Technology in sports is making an impact in so many different domains within the industry. For example, sports marketers are using social media outlets like Snapchat to interact with fans in a unique, personalized way. The emphasis on using performance analytics paved the way for a high demand of data scientists.
We had the exciting opportunity to talk with John Kelley, the CEO of CoachUp, the most affordable method of connecting with professional coaches. Here’s what he had to say about sports technology and his experience in one of the most exciting companies in sports today:
Breaking Into the Field
Kelley comes from the educational field, where he learned how to appeal to a diverse crowd, just as he does now with CoachUp. “There are certainly lots of similarities with my former company, The Princeton Review, where we had to appeal to parents and students alike,” he says. “But kids are much happier getting sports coaching help than they were about prepping for the SAT or ACT.”
He was drawn to how important coaches are in a young person’s life. “What attracted me to CoachUp was a recognition of the positive impact that coaches have on kids’ lives,” he says. “I experienced it as a runner in high school and I saw it again with my three children’s athletic careers.”
But the impact stays with athletes for longer than one game or training session. “It is about so much more than skill development,” he says. “Seeing the benefit of commitment and perseverance, dealing with setbacks, celebrating victory and bouncing back from loss, the transformative nature of teamwork. These are all life lessons you learn through sports.”
Advancements and Trends
Now, more than ever before, technology in sports is changing the dynamics of coaching. Athletes can train more efficiently while coaches are able to educate more instantly and with more precise knowledge.
As Kelley notes, the biggest advancement in sports technology is data. Performance metrics are straightforward and accurate, which is why wearables are so popular.
But Kelley sees this as just the start. “Simple apps and devices like RunKeeper and Fitbit make it easy to track what you’ve done and chart your progress,” he says, “but we’re also seeing more complex wearables like WHOOP, that go deeper to quantify workout intensity and recovery.”
Wearables continue to dominate consumer markets and are projected to reach a value of $19 billion, according to Statista. They simplify tracking exercise and provide users with important metrics about their daily amount of exercise.
So how are athletes using wearables? Athlete IQ’s Voice of the Athlete survey from February 2016 found that 77.5 percent of the 763 athletes surveyed said they use wearable technology to measure and analyze improvements, and 60.4 percent say they use it to improve performance.
The trends are heading to your pocket. “The biggest impact has come from smartphone adoption,” Kelley says. “Coaches are using CoachUp as their mobile office since most of the coaching they do happens out on the fields or in training locations outside the home.”
The convenience of mobile friendly technology in sports is evident. Kelley estimates that almost 80 percent of coach traffic on CoachUp is through their iOS and Android apps or on the mobile web. “They can do everything they need to,” he says. “Scheduling sessions, confirming payments, communicating with their clients, and so much more.”
Day to Day
Kelley’s daily workload is much like that of the athletes being trained through his company’s app. He is tasked with focusing on efficiency and optimization. “CoachUp is an early stage company, so we are a lean organization with a great deal of opportunity,” he says. “My biggest challenge is making sure that we have our limited resources focused on the right priorities.”
As a CEO, Kelley is a coach in many ways, focusing on “building and motivating a team that can develop over time and ultimately win the championship.”
Thanks to his experience with CoachUp, he’s seeing coaching in a whole new light, evolving beyond his initial impressions of the traditional high school coaching model. “I’ve been fortunate to become acquainted with coaches who do everything from coach teams full-time to those who do solely one-on-one sessions to those who run clinics, specialize in particular positions, or coach virtually. We’re constantly looking to innovate and bring new services to life that help our coaches focus more on what they do best.”
By simplifying the athlete’s experience of finding and booking coaching sessions, CoachUp is helping them focus on what’s most important — improving performance and staying healthy. This service also helps coaches dedicate more time to analyzing their clients’ performance so they can provide impactful feedback to ensure athletes make the most out of their training.
How else is technology in sports changing the industry? Share in the comments below.