One of the primary skills of being a wrestling coach is being a juggler … as in having to juggle multiple jobs that go beyond coaching and training wrestlers. You have to be a camera operator, a statistician, a bookkeeper and more as you film footage of your wrestlers in action … while keeping score of matches with a pencil and scorebook … then trying to bring this information all together. Keeping all these balls in the air can be labor-intensive process for any wrestling program, whether it has multiple assistant coaches and managers able to participate in various aspects of the process … or if it all falls on the shoulders of one coach.
As Jeremy Hipps, one of the partner-owners of RevWrestling, parent of InterMat, described the process, “A lot of teams have a video camera to record matches, and a paper scorebook to record statistics. Then the coach has to go back through the video segments, ID each segment, then store them, then tie in the statistics recorded on paper.”
Now there’s a product that brings together stats and video in one seamless solution that incorporates the technology of a tablet that most coaches and wrestling programs already have … and it’s called MatBoss, now from InterMat. The MatBoss App for iPad integrates wrestling stats directly into the video recorded for each match, eliminating the need for traditional, labor-intensive pencil-and-paper scoring. How MatBoss came into being
John Peterson could be described as the “boss” of MatBoss. He was a wrestling coach at Elk River High School in Minnesota for 32 years … as well as a math and computer science instructor.
“I was big into using statistics for creating plans for wrestling practice,” Peterson told InterMat. “Doing things manually was time-consuming and frustrating,” citing the method of bringing together video and hand-written stats that can involve multiple steps and hours of labor.
“I had come up with some very basic programs to help me keep my sanity,” Peterson continued. “About six or seven years ago, I retired from active coaching, but was still involved in wrestling. I came up with a system I called Match Maker tournament software. About three years ago, I started offering this tournament software for sale to schools, mostly in Minnesota.”
“Two years ago, a coach at Elk River, Tyler Hemmesch, and I were talking about the hassles of dealing with match footage — having to put each match as a separate file, then give it its own file name, then store it. We thought it would be great to be able to add specific info to the video, like counting the takedowns in a match.” (You may recognize the Hemmesch name; he was a national freestyle and Greco-Roman champ, wrestled at North Dakota State, and was a four-time placer at the Minnesota high school state wrestling tournament.)
“Tyler and I have had a pretty good partnership,” Peterson added. “Fifteen or so schools adopted the system. It was good to get outside perspectives from actual users. However, we couldn’t get as much growth in sales of the product as we had hoped.”
That all started to change a year or so ago.
Jeremy Hipps picks up the story. “InterMat got involved with John Peterson’s product at the JJ Classic. (Sponsored by InterMat, the JJ Classic is an annual tournament held each fall for top high school wrestlers in the upper Midwest.) At a social event for the coaches, a couple coaches said, ‘You’ve got to take a look at this app.'”
InterMat parent RevWrestling acquired a fifty percent stake in the venture, then called Match Maker. “We created a new identity — MatBoss — rebranded it and refined the product,” said Hipps.
“We’ve been showing demos, getting high school and college coaches to commit.”
John Peterson weighs in: “It’s been a fun, great partnership. Thanks to InterMat’s expertise, we now have teams widespread throughout the United States.”
How MatBoss works
Recording in MatBossAs stated earlier, the MatBoss app allows wrestling coaches to bring together match video, scoring information and statistics, and additional notations in various forms, all with an eye toward providing enhanced instruction to wrestlers … without the time and effort of traditional methods that made separate functions of filming matches and keeping stats using paper and pencil.
MatBoss offers various options for a coach to annotate match footage with his own comments or illustrations. The coach can offer verbal instruction with a voice-over … or written commentary, with words that appear right on the screen … or with illustrations, using a newly added “telestrator” feature that allows the coach to make markings, directional arrows or other drawings on the screen — just like sports commentators on football telecasts, or your local TV weather forecaster — as an instructional tool for wrestlers.
Incorporating the additional features on top of the match video — the scoring, written comments, audio comments, or on-screen drawings — can be done one of two ways. It can be done while the match is being filmed … or added in later, as the coach reviews the footage.
Uploading video is easy on MatBossIn addition, the MatBoss app makes it easy to archive (save, store and file) wrestler footage. “We use Amazon Cloud,” said Peterson. “It’s very easy for a coach to upload match video. The typical speed for an at-home online connection is about 2-3 minutes per match. It’s all automatic; the coach simply hits the ‘start’ button, then can walk away. As one coach told me, ‘All I care is that it just plain works.'”
