In our first non-school-related blog in the TRAQ series, we wanted to highlight Force Baseball. Force Baseball is a training academy for youth teams located in Ohio.
They have done some awesome things with TRAQ that we have not seen from schools or many other facilities. They also had us come out to Ohio for on-site TRAQ implementation.
Jeremy Tecktiel, TRAQ Project Manager, chatted with Anthony Mendoza and Josh Bieneman about how Force Baseball has implemented TRAQ at their facility.
Before they started using TRAQ, Force Baseball built a system of workarounds that they consolidated into an app for their players.
“We built out an app and had all the players going to the Force Ohio app with their data. Inside the app we had Google spreadsheets, just tried to input all of the data with Google spreadsheets,” Bieneman said. “We had separate software that we could update and put some visuals for each player in the app. So, they would go on and click on ‘Players’, find their name and their picture and click on it and then it would show 6-7 bar graphs of what their measurements were, how it compared to other players that month in their age group, what their record was and then any type of videos would be on that page as well.”
The tool was useful for their athletes, but inputting the data wasn’t easy.
“We would spend…I think me, Josh, and our other director would be up until like three, four in the morning every day trying to update all of this stuff after training because we had 450 different pages built out for every athlete. The time it took was forever,” Mendoza said.
The main benefit that drew Force Baseball to TRAQ was its capacity to organize all of the data that goes into their app in one place.
“Being able to house everything in one area and the ability to individualize the programming was the main factor of why we wanted to get TRAQ. I also talked to other people who had it that said it ran really well,” Mendoza explained. “TRAQ gives you way more than what we originally bargained for. I wasn’t really expecting as much that you can do on there that you can and you guys are just adding so much more. The Athlete Goals feature you just added is great.”
Sensibly, they integrated TRAQ into their app for a more seamless transition for their athletes and coaches.
“We still have our app and we embedded the TRAQ website into the app,” Bieneman said. “So now they can just click on the icon in our app and it takes you straight to the TRAQ website where they can log in and check everything from there. We also have the same thing on our website, it works really well.”
The on-site implementation of TRAQ went a long way towards helping Force Baseball get rolling.
“The main thing with on-site was the confidence level we had when they left. We’re not tech guys, we are building it as we go,” Bieneman said. “We figured out Rapsodo and everything…we’ve never really had a formal course on any of it. We’ve just kinda had to figure it out and that’s obviously never fun, especially because usually when you are trying to figure it out it’s in front of 20 people who are waiting to hit.”
“The on-site was great because we actually got expertise, we had confidence, we felt like we were ready to explain it to everybody by the time they left, whereas a lot of the time we will get new tech and then there’s a two-month integration period where you don’t really want to tell anybody about it yet because you know it’s not ready for live performance,” Bieneman said. “We were a lot more confident in what we’re doing and how we’re able to explain it to coaches so we are able to get the buy-in right away,” Bieneman said.
On-site implementation is something we offer to all TRAQ facilities. We spend a couple of days with the staff, educating them on best practices and how to make the most of TRAQ.
“It was two days dedicated, almost 15 hours, where we got to ask all the questions—and we got to ask the stupid questions which are always important when you are just kinda starting to dig in,” Bieneman told me.
Force Baseball is home to over 400 athletes from 8U to 17U, and they have found different benefits of TRAQ for each age group. For younger players, they have found TRAQ to be a great tool for more transparent communication with parents. Parents can log on and see exactly what their child should do and how they are progressing—without needing to contact the coach. Relying on the athlete to bridge the communication gap between the coach and the parents can be difficult, but TRAQ eliminates the need for that.
As with older athletes, the focus has been education and trust.
“Just like anything, the athletes have to be bought in. They have to be able to understand how to use it, but, most importantly, they have to be able to understand why we are using it,” Mendoza said. “Being able to give them this and understand that we are individualizing their programming for them allows them to gain more trust in us, that everything we are doing is for the best for their career and to try to get them developed to the highest point possible.”
They have already started to see increased interest from their players.
“Once they really started to use it, they are understanding a lot more. We’ve had guys ask questions—this year a lot more than any year before—about what they need to do to get better. They’ve asked me to input different things going on into their TRAQ so they can keep it in there, kinda like a notebook so they never lose it.”
Force Baseball has implemented TRAQ on a much larger scale than most other facilities have, and it has been nice to see the creative ways they are using TRAQ to make their lives easier.
Learn more about TRAQ here
By Jeremy Tecktiel
Photo courtesy of Force Baseball