2018’s Leaders in Innovation
Coach & Athletic Director breaks down its picks for the year’s top products helping sports programs
The abundance of innovations in team sports has changed the way games are played and managed. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.For Coach & Athletic Director’s fourth annual innovations issue, we took a close look at more than 100 new and improved products. In the end, we settled on 10 that addressed specific needs or took a unique approach to solving common problems in athletic programs. This year’s class of innovative products is led by software and digital systems designed to help coaches and athletic administrators analyze athletic performance.
Here are our picks for the year’s top innovations.
Players who are able to react before everyone else are said to have good instincts. Nobody is born with these types of instincts. They must be learned through countless hours of practice and play.
GameSense Sports created an app that trains the instincts that turn good players into great players by using “video occlusion.” It forces players to focus on the beginning of plays or events within a game, challenging them to accurately predict the outcome with limited information. GameSense Sports currently trains baseball, softball and football players, with more sports to come.
GameSense Sports is described as “Twitter simple.” It doesn’t require virtual reality gear, sensors or a lot of money. Players can use the app on a laptop, tablet or phone. GameSense Sports provides a scientifically sound, effective and efficient way for training the quick decisions athletes must make. Coaches, athletic directors and athletic trainers can give their athletes a faster way to become elite players through brain training. It gives players that extra edge, something to do when the weather is poor, or when they are injured.
Learn more by visiting www.gamesensesports.com.
Coaches can’t be everywhere, especially during the offseason. But Aaptiv can help athletes stay in shape without constant oversight.
Aaptiv is an on-demand audio fitness product. It helps remove barriers that athletes often face when they want to workout by making it convenient and affordable. For $99 a year, members have unlimited, on-demand access to more than 2,500 audio-guided workouts and structured programs across every type of exercise and a wide variety of activities, including running, strength training, yoga, indoor cycling and meditation.
Each workout is created by one of Aaptiv’s 20 certified trainers who focus on goal attainment, encouragement and positive reinforcement — emphasizing the strength of both mind and body. Aaptiv focuses exclusively on audio classes because it doesn’t make sense to stare at a phone while working out. It combines the guiding voice of an expert trainer with motivating music by top artists in every genre. The audio-based format eliminates distractions, allowing members to focus on their fitness goals.
Aaptiv also is a great option for those training for a race, whether a 5k, half marathon or full marathon. The programs walk athletes through the whole process, building both stamina and strength. They can stay in shape during the offseason or make exercise a year-round pursuit.
Visit www.aaptiv.com for more information.
Sports Solutions LLC created SaaS-based AthleticSOS to give every high school student-athlete’s family a technical tool to research college opportunities based on academic, athletic, financial and campus fit.
Traditional recruiting software programs place student-athlete profiles in giant searchable databases and invite college coaches to search based on need. This is great for software owners, somewhat advantageous for college coaches, but it’s terrible for the student-athlete. College coaches are overwhelmed, profiles get overlooked, and that creates a broken system.
The desire to gain exposure to college coaches drives and dominates high school sports. Instead of enjoying the high school athletic experience, student-athletes jump from school-to-school and club-to-club, and high school and club coaches are under tremendous pressure to give student-athletes the best possible chance of receiving an athletic scholarship.
AthleticSOS allows families to discover and save college matches, and school staff can help them move forward on those choices. Athletic directors, coaches and student counselors use their “coaches portal” to review the families’ selections and can then reach out to the college coaches and provide credibility and initial outreach.
Learn more at www.athleticsos.com.
SwimEx plunge pools
More college and high school programs and turning to hydrotherapy to help athletes recover, and SwimEx is at the forefront.
SwimEx fiberglass hot and cold plunge pools come with bottom drains, are easy to maintain, insulated for superior temperature retention, can be delivered in sections for tight access, and installed above or below ground. The durable fiberglass construction has a solid wood core for superior insulation and temperature retention. The interior walls have a Gelcoat finish for easy cleaning.
SwimEx helps schools save money and time with less maintenance and faster recovery to get players back into competition. The plunge pools are ideal for specific treatment protocols, and SwimEx engineers work directly with schools — from conception through completion — to give them exactly what they need. Plunge pools are built to last and extremely functional, helping teams successfully achieve their rehabilitation goals.
Visit www.swimex.com/plunge-pools to learn more.
PlaySight connects the next generation of athletes on its “Smart” sports platform. Each SmartCourt, SmartGym, SmartField and SmartRink is connected to PlaySight’s cloud platform and the internet. Permanently installed high-performance cameras record, stream, track and analyze all practices and games. Athletes can review video, create their own highlight packages and track their progress over time. Coaches can break down film and connect directly to their players.
