Jeremy Tecktiel, TRAQ Project Manager, caught up with Denton Sagerman, Director of Baseball Operations and Pitching Development at Indiana University, to discuss how they have been able to implement TRAQ in Bloomington at one of the Big Ten’s top programs.
Like most coaches Jeremy has spoken with, before getting TRAQ the Indiana staff relied on Google Sheets and Google Forms to collect and organize their data, as well as going the old pencil and paper route in a lot of situations. They ran into issues no matter what method they used. “When you write things down, it never really gets organized or displayed the right way for you or your athletes,” Sagerman noted. “When you get mass amounts of data, it gets tough with Google Sheets with the amount of rows and columns and how you actually view that.”
Staring at a spreadsheet with hundreds of rows and columns while your eyes glaze over is a very relatable experience for coaches, but the same problem can extend to athletes. “As a coach, if you’re not confident in the way you’re viewing it, the athlete definitely isn’t going to be very confident in it either, and won’t be able to navigate that,” Sagerman said. “We just came to the conclusion that if we’re not completely sold on this or how we are seeing it or understanding it, then the athlete won’t be either, so we needed a better way. That’s when I looked up some different options and thought TRAQ might be a better way to just shorten the feedback loop with everyone.”
The shortening of the feedback loop goes hand in hand with one of the major benefits the Hoosier baseball team has seen from TRAQ: the ability to consolidate everything into one place. “I like the ability for each athlete to have a portal or a landing place that they can see and just organize their day and whatever tasks we have for them to do, and just store anything we want to share with them or they want to share with us,” Sagerman told Jeremy.
Not only does it make it easier on the athletes, but on the staff as well. “During their winter and summer break, we will have their throwing program outlined in TRAQ and it keeps our athletic trainer and our strength coach and the whole staff on the same page with what guys are doing and where they are going from there. The ability for all of our staff to be able to see different things that are happening with the team but maybe not right to their discipline is really nice. Our strength and conditioning and athletic staff has liked it, too, because they can kind of see, ‘What are the athletes doing? What’s the plan for them? What do I have to get them ready for? What’s their schedule look like?’” Having the whole staff on the same page and seeing the same information makes everything run more efficiently, and is a huge benefit of using TRAQ.
For TRAQ to be used optimally, athletes need to understand how it can benefit them. At Indiana, a lot of that starts with TRAQ providing a road map for the athletes. “Giving one platform for our athletes to go to individually to see their programming, their progression throughout has been awesome. Just being able to quantify things and see a true representation of where they are currently at from a player development standpoint.” Once the athletes really start to utilize TRAQ, they gain a much better understanding of their own development. “The athletes can correlate between when their arm readiness isn’t high and how much they slept or what their diet was. ‘I didn’t feel good that week, let me see what my throwing program was like, let me see how my plyo drills looked that week, let me see how my wellness questionnaires looked that week,’ etc. to see what went wrong. Or, when they are feeling really good, ‘What did I do that week that I need to incorporate more?’” Giving an athlete the ability to answer these questions at the tip of the fingers can really pay dividends.
That being said, athlete buy-in doesn’t happen overnight. “We knew it was really easy for our athletes—‘Just save this in your favorites and click on it and you’re there’… It’s easy for them and that’s all that really matters to us. But if they can’t view it or they can’t understand it well, then it doesn’t really help the program.”
Knowing this, Denton and the IU staff made sure to take it slowly and not overwhelm the players. “We started a little bit slower with our athletes. We just video taped their initial plyo drills coming in…and it was like, ‘TRAQ is how you go check out your videos.’ Then it progressed to, ‘Here’s how you’ll see your throwing program or your lifting program during the winter break,’ to, ‘Here’s how you fill out your daily wellness questionnaire.’ The buy-in is easy if you stay consistent with it and have a plan. They can have a true road map for their career and they can actually see what, tangibly, they are doing and what the player development program for them looks like over the next week, two weeks, month, their whole career. It’s a lot easier for athletes when they can see where they want to go.”
Denton understands that implementing TRAQ can feel intimidating and overwhelming, but he has a message for coaches. “Take the leap if you think it’ll help your program, which I definitely think it will, and then just trust that the support system around it is really good and will be able to help you do what you want to do with it. The support aspect of the software is huge. We deal with a lot of companies at the college level and you don’t get anywhere near the same support. I can call Driveline any time and be like, ‘Hey, this is my issue,’ and we will talk for an hour if we have to. I think for people who are maybe apprehensive at the beginning, you’re gonna have someone there that’ll explain how to do what you want to do.”
Learn more about TRAQ here
By Denton Sagerman and Jeremy Tecktiel
Photo courtesy of Indiana Athletics