The Ateneo Blue Eagles won their first game of UAAP Season 79 last Sunday vs the UST Growling Tigers. That was the first UAAP game that coach Tab Baldwin attended as the official consultant of the Blue Eagles.
Like every basketball event for the UAAP, drums were present for both schools during the game.
But after Ateneo held off UST for its season-opening win, coach Tab expressed his displeasure on the noise level generated by the drums. He felt that drums were “unnecessary” and the created noise coming from drums was described as “farcical”.
He believed that natural noise coming from fans were a lot better than blaring drums. Moreover, he cited the difficulties between players and coaches to communicate as the source of his displeasure over the synthetic sounds.
Personally, I loved the noise level in the Big Dome. Sure, I wouldn’t hear others talk to me, but then again, I watched the game live to enjoy the action and not talk or listen to others.
Anyway, this got me thinking…what other ways could the coaches use to communicate to their players during UAAP games even with the drum lines pumping massive amounts of noise.
Here are some (crazy?) ideas.
Since the arena is too loud to hear others speak, it might be best to use other modes of communication, namely sign language.
Admittedly, learning sign language is no easy task and it might take a long time for all the players and the coaches to learn and use sign language effectively. Plus, there’s also the chance that the opposing team intercepts the relayed message because someone understands sign language on their side.
Heck, some fans might even pass the message to their favored team. Thus, an alternative technique might be to use multiple and unique hand signals privy to their team. This is similar to how baseball managers/coaches relay instructions to their players. These hand signals typically take longer to send because of the complexities and creativity involved in making different hand signals, so there’s also the problem of using it during games because it might eat up most of the time on the shot clock during a single possession.
In addition, learning sign language has practical application outside of basketball. Now, the players can use this to communicate non-verbally with the deaf and mute.
In American football, NFL teams and college teams often give the quarterback a “cheat sheet” that lists down the plays they need for that particular game. The cheat sheet is designed like a wristband or arm sleeve/band which allows the user to wear it comfortably while giving him a quick and easy access to the playbook.
Now, something like this can be used in the UAAP. Only one player will be allowed to use the “cheat sheet” which has the coach’s instructions and game plan.
The primary point guard or team captain should wear it and it will be his responsibility to check the “cheat sheet” and give the directives to his teammates. Hence, verbal communication and hand signals will be used infrequently. Additionally, a drawback of the “cheat sheet” will occur when the person wearing it has to take a seat on the bench. He should not be allowed to pass the “cheat sheet” to others.
Earpiece for PGs
Also commonplace in American football is the use of a radio receiver found in the helmet of a quarterback on offense, and a linebacker on defense. These radio receivers are connected to a headset worn by the head coach or offensive/defensive coordinators.
Therefore, the coaches are able to privately send messages to their team leaders. Well, basketball players don’t use helmets, so an exact setup won’t work here. An alternative is to use an earpiece similar to what body guards or security guards use. Another option is to use a Bluetooth headset, preferably a small size. The problem for this type of earpieces would be the random occurrences of static interference from other devices which would disrupt or negate the messages being sent.
As the coach, you wouldn’t want your PG left hanging and waiting for a message that wasn’t sent or received properly. Also, the earpieces are not designed for use in a basketball game. Thus, there would be a high probability that certain movements and hard fouls would dislodge the earpiece. Furthermore, the earpiece cannot be shared by other players. Only one player can use it for the whole game.
Very few players wear goggles that protect their eyes or improve poor eyesight. However, that figure will certainly rise if Google glasses are allowed. These type of glasses work by using Bluetooth technology and among its features are recording video plus voice and touch activation.
Google glass can help coaches send messages, instructions and plays which can be received through the LED display of the lens. Hence, players can get the coach’s commands without the need of a timeout and the noise level will be insignificant.
Usage of Google glass will be limited to one point guard or the team captain, similar to how the other added devices will be utilized. So, if he isn’t playing, the device cannot be transferred to others. On the other hand, Google glass is very expensive. The starting price is $1500 and a newer version is being made which might be sold for a cheaper price.
Similar to the earpiece, basketball moves and hard fouls would certainly dislodge the Google glass and most likely break it. There’s also the possibility of sweat interfering with the battery pack found near the frames. Nobody wants to see a player burned by malfunctioning battery.
Another way to communicate nonverbally is to learn and practice lip reading or better yet, employ a professional lip reader on the coaching staff who can train the players and coaches. Lip reading is probably harder to learn and do compared to sign language. There’s also a higher probability that misinterpreting/misunderstanding the message being sent would occur especially if players wear mouth guards or chew gum. Lip reading is also difficult when you factor in the pace and speed of the game. How can you be sure if the message is a message for the coaching staff? What if the player is mumbling to himself or talking thrash to an opponent or the players are talking to each other?
Another silent approach is to use signs or placards/posters. The coaching staff will write their instructions on something (a whiteboard, manila paper, LED screen, etc.) and flash the message to their players. Of course, this is not always beneficial because the opposing team can also see the same signs and intercept the message.
Well, a way to hide the real message is to use coded words or images. While effective at the beginning, this can become tiresome as the season progresses because the coaches need to create multiple codes so that the opposing team cannot decipher the messages. Now, a problem might arise when too many codes are being used because the variety might lead to more confusion and mixed messages. Just imagine a coach calling for a pick and roll but the PG interprets it as a low post play or isolation set. Heads will roll.
How can the coach overcome the loud noise from the drum lines without using a silent method? The help of a megaphone or portable microphone might be able to accomplish that. Using these devices would definitely assist the coach in sending his instructions to his players.
However, the other team will also hear their tactics. There’s also the chance that the players may not hear the message clearly or static interference might occur which could jumble up the message. There’s also the problem of adding more noise into a loud and crazy atmosphere already.
Moreover, people around the coach might also encounter hearing problems/loss due to their close proximity to the megaphone.
Finally, a cost-effective and most realistic solution might be to ask (or require) the bands and cheering squads to try their best to be silent during timeouts. This would ideally allow the coaches to bark out instructions more clearly to their players. I know this is very difficult to ask because fans like to cheer and encourage their teams even during breaks in the action.
I guess an alternative solution would be to ask the band of the team with the ball possession to refrain from using drums during timeouts. In this case, the bands are assisting their own schools by being quiet because the players and coaches can communicate better.
On the other hand, when the opponent has the ball possession after the timeout, your school band should make as much noise as possible so that the opposing team will be distracted and disoriented in their huddle.
So, do you guys have other ideas and suggestions? We would like to hear them. Please comment.
-Rolly Mendoza writes opinion pieces for FOX Sports related to basketball
Follow him on Twitter: @rollzter