Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their game. GoSports Technology does just that. It offers athletes a useful combination of strength and conditioning programs, along with sports measuring tools. The Company features two separate divisions in its portfolio—GoSportsTraining and GoSportsCombines.
In 2008, GoSportsTraining was founded by Shelly Francis. The mission of this company is to offer customized strength and conditioning training programs for teams and athletes at all levels of competition. GoSports Training empowers coaches with easy-to-implement training programs that are customizable and use the latest technology in order to assist their athletes in reaching their full athletic potential.
A year later, GoSportsCombines was launched by Francis, building on her early successes with her training company. Alongside some of leaders in the sports measuring industry, her new company set out to develop comprehensive athletic testing for baseball and softball players. They accomplish this by using the latest technology to gather unbiased and reliable data to provide athletes with the feedback to improve their performances.
The two businesses under the GoSports umbrella combine a package for athletes that will aid in their athletic development.
Francis provided Access Athletes a detailed look into how GoSports serves athletes.
AA: Tell us about yourself and how you got the idea to start the GoSports Company?
SF: Well, I was a four year starter at the Division I level for the Arkansas State University Volleyball team. While at ASU, the team was the American South Conference Champions in 1988, 1989, and 1990, and had the nation’s longest winning streak for Division I volleyball in 1988. I received the Terry Gwin Award for the top senior student-athlete. I was on the athletic director’s honor roll and the conference commissioner’s list, in addition to being the conference medallion recipient.
I have also coached at the high school level at the Sumter Academy School system and have obtained experience coaching at the Division II level as an assistant coach for the University of West Alabama and then as a coach for the University of Central Arkansas. I wanted a change of careers, but didn’t want to leave sports. It was while working with Velocity Sports Performance that I learned about the proper methods of strengthening and conditioning. I have also worked with some of the leaders in the technology area of the sports measuring industry, such as Dartfish, which is a video measuring service. I have had experience as an employee at Fusion Sport, which is a laser timing system.
I have 10 years of experience in the strength and conditioning world. Thanks to my previous experience as a coach and athlete, I wanted to give other coaches, parents, and athletes a resource that they can use on their own to improve as an athlete. Along the way, through attending various workshops and combines, I found out about the power of normative data numbers and how they affect athletes trying to be recruited, and wanted to go beyond those numbers and open up a combine that will help a player overall in their athletic development.
AA: Tell us more about the two companies the make up the GoSportsCompany: GoSportsCombine and GoSportsTraining?
SF: The GoSportsTraining Company is set up to build customized strength and conditioning programs for athletes. We can build a program for any sport, and for any skill set through an online survey that is filled [out]. We match what the athlete has in terms of how many days they can lift, what resources that they have, and the experience level that they have with working out. We also provide online videos on how to do the exercises properly.
We offer the latest in sports-measuring technology, so that if coaches and athletes wish to have an affordable/simple way to train their athletes, they can. The technology can also be accessed by individual athletes who may wish to work out on their own.
I then founded GoSportsCombine in 2009, as what I hope will be the premier sports measuring company for baseball and softball teams. The company started in November, 2009 and we had our first combine with Valdosta State University. We are currently using a bunch of different social networking sites to build different partnerships to run baseball and softball based combines. Thanks to social networking, we have been able to form a partnership with CHAMPS, which is one of the premier recruiting services based in Atlanta, Georgia.
We are also in the works to help various Major League Baseball teams, as a small piece of the puzzle in the minor league player development aspect of the sport. Ultimately, the data we give them will help them fix a player’s swing, help with a player’s lateral movement, and help them decide how and when a player can move up through the different minor league affiliations.
Even though our main focus is on baseball and softball, we do hope to expand, and can offer our services to most sports. If a college volleyball coach called me up and said, ‘hey, I can get you 200-300 athletes, can you please come down to test them?’, I would be more than willing to help them out.
AA: How does the GoSportsCombine Company compare to other combines?
SF: A regular combine that most people may have heard of is an athletic testing and measurement event. What normally happens is that the athletes would go to the combines just to get tested. After the test, the reporters would put the raw data in a database, and hopefully, a college coach would see the results. Or the athletes could give it to a recruiting service and that service can try to promote the athlete. Many of these combines are for athletes who are interested in developing in the sport of football.
How the GoSportsCombine is different is that it is the only company concentrating on the sports of baseball and softball. We also give athletes a chance to see what the numbers mean and reach their potential as an athlete through our customized strength and conditioning and nutrition programs. Everything you see is all a part of our Absolute Athlete TM (A2) program, and is what makes the GoSportsCombine unique.
AA: How are the GoSports Combines set up?
SF: An example of how one of our combines is set up is that the athlete will have seven different testing stations. One of the tests we run for baseball is the 60 yard dash. There are four laser gates - one at the starting line, and then one gate at 10 yards, 30, and 60 yards. Before an athlete enters into the starting gate for the 60 yard dash, they have to put a RFID band, which is a small elastic band, around the wrist. The athlete will scan their wrist at the starting gate reader, and that scan will let the recorders know who is running the course. As they run through, the athletes will be measured by audio, video, or they will step on a star-pad. These pads will within a half of a second, transmit that information from the dash wirelessly into a database.
We will then run the normative data numbers the athletes scored and compare them to over 20 years of baseball/softball sport-specific data that was collected by Dr. Frank Spaniol, who is a renowned international researcher on baseball. Dr. Spaniol is a professor at Texas A &M in Corpus Christi, Texas and is one of the members on our staff.
The number that we receive at the end of the testing is called BATS (baseball athletic test score) or SATS (softball athletic test score). Dr. Spaniol has tested everyone from Albert Pujols, to baseball players in the minor leagues, to high school athletes. We will then take that data and give the athletes recommendations on how to positively impact their baseball/softball performance.
