By Enrico Caballero
21-November-2019 on Tips10 minute read
Everybody loves a new gadget right? Especially when it helps us work more efficiently.
Here at Nacsport we’re no different.
In fact, because we spend so much of our time visiting clubs and speaking with analysts we get to see lots of their smart new gadgets being tested out first hand. Often, we see the same tools at different clubs, which we take to mean they're pretty good. And occasionally, we'll even invest in them ourselves.
So in this post, we decided to delve into the subject of time-saving and productivity-boosting gadgets for sports analysts, gather up our favourites and share them with you.
The following are all tools that have been recommended to us - and thoroughly tested - by some of the best analysts in sport.
Assuming you already own the necessary hardware - a computer or laptop - and the Nacsport software required to tag games, it’s time to start thinking about upping your game and investing in some new toys;
Originally considered as a tool for gamers, streamers and vloggers, Stream Deck offers options and possibilities that can take some of the strain from your workload - especially during a game.
Essentially, Stream Deck is an additional keyboard, containing 15 programmable LCD buttons, which users can configure as they like. It’s a perfect tool to eliminate unnecessary ‘mouse work’ - replacing the need for tedious strings of clicks with a single button.
It’s especially useful for both recording the action and playing back presentations or final video reports, adding the potential to introduce new graphical resources, video or audio.
Presumably, you already use a tripod-mounted camera to record games and ensure you have great quality video.
But what about the growing number of analysts who prefer to record - or tag - using an iPad, phone or tablet? To ensure you don’t lose focus we recommend considering a Joby GorillaPod tripod.
Available in a range of sizes (and prices) to suit most devices, GorillaPods are flexible and infinitely adjustable. Particularly well-suited to iPads, some models also double up as a support for your video camera too.
Let’s talk battery life - and that sinking feeling you get when the device you’re working on begins to warn of imminent shutdown. For most of us it’s an inconvenience. But if you’re an analyst, relying on video cameras, tablets or laptops to complete your work, one dead battery can effectively call time on your whole game.
Same thing applies when you’re on the road. Away games and pre-season matches have always offered an opportunity for analysts to catch up on their pre or post-match reports.
So it’s important to find a portable charger like the Belkin Pocket 5K PowerPack, that can take the strain. The Belkin is affordable, comes with 2 USB ports - so you can charge multiple devices - and its compact design makes it easy to pack away when not in use.
External hard disks
Video uses space, lots of space. And if you’re not managing your hard drive regularly it can easily fill up with old recordings and slow down your machine.
One solution we notice many analysts rely on is an external hard disk - for storing older work. Actually, as their reliability improves, we notice more and more professionals capture games directly onto external drives, leaving their laptops free to function at full speed.
2 units perform notably well in our experience. Both are conveniently sized and weigh about the same.
If you prefer an old school hard disk drive, the Toshiba Canvio Basics - available in 3 sizes; 1TB, 2TB and 4TB - will not disappoint. Reasonably priced and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it’s USB 3.0 connection is capable of lightning-fast download speeds.
For those with a little more cash to splash, the SSD Samsung T5 runs 4 times faster than its quickest hard disk rivals and comes in a range of sizes from 250GB up to 2TB. The Samsung is a highly evolved piece of kit and ideal if you want to record video in high quality.
Ask any professional analyst what they find most annoying about their job and most will offer the same reply. Finding enough electrical points to power up all their kit. Because while your own training facilities, or home stadium, may be set up just the way you want it, it’s highly likely that you’ll encounter working environments less well equipped away from home.
It may not be as attention-grabbing as a new tripod or power pack, but in this section we’re going to list a few of the basic tools and equipment you’ll need to make working as comfortable as possible, wherever you are...
As a minimum, we suggest a terminal strip with at least 4 sockets. That will give you enough supply to power up your laptop and camera, with room to spare.
If your work requires international travel, you won’t need us to remind you of the need for a universal plug adapter. Our preference here is the i-mee Universal Adaptor, which comes with a surprisingly attractive price tag. Clear markings (USA, UK or Europe) make it very easy to use, while the sturdy design and a convenient travel pouch means you won’t have to worry about squashing your i-mee in with the rest of your kit.
Another must-have tool for analysts on the move is a rapid way to charge up devices. And nothing we’ve tried comes close to AUKEY’s Quick Charge 3.0 USB Multi-charger.
Given its size the AUKEY is a deceptively powerful unit, capable of delivering power through all 6 of its USB ports simultaneously. Frequently exceeding device speculations, the AUKEY is fast too and excellent value for money, making it one of the most common accessories used by professional analysts.
Whether it’s to cut out crowd noise, listen to their favourite tunes or simply focus on what’s happening at pitch level, we see a lot of analysts opting to wear headphones while they work.
Whatever you want to hear, we think you’ll find the Sony MDR-ZX110NAB headset offers a winning combination of functionality and affordability. Sony has addressed the quietness issue that dogged their headphones for years, so even in a packed stadium you’ll be able to hear your favourite track - and with the built-in noise-cancellation function, even the rowdiest crowd shouldn’t interfere too much with your analysis.
Affordable, beautifully designed and with a mammoth 80hr battery life, the MDRZX110NABs also come at a very affordable price.
The Yokata waterproof case for iPad may seem like a no-brainer to pack as standard, but you’d be amazed by some of the stories we hear - about analysts trying to protect their gear from the elements.
Analysing a match on your tablet in January, in the pouring rain, is never going to be fun. Throw in the need to safeguard your gear from the wet and you have a real problem on your hands.
The Yokata is especially useful if you’re a Tag&View user, working on an iPad in real-time. Designed for sailors and divers, it’s 100% waterproof and has the advantage of protecting your screen at the same time as keeping it dry. Simple design also means it plays well with Joby’s GorillaPod tripod and includes a handy neckstrap.
Finally, you’ll need something to carry all that new kit around in and we have the perfect solution. The Homiee Transport backpack is big enough to fit a small TV studio inside, and has plenty of internal pockets to organise your equipment.
A built-in USB port and headphones jack add to practicality, while Homiee’s compact waterproof design and anti-theft pockets make it the ideal ‘carry on’ travel partner.
So there you have it. Our seasonal selection of accessories and kit to help you work better, faster and smarter.