iPods for Playbooks?

Miami, 09/30 – HEAT Head Coach Erik Spoelstra is an old school coach with a new school approach.

Yes, he still has the same defense-first philosophy as his predecessor, HEAT President Pat Riley. And, yes, he still uses a similar playbook that resembles more of a phonebook.

However, Spoelstra is a little more technologically savvy than his Hall of Fame mentor. He also found out that one of the best ways to communicate with his players is through technology they already use.

In addition to handing out the traditional paper-bound playbook, the first-year head coach issued every HEAT player an Apple iPod touch. On the iPod, players can find a condensed version of the HEAT playbook, game clips, NBA and team rules, quotes, and even newspaper articles.

Spoelstra said that putting this critical information on the iPod helps engage the players – especially the younger ones – and bridges the generation gap, resulting in better, more effective communication. They also don’t get overwhelmed by the size of the playbook and the amount of information received.

“The playbook is 300-plus pages – it’s a little intimidating for anybody,” he said. “They all have gadgets; they all have iPods. They seem to be on those things all the time, so this is just another way to connect with them.”

HEAT forward Udonis Haslem loves the idea of using an iPod as a playbook. The only drawback? Finding enough room to store his music.

“We can put music up there, we just can’t erase the playbook,” he playfully said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. With how technology is today, everyone has one of those. So for us to have our playbook up there, it helps us out a lot.”

Unfortunately for the HEAT players, the iPods aren’t for them to keep. They are team property and have to be replaced if they’re lost. And anyone who has purchased an iPod touch knows that they aren’t cheap, either. Haslem said he’s going to take good care of his.

“I thought we got to keep them, but we have to give them back,” said Haslem. “I thought (when we first got them), ‘Gifts already?’

“I don’t think I’m losing mine.”