PlaySight’s Smart platform is affordable for youth, high school and collegiate programs. It’s flexible across all sports, including basketball, lacrosse, volleyball and soccer. New software updates are released every few months, improving the video, analytics, and overall athlete and coach experience.
PlaySight can help athletes improve faster and win more. The entire video recording process is streamlined for coaches, meaning no more setting up cameras, tablets and phones. Streaming and recording from multiple angles can be managed in seconds, and video is uploaded automatically. College athletic directors are using PlaySight to recruit the best athletes and coaches, and to give their teams the best chance to win and perform at the highest level.
Visit www.playsight.com for more information.
Gryppers specializes in high-quality protective compression wear and advanced technologies for a variety of sports. The company was founded by former North Carolina State football players DaJuan Morgan and Jamelle Eugene.
Among its products are the Vyse Gryppers, a protective sleeve for the fingers that stabilizes joints and ligaments while improving grip strength and reducing injury on impact. Vyse Gryppers is a hybrid of gloves and tape, a functional asset for any athlete who plays a sport where the hands are critical to success.
The sleeves are made from thermal-reactive yarns that contain infrared technology. This helps stabilize the ligaments, emit energy back to the cells, increase blood flow, speed recovery and increase grip strength. A lack of grip strength can lead to a variety of strains, sprains and fractures.
Vyse Gryppers retail for $53.99, and programs can order in bulk. To learn more, visit www.gryppers.myshopify.com.
Coaches are constantly on the lookout for more information on the athletes joining their programs, and Avrij Analytics aims to provide them with everything they need.
Avrij Analytics was founded by a group of data scientists and sports management professionals who were determined to identify a reliable way for scouts to use math to evaluate athletes. Launched in 2016, the platform can track, monitor and predict an athlete’s off-the-field behavior and create reports for coaches or other team managers. It provides coaches with an idea on what players could potentially cause problems for the program.
In an era when social media can have such a dramatic impact on a program’s brand and image, Avrij Analytics assists coaching staffs by managing the bulk of the online oversight. Earlier this year, the company raised $1.2 million to continue developing its product. It hopes to use the funding to integrate video and photo analysis capabilities.
To learn more, visit www.avrij.com.
Wearable devices continue to evolve, and Catapult Sports is among the industry leaders in providing this technology for athletes and coaches.
The Australia-based Catapult Sports focuses on providing detailed analytics for elite athletes, helping to reduce injury and improve performance. It does this with its athlete-tracking technology, delivering data to its cloud-based OpenField platform. The sensors, equipped with GPS, can measure volume, injury risk, intensity, explosiveness and other sport-specific metrics to help coaches learn more about their players.
Catapult Sports’ technologies are validated by independent scientific research institutes and used by organizations at the highest levels, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. It’s used by more than 1,500 teams across 35 sports.
Last spring, the company announced it raised more than $19 million to continue its growth. Catapult Sports expects to not only grow its influence in the elite market but also with amateur and semi-pro teams. The funding also will drive the development of its technology.
To learn more, visit www.catapultsports.com.
The search for a safer football helmet continues, and Impressio is among the latest to accept the challenge.
Impressio was among three technology startups to earn a $121,000 grant through the NFL to continue developing its product. Unlike most others trying to address concussions in football, Impressio isn’t trying to redesign helmets — it’s reimagining the materials that go inside of them.
Impressio is focused on developing ultra-dissipative materials for helmet liners and padding. It uses liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) that can mimic biological tissues, such as shock absorbing cartilage and actuating muscles. Researchers have examined the material since the 1970s, the company says, but it wasn’t until recently that it could be manufactured on a large scale. And Impressio has the only fully issued patent on LCE synthesis for bulk production.
Last spring, the company won a second $165,000 grant through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The funding is being used to continue developing its patented material to build a safer football helmet.
To learn more, visit www.impressio.tech.
Coaches in endurance sports, and those overseeing training programs, will have a much easier time with TrainingPeaks.
TrainingPeaks monitors fitness, form and fatigue over time with its performance management chart, allowing athletes to track their progress and reach their goals. Coaches can see all of their athletes’ data in one platform, making it simple to follow their development and communicate with them about their goals. Coaches can even build structured workouts that are synced to an athlete’s calendar, giving coaches the ability to monitor their training programs without constant, in-person oversight. Coaches can access those individual workouts and examine power, heart rate and other data to help them make decisions about the next step in the training program.
TrainingPeaks is used by Olympians and Tour de France teams, but it’s priced for use by high school coaches and athletes.
To learn more, visit www.trainingpeaks.com.