NFCA19 is in the books! The much anticipated fastpitch softball coaches convention did not disappoint. More than 20 hours of educational presentations and countless conversations were jammed into the four day event in Atlantic City, NJ.
Rapsodo had a prominent presence at the event with a 20 by 60 foot booth which included a full size batting cage. The cage featured educational presentations and demonstrations from Josh Johnson, Assistant Coach, Mississippi State; Mike Bosch, Assistant Coach, Florida; Diane Miller, Assistant Coach, Nebraska; baseball/softball science pioneer Perry Husband; Paige Parker, Assistant Coach, Oklahoma; professional athlete, Jessie Scroggins; and professional athlete, Keilani Ricketts.
Throughout the many conversations had at the booth, there was a very prevalent theme – DATA. Here are the top 3 takeaways from those conversations:
#1. Coaches recognize data is important for player development
Most softball coaches, regardless of level, are beginning to understand the critical role data plays in player development. Being able to have data to validate what their eyes (and ears) tell them – or in some cases don’t tell them – gives both coaches and players a boost of confidence. With data, players are more bought in to the development program and coaches can easily see if their development program is having a positive impact on player performance.
Although many coaches understand the importance of data, one continual roadblock that comes up is budget. To help those programs with small budgets we recently began offering financing options and later in 2020 we will be launching fundraising as a way to pay for Rapsodo products.
#2. Coaches need help understanding what the data means and how to use it to develop players
The crowds that gathered around the Rapsodo cage were a good indication that coaches are interested in learning how others are using data in their programs. Additionally, there were a number of coaches that stopped by and said they recently bought a Rapsodo unit but needed help understanding the data.
One coach in particular commented on how she purchased because “she knew many of the most successful programs use it and she didn’t really know how to use it but didn’t want to fall behind.”
We understand that data is only helpful if you know how to implement it to improve player performance. To help address the data challenge, we will soon be launching our Rapsodo Certified Program. The Certified Program will be an online course that will cover not only what the Rapsodo data points are, but also how to implement the data to develop players. Look for the Certified Program later in 2020.
#3. We, as a softball community need to continue to drive the data conversations and educate coaches, players, and fans
Every year at the NFCA Convention we host a Rapsodo Advisory Panel dinner. It’s an opportunity for us to not only thank our advisory panel members, but to also have candid conversations about everything softball. At this year’s dinner there was a lot of discussion around how much data is too much. Not only how much data is too much for coaches and players to comprehend, but how much data is too much data to share during broadcasts.
The overwhelming response from our advisory members was that we need to share data. Data is factual information and we should be using that information to educate the softball community. If youth players and their coaches can understand the data and utilize it to improve player performance, the stronger the sport of softball will be.
The launch of our blog is our first step in beginning to educate the softball community on the use of data and analytics. We have also created data guides for both pitching and hitting. These data guides provide information on each of the data points included in the HITTING 2.0 and PITCHING 2.0 apps and also show player averages for different age groups. You can download the data guides on our website.
The 2019 NFCA Convention has come and gone, but we must continue the conversations. The more we can educate the softball community the better the game will be.
Data is revolutionizing how players learn, how coaches develop, and how teams compete. If that doesn’t excite you, then it’s time you #GetOnBoard.