BridgeAthletic helped pioneer digitization in sports over the last ten-years with high-performance training technology that allowed data to be captured much like occurred in the navigation or securities trading systems back more than a decade ago. Michael Sharf, Founder and CEO at BridgeAthletic, and Charlie Steffens, VP Business Development, chatted with the Sports Techie community blog about their proprietary platform and technologies used by coaches and athletes to compete at the highest levels. The Bay Area company designs, delivers and tracks training plans. They next integrated their platform with tools allowing coaches to create, deliver and track an athlete’s progress. Finally, the development team enabled custom training programs to be used with digital devices delivering smart training to coaches and trainers through analytics powered workouts and via movement libraries, further optimizing the relationships with athletes. The future of BRIDGE will feature AI, machine learning, and more big data. BridgeAthletic partnerships with Proactive Sports Performance, EXOS and USC Athletics in the Pac-12 Conference helps them develop new tools. By continuing to innovate with the goal of a democratized training platform, high-level athletes are reaping the benefits provided by BridgeAthletic not available for coaches just 10-years ago. Their subscription-based platform now has 350 users across professional and college teams, Michael Johnson Performance, personal trainers, the government and more. Localization is ready to scale the technology worldwide. The company’s ultimate goal is to work with coaches to empower athletes, help practitioners become more efficient, while staying on the cutting edge of the new Holy Grail, the concept of readiness, where .001 gains in workload, nutrition and sleep, added all together is the new, holistic competitive edge.
COVID Bump With Holistic Training Surge
COVID-19 changed the world of training like everything else and advanced the digitization of BridgeAthletic’s software, similarly to the changing philosophies of training evolving in just a relatively short time.
Sharf talked about when training was more like a ‘hell week’ in terms of turning up the volume of reps, sets and resistance without taking the necessary time to recover, rest and sleep. The days when players came to training camps out of shape are pretty much over now as athletes and trainers now trust the data and more holistic performance training methods on a year-round basis. My generation and those before me believed in training harder resulting in putting more strain on the body. This one-track mindset began to shift as science better understood the critical need to sleep and recover resulting in the move away from high-octane training sessions to more balanced physical training.
Water Polo Roots
Michael was a former amateur, professional and collegiate water polo player for the US National team in 2010, for his professional team in Spain, and before that with the UC Berkley squad as an All-American and team Captain.
During those times, much of the training plans his coaching staffs shared were done on paper, chalkboard, text messaging and excel spreadsheets. This system was not the best way to save, tweak and share training methods, especially when competing remotely on the other side of the world. Digitizing human performance to empower better outcomes in sports, health and life is how BridgeAthletic was conceived.
Today, strength coaches, personal trainers and instructors providing private workout sessions can use the technology and tools remotely to create highly custom workouts delivered to individual athletes on smartphones or tablets then track progress. Monetizing personal training, or strength and conditioning has never been easier.
Proactive Sports Performance
Proactive has a 17,000 ft cutting edge facility in Westlake Village, CA where they continue to push through existing training barriers by utilizing data-driven workouts. They consistently track the improvement of clients and compare metrics against their former selves together with BRIDGE. Proactive’s vast library of data points enables them to compile numbers captured from their elite client base, access them instantaneously, then produce highly motivating performance benchmarks to reach for.
BridgeAthletic stepped into digitize Proactive’s unique design, delivery, and tracking of training data. BridgeAthletic is also helping Proactive democratize their training for elite athletes to youth athletes and fitness enthusiasts who want to train in a private setting. Proactive’s client list includes dozens of NFL All-Pros (Aaron Rodgers), numerous NBA All-Stars (Donovan Mitchell), and multiple league MVPs.
BridgeAthletic acts as USC’s data and content platform allowing the school to customize training programs per athlete done so they are unique and with value. Not knowing the safety of training facilities and remote workouts as COVID surges yet again ensures the importance of individualized workouts.
Steffans was careful to not talk too much about existing clients because of confidentiality but he did share how the USC basketball and volleyball teams track and accessing the training better with COVID restrictions to make better decision-making with BRIDGE as the delivery mechanism. Their student-athletes can be located anywhere because the central system used to distribute training is hosted in the cloud. They design and deliver content to a facility or on the field while USC coaches and trainers leverage the data and customize it in real-time for better health comes, reduced injuries and ultimately, better outcomes. USC is also using the advance sports tech platform in live competition or versus teammates.
USC’s performance training department has a track record of implementing visionary training procedures for their student-athletes as they work with BridgeAthletic to digitize human performance acting as a role model for the majority of universities that are slow to update. USC plans to add recovery/regeneration modalities to its personalized training programs in the near future. As a measure of their success, USC finished sixth in the 2020-2021 Division I Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings, their sixth consecutive top-six finish.
Mark Verstegen is Founder and President of EXOS, the global leader in human performance through dedicated specialists, data-driven solutions powered by AthleteBridge to deliver and track the training plans, and a proven legacy. They have 13 training facilities including one in Phoenix where most of the players that train for the NFL Combine go, as well as many professional golfers. EXOS also features research group-based programs. With EXOS templates and training engine, users can design a program with customization and scale with the wizard.
AthleteBridge’s platform was first to handle data structure, then by seeding the tool with training plans, movement libraries and templated programs, it became self-serve with partnerships the likes of Proactive, EXOS and USC, along with the government. The future looks to add different modalities, more advanced algorithms and machine learning for optimizing outcomes with innovative partners.
I asked about the localization capabilities of the platform. The next phase says Michael is for the platform to be authored in other languages like Portuguese in Brazil. Overseas content is entered as the verbiage of the practitioner so it works with a coach or physical therapist (PT) in the specific language needed. For example, users can tailor the movement library renamed to their own language. This is one-way BridgeAthletic plans to scale internationally.
Sports Techie, “Readiness” is a term Sharf used to describe perhaps the most important aspect of human performance to date. As the industry shifts further into optimization represented by athletes having extended careers such as Tom Brady or come ready to play like college freshman, the notion that recovery sleep and nutrition capabilities together with other modalities of training such as mindfulness, or a Hyperice product (BridgeAthletic partner) used for recovery and regeneration of the body, all combine together for optimized performance. BRIDGE acts as the design, delivery and tracking digital backbone for all these tools. The exponentially growing holistic platform offers more than strength and conditioning, it includes playability.
Next-gen readiness will prove that happens with BridgeAthletic.
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