D-III Goes Digital

For D-I programs looking to find the extra edge in their team’s performance, an investment in today’s high-tech digital video system is a must-have item in looking for ways to improve positioning and game analysis. For D-III programs, the needs are the same but the technology is new to many and now affordable for most.

At Middlebury College, assistant coach Chris LaPerle has brought his expertise with video developed as a volunteer assistant with last year’s national champions in D-I, Denver University. “We had a real high-end system at DU,” LaPerle explained. “It could do just about anything you wanted it to do. It was an important part of our team’s preparation for games and evaluating individual shifts and plays. It was something that I grew comfortable with over the season in recording the games and setting up the program for players to best evaluate on-ice performance.”

So how does a D-III school introduce the digital realm to game preparation and evaluation? According to LaPerle, the players have become very adept at utilizing Middlebury’s new system. “They come in about once a week to review all aspects of the game. The players will break the game down to individual shifts and check on spacing, positioning, timing of passes, and check assignments and decisions made during the fast-paced game. Even the goalies will come in and review their positioning, look at goals and look for corrections where they can be addressed.”

The capabilities that the new digital age has brought enables teams to break down game films to individual frames and split second slow motion analysis of incredibly fast action. With special software, a custom Mac laptop and high-resolution digital camcorder, Middlebury is bringing a high-tech approach to player performance and reinforcing coaching directives. “Sometimes, the video captures exactly what we have been trying to explain with words and direction during the game or even in practice. It’s a case of the picture being worth a 1000 words. But then there are the other times when we see something and make a point to a player about something and when we re-visit it on film, we find that the player was right about his observation at the time. It can keep everyone on their toes.”

What about head coach Bill Beaney and his use of the video system? Has a very successful coach with his own methods embraced the new digital capabilities? “Coach is funny,” commented LaPerle. “When he brought me here, he told me to go out and find a system that could fit in our budget. Most of the cost is in the hardware but I found something that worked. Now he just needs to get set-up in the room and he just goes right through the stuff he wants to see. He definitely uses it.”

For now, the Panthers are trying to see their way clearly to another NCAA title. If they get there this weekend, part of their success will be framed on video.