iPhone applications for coaches

In 2011, November and December have been active months for the distribution of iPhone applications related to curling. In this article I want to highlight three of them: the Curling Strategy Board, the CurlingZone mobile application, and the curling.ca/mobile application from the Canadian Curling Association. All of these are available on the iPhone and iPad platforms and can be purchased through Apple’s iTunes on Apple’s AppStore.

The Curling Strategy Tool

On December 20, Jeff Rogers of ROG made available Version 3.0 of the Curling Strategy Tool.

The Curling Strategy Tool has been available on Apple’s App Store for some time, and offers a variety of useful features for remembering those game situations that you want to review post-game or at a subsequent practice. What I like about the Strategy Tool is the plethora of options: you choose the house orientation, rock colours, and size and colour of the pen ink that you use to annotate the situation. You can save situations on the iPhone itself, either in the Strategy Board application or to the photo album in the Camera application; once there, you can post the diagram to Facebook or anywhere else. Alternatively, you can also email the diagrams directly from within the Strategy Tool application, either to yourself or to anyone else – including the players. You can add additional commentary in the email about, for example, the FESRAIN factors in effect at the time.

The Strategy Tool application also supports a “zoom” mode so as to precisely orient the stones in play. If you want, you can take a screen shot – using the iPhone’s power button and main menu button simultaneously – of the close-up zoom, and save this separately and email it along with the entire diagram.

The Strategy Tool application does not keep score during the game – but it does do a nice job of enabling you the coach to capture the essence of a shot selection problem for further review later.

Cost is $0.99 on the Apple AppStore.

The CurlingZone Mobile application

On November 19, Mobywan Corporation began offering the latest version (3.0) of the CurlingZone Mobile application for iPhone.

The CurlingZone Mobile application offers a wide variety of content. CZ Mobile offers full line scores for Grand Slam, World Curling Tour (WCT) events, Ontario Curling Tour (OCT) events, and Ontario Junior Curling Tour (OJCT) events. It also lists team rosters and rankings for men’s and women’s rinks on the OJCT tour, and the news feed from the OJCT website.

This latest version of CZ Mobile also offers syndication of a variety of popular curling blogs, including the various bloggers (such as Mort Cooper) published on the CCA website, commentator Bob Weeks, and a variety of blogs from across Canada and Europe.

For coaches, the CZ Mobile application also includes a strategy board and a “rock book” that allows you to make notes about specific stones. The app’s strategy board isn’t as configurable as that offered by the ROG’s Curling Strategy Tool – stone colour, for example, is fixed at red and blue, and the board lacks the “zoom” feature that the ROG tool has. Nonetheless the tool is useful, lines can be drawn in different colours and like the ROG tool, diagrams can be saved on the device or emailed for later analysis and commentary. The “rock book” offers a menu-driven way to record rock characteristics at various clubs, but lacks any ability to get that information off the device and share it with others in machine-readable form.

Cost is reasonable at $3.99 on Apple iTunes.

The Canadian Curling Association Mobile application

Also in November, the Canadian Curling Association began to offer its iPhone mobile application, updated on 30 November to version 1.0.1 which fixed a number of minor problems and added functionality to the “club finder” portion of the application.

The CCA application, which is free on iTunes, offers much the same content as that which appears on the main CCA website: blog content, Season of Champions event promotion (including live scores), and photo galleries and video interviews, along with integration with Facebook, Twitter, email. As such, the CCA’s Mobile application doesn’t have a lot to offer coaches but for its “club finder” feature – the application contains the address information for every curling club in the country, and with GPS location enabled on your phone you can use the Club Finder to get directions to any curling club using Google maps. The Club Finder will also be useful for parents getting to events throughout the season.

As a coach, one thing I’d like to see the CCA’s app provide is an integrated version of the Rules of Curling (both for general and competitive play), even if this required introducing a fee.

The CCA plans to offer Android and Blackberry versions of the app sometime in the future.

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