With the launch of year two of our Driveline Academy youth team program, I wanted to review some of the pillars of our program. In addition, we’ll note some of the improvements to the services and features that we provide to our Academy players and families.
We believe the Driveline Academy is the best place in the world for parents to send their players for long-term baseball and athletic development.
We build on the unique experience and the structure we use to train 1,000’s of College and Pro athletes to create the ideal training and competition environment for our players who have big baseball dreams.
Fun & Competition
As simple as it sounds, we do not just provide lip service to making sure that we keep baseball fun for our players.
Fun and competition are absolutely integral to everything that we do in our program. It’s the best way to help young kids love baseball is to keep and make baseball fun. Structurally, this means that we are constantly playing games and competing – not only in local tournaments and games – but on a daily basis in every single training session.
“The progress Lincoln has made in a short amount of time has been awesome. He is always looking forward to his next practice. He constantly talks about how much fun he is having. The staff and coaches are the reason for that excitement. So thanks to all involved!”
A related part of keeping baseball fun is employing coaches that can execute this kind of environment for our players. We do not yell at children. We do not lose our minds over the results of a youth baseball game. By having coaches that have high-level playing experience, trained through our stack of educational and certification products, and not having parent coaches (with one exception on our very young 8-9U team), our coaches can prioritize each and every player’s experience and development – not just the player they are biologically related to.
“Deven, I just wanted to say that this was a great practice tonight. Our experience at —— was nothing like what I saw tonight. Caymen is laughing, diving for balls, and sharing jokes with his teammates. More importantly, his coaches are having a great time with the players too. Kudos to them for putting in the time and effort to not only develop quality players but allowing themselves to build relationships with the kids. Totally pleased with the program at Driveline and I’m looking forward to the many games and practices ahead.
Player Assessment & Goals
As part of our Player Assessments we collect very simple to understand metrics on all of our players, then communicate those metrics to each player, along with a goal of where we want them to get to over time. As every player develops on their own timeline, by getting an unbiased perspective of where players are currently, we can give players individualized goals to work toward – along with clear and transparent feedback as they make progress along the way.
Player Development & Technology
We have a decade’s worth of experience training the best baseball players in the world, and we apply those same systems to our youth players. We maintain a focus on Skills That Scale, which are the core attributes that fuel a player’s transition from the small field to the big field. We help them develop the strength, agility, fitness, bat speed, exit velocity, arm health, and throwing velocity necessary to set themselves up for long-term success.
“Second, I admire what you are building with Driveline Academy — decoupling outputs (i.e. box scores) from inputs (exit velo, bat speed, etc.). I cannot think of a more valuable life lesson to instill in kids and athletes. 99% of select/travel organizations, not to mention schools, get this wrong as they are almost exclusively output focused. I have seen first-hand the value of an inputs-based development approach can deliver. It’s more fun, teaches a stronger sense of accountability (it is always within his control to swing/throw harder), and ultimately produces better results (creating a virtuous cycle).“
Player + Parent Meetings
For the 2021-2022 season we will be running a set schedule of parent and player meetings with coaches to ensure lines of communication are open. These meetings – every 6 to 8 weeks – allow us to communicate clearly with players what progress they are making and in addition to what should be developed or improved. It also allows us a personal opportunity to connect with parents and players to ensure that all parties trust they are on the same page.
Driveline High Performance & Long Term Athletic Development
Driveline Academy players go through an age-appropriate strength and athleticism assessment that mirrors what we use when working with older athletes. This allows us to understand in-depth how a player’s athletic development – along with biological development – is informed by their biological age (as opposed to calendar age), so we can make more informed individual decisions to get them the training in our dedicated 12,000 sq ft strength area.
On-Site Physical Therapy
By providing our Driveline Academy players access to our in-house Physical Therapists – at no additional cost to our families – we can identify and treat some of the common issues that naturally crop up when working with high-performing athletes, both big and small. Our Physical Therapists have experience working specifically with baseball athletes and communicate specific treatment and progressions to our coaches to get athletes right when coming back from injuries.
For the 2021-2022 season we are bringing on a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to provide nutrition guidance and support for our players (and their parents who buy the groceries). Helping educate athletes and families about good nutrition for our athletes ensures that they can pair smart food choices along with our training and development to support the whole athlete – on the training floor, the field, and the dining room table.
Appropriate Team Play
For the 2021-2022 season we are also taking more control of ensuring that we provide appropriate competition for all players. This includes both the top-of-the-food-chain kids who are ready for highly competitive play and players still in development where that same level of competitive play may not yet be appropriate. Knowing what we know about the differences between calendar and biological age, we can provide a competitive game experience for all players to maximize current term enjoyment by taking additional ownership of creating these appropriate play opportunities.
In summation, we want to support the development of our Academy athletes holistically. They need to develop as athletes toward what matters most long term, focus on the skills that fuel that mission, support services to ensure that we healthily reach those goals, along with certified, qualified, and experienced coaches that can guide them along the way.
Our care for every player in our Academy is unmatched – from the players that are our top performers to the ones who are developing on their own timeline.