange DVDs for film exchange, now we can just click a couple things and the exchange is done immediately,” Ponderosa coach Jaron Cohen said. “Hudl allows us to get detailed breakdowns on tendencies for both ourselves and opponents.”

Valor Christian downloads up to 15 plays by 9 a.m. the next morning after practice or a game for players to watch.

“Technology has changed things a lot,” Valor coach Rod Sherman said. “You see a lot of what you are doing well and not doing well. Anytime you can watch, you will do better.”

Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said one of the biggest advantages of using Hudl is the film exchange with other schools.

“It makes it much easier to get scout film from other schools,” he said. “That has saved us time driving across the state to exchange film and since we travel to other states, it makes it so much easier, rather than mailing DVDs.”

Still, there are some things using Hudl can’t provide.

“In the old days, you had to trade film in person,” Robinson said. “You got to know the coaches you were competing against. It helped build camaraderie among coaches. Today, we trade film online, and in most cases, do not speak to one another.”


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