Letting Technology Make Player Evals Easier
The End Of The Nightmarish Tracking of Player Evals … Todd Larson and Chris Knutson have created TeamGenius, an easy to use and very powerful app.
Technology is not always perfect, but a great app makes our lives dramatically easier. Technology can replace time-consuming tasks and organize data better and faster than any human … and when an app works, it is really a gift to us all. Youth soccer tryouts can really benefit from harnessing the power of technology and avoiding the endlessly inefficient clipboards and inconsistent ways of evaluating players.
TeamGenius is a really cool app that makes evaluating players for youth soccer club tryouts super simple and very comprehensive. The platform also makes coach evaluations for tryouts, camps or end-of-season reviews quick and easy — and visually compares multiple players’ performance rankings with a simple click. A player’s evaluations can be analyzed immediately — helping make decisions on roster spots with clarity.
TeamGenius was one of the companies in the Exhibit Hall at the United Soccer Coaches Convention this year that caught our attention.
From player check-in to player evaluations, TeamGenius handles data the way a coach thinks and makes it easy to compare and contrast player rankings — from multiple coaches evaluating multiple aspects of performance.
With lots of customizable and robust features, TeamGenius has recently become the official player evaluation app of US Youth Soccer‘s ODP.
Interview with TeamGenius’ Co-Founders Todd Larson, CTO, and Chris Knutson, CEO
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspired you to create TeamGenius?
Todd Larson: As a soccer coach and volunteer, I saw first hand how much work goes into giving kids a chance to play the game. And, I know from personal experience how rewarding and beneficial playing sports is as a kid.
Anything we can do to share the load and make these folks jobs easier would benefit everyone involved.
After witnessing the pain of running tryouts for hundreds of kids using nothing but paper forms and spreadsheets, I knew I had found a huge opportunity for improvement and that I could make a difference with technology.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the goal? To make an app that was super easy for coaches to use?
Todd Larson: It’s pretty simple really, the goal is to enable coaches and club management to spend more time working with kids and enjoying the game, and less on admin hassles. For most clubs, tryouts and player evaluations are one of their biggest headaches of the year, so we set out to make them easier.
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you describe TeamGenius?
Chris Knutson: TeamGenius replaces the paper and spreadsheet process to help clubs eliminate the administrative hassles associated with organizing tryouts, sharing feedback, and tracking player development
Diane Scavuzzo: Exactly how does TeamGenius help take the stress out of tryouts?
Chris Knutson: Tryouts are stressful for everyone involved – players, parents, coaches, staff, and volunteers, so the answer to this question is best taken from a few perspectives.
For administrators/staff/volunteers, TeamGenius eliminates dozens of hours of manual data entry and streamlines the data management across the board — from player check-in to generating rankings and communicating results.
Coaches can make more informed and faster decisions with TeamGenius.
For competitive teams, real-time data means decisions can be made immediately and offers can go out to players quickly — this helps clubs offer roster spots to the kids they really want and not lose top players to competing clubs.
For coaches, TeamGenius let’s player evaluations be about the player and not the process. It eliminates concerns of lost scores due to illegible handwriting, or rain — or trying to track down a coach after practice to ask for their thoughts on a candidate. Every evaluation can be part of the decision.
For Parents and their players, TeamGenius is a great customer service tool and the app provides a more fair and accurate player evaluation — and even helps reduce coach bias.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does TeamGenius eliminate coach bias?
Todd Larson: It is easy to spot any outliers in the player evaluation data. If there is a coach bias, his or her rankings of a player are usually an outlier. You can remove those scores from player rankings with a single click and determine the influence or rankings with or without the outlier.
It is all about helping players be more successful – Making Sure They Are Offered a Roster Spot on the Right Team
Since data isn’t handwritten, valuable scores and information aren’t misread or keyed into a spreadsheet. More accurate, complete and immediate data means players are more likely to be offered a spot at the appropriate skill level, ensuring they get more playing time and have more fun.
Diane Scavuzzo: Will TeamGenius only work with the internet?
Chris Knutson: The TeamGenius mobile app works with or without an internet connection.
Scores and comments are saved to the cloud in real-time if connected. Otherwise, they’re saved to the device locally and synced later.
Diane Scavuzzo: What happens if a player comes to tryouts and has not registered — Can they still get on the field and tryout?
Todd Larson: Absolutely. TeamGenius was carefully designed — after years of real experience with the entire tryouts process. Someone at check-in can add a walk-up player and assign a tryout number, or group, and take a profile photo on the field — right from the same check-in screen.
Diane Scavuzzo: Take a picture? How does TeamGenius use digital photography?
Todd Larson: TeamGenius connects with your phone’s camera if you want to take profile photos of each player as they arrive.
The photos appear with the players’ ranking to help jog the coach’s memory.
The TeamGenius app uses Microsoft’s Cognitive Services API which identifies where the face in the photo and automatically crops a close face photo for the perfect headshot.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does the player evaluation in TeamGenius work?
Chris Knutson: The scoring system is completely customizable so it works for any organization, even if they’ve designed their own methodology.
Scoring can be set up with sliders or drop-down menus, and ranges can be customized. A club can even use words or phrases instead of numbers to rank players.
For example, Instead of telling a 9-year-old he or she is a 2 out of 5 on Technical Ability, the feedback could show “needs improvement.”
Weights can also be set to emphasize particular skills.
For example, perhaps for your younger age groups, you want to make technical skills worth more than other criteria, and you want tactical skills to be emphasized more for older players. This is as simple as clicking the weight percentages and entering the values you want during set up.
All the player evaluations and assessments can be part of a coach’s feedback to the players in an “End of Season Player Evaluation” — or any other recap a program wants to send out.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can the app help a coach compare two players who are close in rank?
Chris Knutson: Certainly. Coaches can use our analysis tools to compare and contrast the players’ performance — all the evaluation results can be filtered and sorted and specific players can be selected for direct comparison.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you give me an example?
Chris Knutson: Perhaps you need to make a decision about which U12 defender to fill the last roster spot on your top team. You’re able to filter by just U12 Defenders and then look at charts, graphs and tables to get a sense of which player excels in the attributes you care most about.
Diane Scavuzzo: The app has lots of features, even a built-in stopwatch — why add a stopwatch?
Chris Knutson: The stopwatch is great for any timed drills like a 40-yard dash or 3 cone drill — you don’t want to have to switch between your phone’s clock and the app when you paying attention to evaluating a player, right?
Diane Scavuzzo: One last question — can you import data into TeamGenius?
Chris Knutson: Yes, of course. It is simple to upload players from a CSV file or through one of our integration partners like SportsEngine or TeamSnap.