Will the iPad Replace the Coach’s Clipboard?

iPads have infiltrated almost every fact of our daily personal and professional lives. You’ll now find Apple’s tablets in airplane cockpits, classrooms, doctor’s offices, and government buildings. Even President Obama regularly uses an iPad that he got from Steve Jobs himself.

It’s safe to say that iPads are quickly replacing former paper solutions left and right, and sports are no exception. Many coaches keep handbooks and clipboards with roster information, game plays, substitutions, and team strategies that they use on the sidelines during games. How long until these are all replaced with handy dandy iPads?

Well, it’s already happening. Quite a few sports teams are using the iPads as replacements for traditional paper playbooks. Back in August of 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the first to make the switch to an iPad, and other teams have sense followed suit.

Why an iPad? It’s easier to keep up to date, it’s easier to transfer information, and it prevents teams and coaches from having to lug around huge playbooks. Of course, there are drawbacks as well – iPads have to be charged, and updates have to be downloaded, tasks that some players have neglected to maintain.

For coaches, the iPad as a clipboard replacement tool is a no brainer. There are hundreds of apps that can be used for everything that a coach needs, from rosters to player notes, and quite a few coach-specific apps that can be used to draft plays and to help players improve (check out our list).

For example, iCoach Football allows coaches to draft game plans, and Coach’s Eye allows them to take slow motion video, which can later be edited and analyzed to improve player performance.

Those tasks, and many others, are so much simpler with an iPad than with a whiteboard or a notebook. An iPad can keep detailed records of notes, plans, and other information, something that is impossible with traditional recording methods. Most coaches would jump at the chance to adopt iPads for use during games.

Currently, the NFL bans computers and PDAs from the sidelines of games, and electronic gadgets are prohibited after batting practice has started by the MLB, but those restrictions must be lifted if the NFL, the MLB, and other sports teams want to stay current with technology. Paper isn’t going to be the medium of choice for much longer.

Does the iPad belong on the field? What do you think?

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