Tools of the Trade: Using Google Drive for Coach Collaboration

Originally written by Coach Brandon Behnfeldt and posted on his blog Gridiron R&D

I was participating in the #txhsfbchat on Twitter last night and a question was posed about what technology do you use to help install an offense or defense…Great question!!!

So, the first thing that came to mind was Hudl…great tool to show film and cutups, great scouting tool, and has playbook making capabilities.

But that is when I remembered what we used at the last program I worked at…Google Drive.

We started using Google Drive about 2 years ago when one of the coaches on staff starting sharing team documents through it. I had not messed with Google Drive before, but right away I felt very comfortable with the formats. The documents you can make with Google Drive are very similar to the formats of Microsoft Office programs. Google Docs is equivalent to Word, Google Sheets is equivalent to Excel, and Google Slides is equivalent to PowerPoint. So from the start, there is a familiarity there due to the formats Google Drive shares with Office formats.

We would type up rules sheets on Google Docs, player rosters/depth charts on Google Sheets, and draw up schemes on Google Slides.

The one difference that makes Google Drive amazing over Office…Collaboration!!!

The ability to simply type in an email address and share a file on Google Drive is awesome. You can create a document and not just share it, but allow the person you shared the document with to alter the document and work with you on the same document (at the same time!!!).

Here is a few intro videos Google created to explain Google Drive/Google Docs:

All you need is a computer, a free gmail account, and you have access to all these great programs that allow great collaboration.

So how does this apply to football?

In the off season before the 2013 season, the defensive coordinator and I wanted to change the defense to a 4-3 Cover 4 defense, similar to Michigan State. We wanted to look at every formation an offense could possibly get into vs our defense and see how our base rules fit against the formation.

We started out by drawing up all the formations on Google Slides, labeling every formation and aligning our base defense against it. The DC and I would be working on the same document, same time, inputting all the formations, labels, and defenses. This is where the cool part comes in…there is a chat feature within every Google Drive program!!! So while we are working, we can chat to one another, using the chat box that is featured in the programs.

Most of us have families…so we can get very busy and have many other responsibilities beyond football. This ability to collaborate online, without being in the same room, is a time saver and it allows you to be at home with your family, take care of any needs at home, and still work on football at the same time. When this was all going on, I had a newborn in the house and the DC had 3 kids of his own that he had to take care of. Google Drive allowed us to be home for our families if they needed us, but we could be online talking football and working on schemes at the same time.

The Google Drive programs also have some great features that help with collaboration in a big way. The feature is great because as all of you work on the document together, you can chat things out on the fly. The other feature that is great  is the comment “Sticky note” feature, especially if you and the other coaches are on different schedules and cannot get on at the same time. When you hit the comment button, it allows you to leave a “sticky note” on a slide or page of a document. This creates a running chat that you can type your thoughts on the scheme and the other coaches will see it when they log into the document. I use to leave notes all the time to tell the DC to tweak this or that on a certain slide…very handy and allows collaboration without having to be on at the same time.

Here is another Google video on discussions:

Some of the coaches on the chat asked if we did this with players…No, we didn’t, but I could see some great positives with using Google Drive with players. You can have a chalk talk from home and have a time where both you and the players can draw stuff up and discuss how to attack/defend the scheme. Rules can shared and then discussion among coaches and players.

The key is you need to get Google Drive running and just experiment with it!!! 

You can find all kinds of videos like what I shared on this article to help explain to you how Google Drive works. Also, feel free to contact me and I can walk you through some things.

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