By: Mark Adams
I have been observing the Fenwick JVA baseball team as the head coach (Coach Tyree Foster) and his two assistant coaches (Coach Matt Davenport and Coach Robert Hanes) are now tracking hustle stats. The coaches are positively focused, and both assistant coaches are now very engaged in tracking hustle stats in Focus during their games.
Hustle stats are behaviors that require no real talent, just concentration and effort. Think sprint to 1st base regardless of circumstance, backing up plays, showing energy back to the dugout, etc. Focus is a tool for these coaches to track those behaviors for each player and grade them and their team as a whole.
Coach Hanes told me, “I love tracking the hustle stats because it keeps me focused on the right things versus a mistake. I can now concentrate on how we can get better just by tracking who is hustling and who isn’t.”
I can see the team culture changing because these two assistant coaches have bought in and are measuring each player in the same way every single play. It is about effort and concentration and the belief that winning will take care of itself IF the players simply give their best effort.
This team is not overly gifted but has embraced the Focus stats as part of their team DNA. Recently, they played their best game of the season, and I physically saw a difference in the team, especially when sprinting to first base. They won 5-3 and those hustle plays literally produced two extra runs in their victory!
As per Focus, the team graded out at an impressive 100% sprinting to 1st base, versus a season average to date of 75%. Based on our experiences using the app, we believe teams who grade out above 80% are usually very competitive regarding the final score of a game. Fenwick’s 100% sprinting grade literally won them the game.
Players know they are being evaluated by their hustle. They know there is an app and by seeing the coaches track it on a device in the dugout, it creates an accountability culture around these hustle behaviors. The players seem more intentional about giving better effort and coaches are reinforcing those hustle plays in a more meaningful way in real time in the dugout. I can hear them from where I sit.
The marriage of expectations with technology that measures and grades each player’s hustle in real time can be a valuable coaching/teaching tool. These coaches get it and it is fun to watch!