WE LIVE IN a world where social media is omnipresent, while sport continues to capture the imagination of the masses.

Conor Duff is hopeful that his new product, Tactic, is the perfect meeting point between the two elements.

Tactic is a free web app that allows kids and teenagers to analyse games and training, converse with each other about their chosen sports and learn from their coaches.

Source: TacticTalks/YouTube

Louth man Duff, who has a background in product design and the automotive industry, launched Tactic in 2015 and it went live in October of last year. It already has 400 users, but Duff and his team have plans to hit the 10,000 mark by early 2018.

Duff played rugby for 23 years and now coaches his 12-year-old son, meaning he has had regular insight into how youngsters engage with sport.

“Listening to the guys, they talk about sport in a different way than adults would. They don’t talk about data and percentages, they talk about how Messi flicks the ball or how Zebo passes. It’s really interesting how visual they are.

“There hasn’t really been a way for them to talk about sports visually. My son could come home from school and sit for two hours looking at YouTube, browsing videos of rugby, Gaelic and soccer.”

Tactic aims to give young players at grassroots levels a natural home for analysing and discussing their sporting interests, while it also serves as an extremely useful tool for the coaches of their teams.

How does Tactic work? Users first create a profile as they would on Facebook, adding their name, team, photo, and background image.

“Child protection is huge,” points out Duff. “Within Tactic, when a minor – an U14 – signs up, they have to provide a guardian email address and that means that when a coach follows a minor, an email is sent to the guardian just to inform them of it.

“There are a couple of structures there to keep it child-friendly.”

Tactic went live last year.

Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Once their profile is confirmed, the users can get stuck into analysing and reviewing footage of games. They can follow other users and channels, and get various notifications when new items of interest come online.

‘TeamTalks’ are a big part of Tactic, whereby users to create close groups with their real-life team-mates and coaches, allowing them to review footage of their own games and training sessions or learn from footage of professional teams in action.

The footage in Tactic comes from YouTube – simply by copying and pasting the URL of the relevant video – but there are plans for Tactic to host video itself in the future.

“Using YouTube means you can get lots of video of everything, but also the videos have already been screened, so there are restrictions there that are child-friendly,” explains Duff.

“A coach can upload their match or training session to YouTube, keep the video unlisted so it can’t be found, then bring it into Tactic and share it with their team.”

Coaches and players then use Tactic’s editing suite to analyse the footage, with a range simple tools such as lines, arrows, circles, text. Users can also add audio commentary over the footage.

One particularly interesting function is the ability to ask questions of other users in your TeamTalk.

“That’s a unique part of Tactic,” says Duff. “The clip pauses and the question pops up, ‘Where should he pass?’ for example, or, ‘Does he score?’

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Source: Tactic

“That makes it fun for players because they’re engaging, but it’s also really educational because when you ask questions you’re trying to elicit information rather than telling them the answer, as any coach knows.

“When they do respond in the correct way, that’s a real plus for the player. They’re answering the questions, feeling good about it and also learning about the game.”

All comments from users in the TeamTalks are time-stamped to the relevant section of the video, meaning a cleaner experience.

“Whereas on YouTube, it’s just a spiel of comments, on Tactic it’s directed at a specific moment,” says Duff. “Everyone knows what everyone else is talking about.”

The target market for Tactic is 12 to 18-year-olds and they have rallied plenty of interest, with users in Ireland, the US and the UAE already signed up.

The GAA has shown a keen interest from the conception of Tactic up to the present day and Duff is hopeful that his product will be part of the Cúl Camps next summer. Duff demonstrated Tactic at the GAA’s Youth Forum last year, while he also showcased the product at the recent Coaches Forum, with many new users signing up that day.

The web app is free and will continue to be so.

“Kids don’t buy anything now, so it has to be free!” says Duff. “Not just the child, but the parent. If my 12-year-old asked me could he pay €2 a month to sign up, I’d probably say no. That’s a barrier now for any product. The same for coaches really.”

There are, however, plans for in-app purchases down the line, providing users with more advanced analysis tools specifically related their their chosen sport.

Tactic has users outside Ireland already.

Source: Gerry McManus/INPHO

Tactic are also keen to link with sporting bodies and media organisations to provide users with the chance to subscribe to channels that allow them to view up-to-date footage.

“The idea would be that, say, RTÉ Sport, eir or TG4 would have a channel and users could subscribe,” says Duff.

“Lots of 12-year-olds miss the Sunday Game or Match of the Day, but if the footage was also on Tactic, kids could reuse and recycle that footage to learn about the game and enjoy it.”

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As he and his team launch the next phase of their plans, Duff believes that Tactic can ensure players learn and love their sport even more, while he hopes that it will help keep more sportspeople in the game for longer.

“Off the field, there hasn’t been a place like this where you can talk to your team-mates about the game and share videos of your sport. I’d love if those 12 to 16-year-olds used it to share and interact, building that team ethic.

“Some of the kids who aren’t brilliant at playing the sport may be excellent at reading the game. That person could be known as the analyst within the team, lead those TeamTalks and share it with their team-mates.

“Hopefully, it will keep players more involved and engaged with the sport at times when they might be thinking of dropping out. Sport isn’t always about the playing out on the pitch. For kids, it’s more about that social aspect and having craic with your friends talking about the sport.

“There’s much more to sport than the 80 minutes on the pitch.”

This article was updated at 20.38 to correct ‘illicit’ to ‘elicit’ in the 20th paragraph, 

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