TRAQ Series: Division I Program, Northwestern University
For this week’s TRAQ Series blog, Jeremy Tecktiel, TRAQ Project Manager, talked to a couple of members of the baseball coaching staff at Northwestern University: Associate Head Coach Josh Reynolds and Assistant Coach Dusty Napoleon. They started using TRAQ this fall and are ready to roll it out in a big way this season.
They had been eyeing TRAQ since we first released it, but had yet to pull the trigger until the end of this past summer.
“We saw that you could add HitTrax, Rapsodo, Pocket Radar, and videos. We saw how all of that worked together and that we could create a kind of plan for each guy individually. I think that was like, ‘Hey, we need to do this because it’s going to make us more efficient,’” Napoleon said. “I think the last straw was when we saw you could create assessments and store all assessment data in TRAQ.”
Before getting TRAQ, Northwestern had spent quite a bit of time attempting to get everything they needed in one place.
“For the last two or three years, we have been trying to come up with a profile sheet that we can give to guys where they can see all their numbers and have a plan in the offseason and when they go home in the summer, and we just were never able to fit everything into one sheet,” Napoleon said.
At Driveline, we can commiserate. Trying to compile a massive amount of information into one Excel sheet is a nearly impossible task, and that’s before accounting for any videos that you want to provide your athletes.
“On an individual basis, guys would come in and want to look at video and where their numbers were at in Excel, where all of that stuff was stored. But they didn’t have easy access to, on a daily basis, all of this stuff that they were looking at,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds and Napoleon anticipate that having on-demand access to all of this information will have a large impact on their players’ development going forward, but they wanted to make sure that they were 100% comfortable with the software themselves before rolling it out in full to their athletes.
“When we started this fall, we used it as a test run to make sure we got everything right. The more I’ve gotten better with TRAQ and understanding what we can do, what we can create, how I can make it more individual for each guy. Now is when I’m going to pass it on to the guys a bit more, where we are going to fully focus on [having] everything…in TRAQ,” Reynolds said. “Rapsodo is in here, videos are in here, daily plans are in here. It really kind of took a few months for me to learn the system and figure out what all it can do, because I didn’t want to send something out to the guys until I had a good handle on it and could explain it. I wanted them to be like ‘This is pretty cool!’ and really get them to focus on it every day.”
Starting to implement TRAQ can be a daunting task for even the most experienced coaches, so incrementally adding new uses is a great way to ease your way into the process of maximizing the software.
“The thing that both of us were trying to figure out first was the daily plan. Taking some of the Driveline plans that were in TRAQ already and making them our own and then putting them together for the players. That’s where we started, but now we’ve evolved a bit,” Reynolds said.
Although they spent the fall familiarizing themselves with TRAQ, that doesn’t mean they didn’t start collecting data right away.
“In the fall when we were new to it but were trying to develop our guys, we would try to log some piece of tech every day, whether it was a Blast day or Axe Bat training,” Napoleon said. “Those guys were going on TRAQ to see their peak exit velocity for a given day and it was easy for them to find. Now, they can go back to September and have all this information on the progress that they’ve made.”
On the pitching side, they did the same thing. “With the Edgertronic, I’ve added those videos to TRAQ. With Rapsodo, we’re connected there. We are starting to churn it out a little more and turn it into what it’s really built to be able to do.”
The Northwestern staff is already seeing benefits from using TRAQ in the efficiency of their programming. “For me, I used to work off Excel, ‘Here’s your weekly plan,’ I had to put that together every week,” said Reynolds. “Being able to look forward a month, month and a half in advance is so much easier for me to set up as opposed to a bunch of weekly Excel sheets.”
Coach Reynolds also said how TRAQ has helped them deal with some of the limitations of being an NCAA coach.
“With the NCAA we have mandated days off and a limited number of hours we are able to practice during certain times of the year.” If players want to work out more, they have to do so without coaches. TRAQ helps players stay on-program during their self-led workouts. “If they want to come in those days and work on [their] own, great. Make sure you do xyz so then we can stay on the same plan as opposed to them winging it,” Reynolds said.
“We are still infants in using TRAQ. There’s more that we could be doing,” Reynolds said. “We are going to be able to keep growing through TRAQ and it makes us more efficient. That’s the thing we were looking for. What can make us more efficient to where we aren’t wasting time behind a computer screen? And our guys being able to have all the information they want in front of them without us having to have ten managers trying to take notes. We are better off for this right now.”
Learn more about TRAQ here
By Jeremy Tecktiel
Photo courtesy of Northwestern Athletics