“It eliminates the need to make DVDs for each wrestler,” said Peterson. “A wrestler or his friends or family can call up their matches on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and watch anywhere, at any time.”
The MatBoss app may be used for any wrestling program at any level — youth, high school, college, club, according to Jeremy Hipps. As for cost … MatBoss users pay one price for a one-year subscription which allows a school to install the app on as many devices as necessary, with an unlimited number of accounts for as many coaches and wrestlers as a program has. There are no pay-per-view or pay-per-event fees, making it easy for a wrestling program to budget.
Benefits of MatBoss
“MatBoss can be used as a teaching tool for personalized, individualized instruction,” said John Peterson. “It’s more than just watching video. A coach can type in comments over the film, or use the ‘telestrator’ feature to point out mistakes and offer guidance and instruction to each wrestler.”
In describing MatBoss’ “telestrator” and how it can benefit both the coach and his wrestlers, Peterson said, “The coach can draw where a wrestler’s feet should be, or trace a particular movement, that he can use to help an individual wrestler work on positioning or how he does takedowns or whatever … The markings aren’t necessarily a permanent feature of the video; they can be easily removed.”
Because all video and annotations are stored in the Cloud, that offers additional benefits to wrestling programs. “Teams can easily organize their own library of match footage, without much effort, and have easy access to it,” according to Peterson. He described how his high school made the most of this library as a training tool. “Once a week, Elk River would spend part of its wrestling practice in the computer lab. Each wrestler would call up video of his own matches, with the coach’s voice or typed-in comments or on-screen illustrations. Wrestlers could also use it as a scouting tool to see upcoming opponents in action.”
“Coaches can also start filming practice, and provide analysis, just like they can with actual matches.”
MatBoss offers a suite of features which allow users to pick and choose which aspects they want to use. “Coaches really like that the system tracks career wins and other stats,” said Peterson. “Coaches have the option to enter older stats. Then MatBoss automatically provides alerts when a wrestler breaks a record, or achieves a specific milestone, such as number of wins, or number of falls. This makes it easier to acknowledge these accomplishments as they occur, and/or at an end-of-season awards banquet, for instance.”
It’s not just the coach and his wrestlers that can benefit from the fact that footage is now archived in the Cloud. “Now college coaches can get easy access to a wrestler’s matches for recruitment purposes,” according to Peterson. “A high school coach can put together a virtual ‘highlight reel’ for a particular wrestler, and email that file to the recruiting coach, without having to go to the time, trouble and expense of putting together an actual tape or DVD and then mailing it to multiple college coaches.”
This stored-in-the-Cloud capability also makes it possible for just about anyone to view video captured by MatBoss, including other wrestlers and coaches, as well as prospective college coaches, via InterMat. “A library of videos recorded by MatBoss users is available at InterMat for free,” said Jeremy Hipps. “It’s an automated, integrated solution. No extra work for coaches. However, a coach can easily decide to opt out and not to make their videos available in the InterMat library.”
What’s more, the Cloud capability is a plus for those outside wrestling as well. “Now, if a wrestler’s grandma and grandpa or girlfriend can’t get to a match, they can watch it easily from just about any device,” said Peterson.
“Once coaches see it, the reaction is incredible,” said Peterson. “To our knowledge, there’s nothing else like it.”
To that end, some coaches who use MatBoss weighed in with their opinions.
“This is our first year of using MatBoss stats and video program,” said coach Mike Montgomery of Sparta High School in Wisconsin. “It provided an excellent platform for videotaping matches, collecting stats, and offering a coaching and teaching tool for individual improvement. The technical support and assistance is what I was most impressed with. Any questions or issues were dealt with immediately and always with a follow-up to make sure everything was OK.”
Dan Lefebvre, coach at Minnesota’s St. Michael-Abertville High, said, “MatBoss has provided an easy method for us to videotape our wrestlers’ matches and an efficient way for them to access and view their matches online. In addition, the stats program is user friendly and provides us with all the reports we need.”
“MatBoss is the complete package,” said coach Joey Casterline of Glasgow High School in Montana. “The ability to video and record on the same device is invaluable. This is hands-down the best program on the market and the only one that I will use.”