For the very first time in South Africa, amateurs and young athletes have the opportunity to make use of iTrainer, an online video analysis tool which has been in the past limited to professionals.
This provides future sports stars the chance to not merely get closer to their heroes, but to in fact be trained by them as well.
The iTrainer is run by PowerChalk, a web-based sports motion telestrator – a system that enables the user to draw a sketch over a video image.
Individuals can upload videos of their sports moves using their desktop or laptop computer or mobile phone, after which you can obtain feedback, that comes with voice-over and mark-up, from world-class athletes online.
Amongst the 34 South African sportsmen and women who have decided to offer their time, knowledge and expertise are Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Roland Schoeman, golf stalwart Dale Hayes, Proteas cricketers Albie and Morne Morkel and Springbok rugby players Victor Matfield and Morné Steyn.
Speaking at the release of iTrainer in June, Schoeman stated the technology makes it possible for young athletes to analyse their range of motion frame-by-frame, as a result furnishing them with beneficial insight into their technique.
Schoeman added that he felt confident that he would likely have realized success years earlier, had he been exposed to the technology earlier.
Thus far, the initiative continues to be appreciated amongst the local sports fraternity, with the iTrainer website logging in excess of 1 000 hits in its first two days.
Assisting young athletes to improve their game
Veteran South African golfer Nico Van Rensburg was first encouraged to get involved with iTrainer mainly because it was an opportunity to give back to South Africa’s schoolchildren who would like to boost their game.
He explained that the iTrainer will also help young athletes avoid travelling and coaching costs. “Coming from a small town, my mom and dad were forced to travel long distances in order to take me to my lessons. It cost a lot,” he said.
Van Rensburg, a 1999 Volvo Masters champion and winner of nine international tournaments, has helped bring on board 18 other champion golfers, who are going to be on hand to assist golfers make improvements to fundamental techniques such as grip, stance, posture and swing.
Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn mentioned that he, like many professional rugby players, trains for approximately five hours and afterwards doesn’t have much to do – now he is able to basically turn on his laptop and provide 20 to 30 lessons a day.
Making sports coaching accessible
Van Rensburg pointed out that there are programs to broaden the iTrainer initiative later this year.
At the moment the iTrainer caters for athletes involved in cricket, rugby, swimming, hockey, golf, netball and tennis.
Having said that, Van Rensburg pointed out that football will in the near future be on that list, as iTrainer is on the brink of adding top Bafana Bafana stars to their undoubtedly extraordinary line-up of coaches. General wellness assistance is at the same time on the cards.
In order to spread the word, coaches and facilitators intend to travel to a wide variety of schools following the mid-year holidays to provide one-on-one lessons to interested pupils. They will in addition offer incentives for individuals who subscribe.
Something for everyone
The program is sold in two bundles. The first is Powerchalk Plus which costs $49 (R338) per year. This makes it possible for the user to upload and store up to 100 videos, watch and record five minutes of video analysis, and participate in audio conferencing.
The Powerchalk Pro package offers the same services as the Plus but also permits the user to store up to 500 videos, watch and record 10 minutes of video analysis, provide dual view and split screen options, and create groups. This latter package is sold for $99 (R667) a year.