Some of the other tests we will run are the 10 yard and 30 yard split, which is [designed] to compare acceleration in an athlete versus maximum velocity. We will look at lower body power, and rotational power with throwing a medicine ball. Other stations may include a T-test of agility for athletes—which includes forward, lateral, and backward running—as well as testing of bat speed, the impact of a batted ball, and throwing velocity.
In all of our GoSportsCombines, we are using the latest and most efficient forms of sports medicine testing, which is another vital aspect of our company and something that I feel will soon make us the leader in sports measuring.
AA: What type of technology is used at the GoSportsCombines?
SF: We have a laser-based timing system called smart speed, which is manufactured by Fusion Sports. It is an amazing piece of technology that makes the testing more efficient. It will put all of the data we receive in a list for us, thus making our work in comparing the athletes at our testing stations to data that was previously collected by Dr. Spaniol easier.
There is a smart jump feature that is more for volleyball and basketball players. It is a big mat that is connected to one of the gates that record the data of an athlete’s vertical leap and time of impact to the floor. This measures lower body power and helping athletes with timing lay-ups or volleyball spikes. We have the gates that are used in our combine, measure reaction time of when the audio or visual stimulus goes off and when the athlete starts, which is vital to track and field sprinters and helping to decrease their times.
There is also the Dartfish video program, which breaks down the athletes running forms and can help a baseball/softball player fix their swing.
AA: Who has been your main customer base thus far?
SF: So far our customers are of the 12-18 age brackets, with our highest interest level thus far being of the 12-14 age groups. This is the age where both coaches and parents see potential in an athlete who may not be really weight training yet. These athletes maybe on traveling teams, but they have no structured weight training program. These parents/coaches will say ‘hey let’s get these athletes tested and see where they are in terms of athletic development and what we can do to develop them into the best player possible.’
We want to take that athlete whose dream is to play at the collegiate level, but we will also help any other client that wishes to purchase our product. I have a nine year old step-son at home and can do numerous agility and other fun type exercises with him. Together we can do hurdles, cones, lineal and lateral movement drills. As long as you make it fun, the child will never really realize they are working out, unlike doing 10 laps around a football field. I would like to think we offer a more innovative way to make people exercise.
And say if you have made your dream of reaching the college level and just wish to improve on your overall athletic development, either you or your team can contact us and we will be glad to assist you with your goals.
AA: Can you tell us more about various members of your staff so that our readers can get a better grasp of the experience involved with the Go Sports products?
SF: Sure. Aside from Dr. Spaniel, I am very happy to have John Aaron who is our national testing director. John is based in Richmond, Virginia and has over 10 years of combine testing experience. He came to us from the National Athletic Testing system company and we are very lucky to have him. We are also lucky to have on the GoSportsTraining side of the business, Jay Twell, who is a co-founder and chief performance operator of the company. Jay is our quality control for all the developing of the strength and conditioning programs that we write up for our athletes. We also have at our disposal 50-70 strength coaches from MLB, NFL, and high school who are all willing to look over the completed workout programs and make sure that everything is designed correctly for the athletes.
AA: When do most of your combines take place?
SF: It is mainly based on the availability of the academy and the people we decide to develop a partnership with. We can do a combine at any time that it needs to be done, but usually most of the work we will get will be at the end of the high school baseball season.
AA: How does an athlete start the GoSportsTraining program if they are interested?
SF: Once an athlete purchases our product, the athlete then fills out an online survey that consists of what sports that person plays, age level, experience level, do you have any experience lifting yet, when they can train, what equipment is available to use. There is some equipment like cones and jump rope that you can buy that we can customize a program around, or we can even customize a program around no equipment at all. We really look at the athletes and decide from a library of strength and conditioning programs which is the best fit for that particular athlete. We are trying to fit the athletes that are purchasing our product, not pushing the athletes too hard or quickly, but making the athletes better so that they can reach their full potential.
One of the things we will be launching soon as a part of the GoSportsCombine.com website is the Online Player Locker Room for any of the athletes who get tested. It will serve as a promotional tool, which will post the test results and the videos and pictures of the athletes from the GoSportsCombines. The athlete can create an online profile of themselves and have it for recruiting purposes, and the portal will be open to any college coach or Major League Baseball scout. These people will look at the data, video, and stats and it will help that athlete play at the next level.
Also, with another unique part of our program, we will provide a customized nutrition program for any athlete and team that will recommend what you need to eat and how often and what to buy when you go to the grocery store. We do not deal in supplements, but a good diet is very important to the athlete and can help enhance an athlete’s training.
AA: How does your program account for injuries?
SF: One of the main things we will insist upon when an athlete starts a training program with us is that they get a physical done before starting the program. We really pride ourselves on writing our program for overall athleticism, combining speed, agility, conditioning, strength, power, flexibility, and core stabilization training. In the case of the baseball/softball program, we can do something that is more of a prehabilitation type of program for the rotator cuff to make it stronger and prevent injuries. The great thing about our annual program is that once purchased, the athletes can call or email us at any time for support, in the case [of] an injury. So say if an athlete sprains an ankle, they can just call us up and we will be glad to help them.
AA: What is the cost on the GoSportsTraining programs?
SF: We have a pre-season/in-season, off-season, and summer training system that can be purchased for $500 each. Our annual training system which includes all three seasons is $1250. All team training systems include: master training schedules for coaches, athlete record logs, a coach guide, instructional CD with a video library of exercises and drills, electronic and hard copies of forms, annual subscription to IMPACT magazine, and access to the team training website.
On behalf of Access Athletes, we would like to thank Shelly Francis for taking the time to tell us about GoSports Technologies. If you have any questions for Shelly, you can email her or connect with her on Twitter. Stacey Podelski was a contributing author to this article.