Steve Kerr, trainer for the Golden State Warriors, is one of 40 trainers in the NBA who offer virtual coaching services.
With sports of all skill levels disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a growing demand from athletes around the world looking for training resources to help improve their skills.
On Thursday, the virtual coaching platform eCoach announced the launch of training videos for more than 40 of the NBA's most elite head coaches and assistant coaches. Coaches like Steve Kerr of Golden State Warriors, Nick Nurse of Toronto Raptors and Doc Rivers of Philadelphia 76ers provide shooting tips and coaching skills for players of all levels.
Kerr, who made history with the Chicago Bulls in the 90s with his sharp shooting, joined the eCoach platform three years ago. With the pandemic threatening athletes' ability to exercise together, online coaching has proven much more important.
"We're just really looking for ways to give coaching and instruction to people who otherwise wouldn't get it, especially from NBA coaches," Kerr said in an interview with CNBC this week.
The website and app provide access to a coaching database for $ 9.99 per month. Membership includes unlimited access to exercises, workouts, games and tips. For example, Kerr teaches a "touch shooting" class to help basketball players measure distance. Washington Wizards assistant coach and statistician Dean Oliver offers a session where you can use analytics to improve your basketball team and Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens teaches team defensive principles.
ECoach's partnership with the National Basketball Coaches Association gives not only access to top coaches, but also access to NBA game material to analyze key points and show their teachings in action.
"We believe this is a perfect way for coaches to communicate the game at this unusual time," said Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks head coach and president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, told CNBC.
Rich Hempel, who started eCoach seven years ago, said the pandemic has seen strong interest and adoption of this type of technology and content.
"What we have seen from the pandemic is that this term of online sports coaching is transitioning from a good idea back then to an idea that is suddenly business critical," he said.
With the globalization of basketball, Hempel said that is where most of the eCoach content resides, but the company also offers instructional videos on soccer, baseball and golf for all levels of play.
For 19-year-old basketball player Danielle Matthews, virtual coaching was her lifeline as an athlete who grew up in India, and she said it continued to be an integral part of her training.
"Distance training is why I am an athlete today," she said. Matthews said when she was in India she watched people from her village get drafted into the NBA's G League and receive college scholarships for being trained by virtual coaching apps.
Matthews now lives in Ohio and is recovering from an ACL injury she sustained in her senior year. She said she was using eCoach to exercise while waiting to get back on the court.
“I use it to help my basketball IQ and I use it to help my shooting form. There's a Steve Kerr video that says, 'Beat the Pro', and it is just you, the ball in the hoop, and there's an intensity you feel when you're playing, it's not just an exercise, "said Matthews.
Hempel said the growth and strong interest they have received from the eCoach pandemic positions to raise Series A funding in early to mid-2021. ECoach has previously been funded by private investors, including a mix of professional athletes and coaches in the NBA, MLB and NFL, along with angel investors with experience in youth sports and online learning.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is only part of what children in our society are experiencing in the current conditions of unrest," said Mike Blackburn, executive director of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
Blackburn said he has seen a sharp increase in virtual communication efforts among interscholastic sports administrators through zoom, podcasts, video messaging and online messaging platforms. This has helped alleviate students' fear of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
The virtual coaching field has grown rapidly in recent years, and the pandemic is likely to further accelerate this trend as people spend more time at home than ever before.
Companies like MasterClass benefit from this. The company told CNBC that after the pandemic outbreak in 2019, subscriptions increased ten-fold from the average and that engagement in total minutes per month was nearly double. In May, MasterClass raised an additional $ 100 million.
Other companies want to benefit from the trend.
In September, NBC Sports' Sports Engine, with 16 million users, teamed up with the leading virtual coaching platform MaxOne to improve its offering.
In August, Nike announced they were partnering with the NFL and top players like Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham to provide training tips on their platform during the pandemic.
"I think what makes eCoach so unique is that you get all of these different ways of looking at the game from different coaches, so there really is a comprehensive view of the game," said Kerr.
Disclosure: NBC Sports is part of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.