About This Project
For the capstone project of the MS in HCI program, I was given the liberty to find an opportunity in a domain of my interest and design a solution from start to finish - including problem framing, research, design and prototyping. After exploring spaces such as mobile payment and online dating, I decided to focus on sports - especially at a high school or collegiate level.
Reduce the cognitive load on coaches and help them make informed decisions.
From my preliminary analysis of the space, I found that most high school coaches rarely use technological aides during games or training sessions. They still use pen & paper to record notes and manage them manually. I saw this as an opportunity to reduce their mental load and help them make informed decisions.
- Limited resources - Unlike professional teams, high school teams are usually strapped for resources and cannot afford expensive technology. Therefore, the proposed solution would have to be inexpensive and not require a lot of overhead to implement.
- Scalable to other sports - The proposed solution should be versatile enough to be used in any high school sport like Basketball, Football, Baseball, Softball etc.
The target audience of the proposed design would be high school and college coaches. To begin, I constrained myself to soccer coaches only - this helped me conduct a more focused research and build a prototype for testing, but I ensured the design would be applicable to other sports as well.
Research - Interviews
To get a better understanding of a coach’s typical workflow, I interviewed 3 coaches with varying levels of experience. During the semi-structured interviews, the participants were asked to talk about a typical day in the life of a coach, how they prepare for a game or training session, what metrics they usually track and what methods they use to track them.
Alex G & Erin M are former college basketball players turned coaches. Kevin D is a full-time high school soccer coach. The interviews were conducted remotely - over Skype or phone call - and lasted about an hour each.
Insights from Interviews
From the interviews and other secondary research, here are some characteristics I observed about the target audience:
- Self-motivated - Some coaches have different day jobs and only coach part-time to help the local school. This shows self-motivation and dedication.
- Varying levels of technical skills - High school coaches come from diverse backgrounds, therefore it is hard to estimate a base level of technical savvy. Any proposed solution should be usable by even the most basic users.
- Open to change - I found the coaches I interviewed to be receptive to change and have an open mind towards new tools to help them.
Coachly is a mobile/tablet application that facilitates rapid logging of player and team statistics during a soccer game.
Coachly in the Wild
Photo: Evan Tank, Featuring: AJ Ginther
Using Coachly, the coaching staff can quickly log events in a soccer game such as passes, shots and goals in real-time. These statistics could be stored in a centralized database which the entire team can access. They can then use this over the course of a season to review player performances and make informed decisions regarding starting lineups and substitutions which could give them an advantage.
Events such as passes and crosses happen in quick succession during a game, so the user should be able to log each event with as few gestures as possible. There should also be an option to review all the events that were logged and edit some if required. For less frequent events such as goals or fouls, detailed information should be captured - such as distance from goal, angle of approach etc.
A typical use-case would be an assistant coach on the sideline using a touchscreen device to log events as they happen on the field, as illustrated in the picture above.
Research - Artifact Analysis
Before desiging the interface, I analysed existing applications like FIFA 16 Ultimate Team, Digital Scout, PES 2016 and others that perform similar tasks to get some inspiration.
Screenshots of FIFA 16 and Digital Scout
From the analysis, I gathered that digitally replicating the field of play is a very effective method since the coaches would already be familiar with the team's formation and each player's position.
The prototype shown above is designed to replicate the formation used by the team on the field. This makes it easy for the coach to recognize players, which is crucial for efficiency. Each player is represented using a 'player card' which includes basic information like their name, number, position and a photograph. The jersey number is shown prominently for quicker recognition.
On the sides of the cards are buttons that capture specific events. Clicking on the player card reveals more detailed options, which should ideally be used when the game has paused, giving the coach more time to record such events.
This prototype was built using HTML, CSS and jQuery. Behind the scenes, the prototype prints each event to the browser's console so the full log of events can be reviewed after the test.
To show Coachly in action, I created a short concept video.
How Usable is Coachly?
The prototype was evaluated over the course of 2 tests with participants who have a good knowledge of soccer and have played competitively in high-school.
During the test, the participants were shown a replay of a soccer game on TV and asked to use the prototype to log events in that game, for a duration of 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the test was paused and the participants were asked to share their opinions on the prototype. Based on their input, minor changes were made to the prototype and the test resumed with the participants logging the same portion of the game using the new prototype. At the end of the test, the log of events were reviewed to provide a more quantitative result to the test.
The metrics used while testing were:
- Efficiency: does the prototype facilitate rapid logging of events?
- Granularity: does the prototype allow the user to log different types of events like passes, interceptions, tackles, shots and goals?
- Engagement: does the prototype keep the user engaged?
"Combination-passes happen so quickly, there isn’t enough time to record those" - Mikaela
Test #1 - Mikaela
Using the first version, Mikaela was able to capture 10 events, mostly related to passing. However, using the iterated version, she was able to capture 19 events, including interceptions and headers. This indicates a 90% increase in efficiency between the original and iterated versions of the prototype.
"The interface got more familiar as I used it" - Stephanie
Test #2 - Stephanie
Using the first version, Stephanie was able to capture 25 events. However, using the iterated version, she was able to capture 35 events. This results in a 40% increase in efficiency between the original and iterated versions of the prototype.
Based on feedback from the participants, the player card was iterated to show the event buttons right on the card, thereby reducing the number of clicks required to capture any event.
Player Card Version 1
Player Card Version 2
How Can Coachly Be Improved?
- Remove unnecessary stats: Both the test participants mentioned that passes aren’t important events. Removing that would reduce the workload for the user and can make the interface look less cluttered.
- Better feedback: Currently, there isn’t enough prominent feedback that an event has been captured. This can be addressed by having a log displayed on the side with the full list of events, which updates every time a new event is added.
- Use voice commands: Future versions could use voice commands instead of touch-based gestures. This would facilitate more efficient logging and further reduce cognitive load.
- Trial mode: To help the users get familiar with the interface, we could provide a trial mode where they can practice using the app without affecting their team stats.
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