TRAQ Series: Division I Program, College of Central Florida
Jeremy Tecktiel, TRAQ Project Manager, caught up with the Assistant Coach and Pitching Coach at the College of Central Florida, Brett Merritt, to talk about how they are using TRAQ at one of the top junior college baseball programs in the country. Shortly after they spoke, Brett accepted a new position in the Red Sox organization as Pitching Coach for the Salem Red Sox.
Before implementing TRAQ, the College of Central Florida was struggling to find efficient ways to track their athletes’ progress. According to Merritt, it was “just [us coaches] by hand entering everything into a spreadsheet, which was very time-consuming.”
They used Excel sheets and Google Drive, as well as trying other methods to make their training more organized.
“We experimented with some different things…with me printing out the workouts, me texting them to players’ phones, me emailing them…I used to print out clipboards and I had them color-coded in Hybrid A, B…then moving things around on a spreadsheet and posting a calendar,” Merritt said.
None of these methods quite achieved the results they were hoping for, but that changed when they started using TRAQ.
“With TRAQ, [organizing training] is just so much easier, and our kids love [TRAQ] because they can just go on their phone and get it,” Merritt said.
Merritt came to Washington for the Driveline Coaching Certification class and seeing how we used TRAQ, it flipped a switch for him.
“I remember thinking if we could just get our hands on this software…it’s gonna just make my life so much easier in getting things organized.”
Once he started using TRAQ, he realized how much more it could do than just help him stay organized.
“I’m a big believer in speaking the language of your players, and I recognize that kids are on their phones all the time, so if I have something that they can just get on their phone and access,” Merritt said. “I feel like that’s just a better way to communicate with them.”
This is consistent with what I have heard from many coaches. Fighting phone usage with athletes is often a losing battle, so why not embrace it? Reaching athletes is at the center of what every coach does, and TRAQ is another tool that can assist coaches in that effort.
As with every other program, there are skeptics. One student, one of the better players in the program, was not a huge believer in using technology or data as a part of his training. With time, however, he started to see the benefit.
“By creating a leaderboard of the movement profile with Rapsodo, he was able to see that maybe other guys have a better movement profile on certain pitches, and that sparked questions from him like: ‘What can I do to get my changeup to move more,’ or, ‘What can I do to add more break to my breaking ball?’” Merritt said.
Giving athletes the resources to understand the data and the reasons behind certain drills is an invaluable part of TRAQ.
It isn’t just with current athletes that the College of Central Florida has seen an impact; it’s helped with recruits, too.
“We face the same challenges a lot of colleges do. We have a limited budget and it’s just about how do we allocate it, and we realize that by having those resources available, that’s been one of our best recruiters because people know when they come here they are going to have good tools to work with.”
Being able to show players exactly how they will train and improve is a plus for Merritt.
“I’ve seen a tremendous advantage for us in recruiting because I can tell our guys when they commit to us that we can work with them on creating [a] profile so that over the summer we can already implement some of our workouts with the players without them actually being on campus. I think for small schools that don’t have a big budget or can’t bring their players in early, they can use this as a tremendous teaching tool so that it’s a seamless transition once fall ball starts.”
TRAQ has become an integral part of what they do in Ocala, FL, and they are excited to continue watching it grow along with their program. Merritt even said he has talked about the program with many friends who coach different sports, including football.
“I think it is applicable to more than baseball. For me to have everything set up for the off-season to program them and check up on them has been a valuable tool.”
Learn more about TRAQ here.
Written by Jeremy Tecktiel
Photo courtesy of College of Central Florida