Managing a team is about far more than breaking down film, preparing tactics and getting results on the field.
There are group texts sent out as reminders for team lifting sessions or one-on-one meetings. A spreadsheet holds every parent’s and player’s contact information, and a Google Calendar contains that season’s slate of home and away matches. Emails and phone calls go back and forth, trying to sort out details, all across myriad platforms and devices.
That all sparked an idea of consolidating communication, performance and operational tools into one mobile-friendly app: DRIVN, which launched in November 2015.
“We offer our club customers a range of features that they help us determine at the beginning of the relationship,” DRIVN CEO Chris Heidelberger said, “and then tier those details to be appropriate for each specific age group.”
Have a U-8 team in your club? Trackers might be tailored to measure how much fun a player had at practice, or to rate sportsmanship and the like. Have a U-17 team for whom college recruiting is gearing up? Trackers might include grades or SAT scores.
At the heart of this ability to customize trackers, though, is a desire to help keep athletes healthy. Jim Liston, director of sports science for Toronto FC, said those different metrics are invaluable.
“We use DRIVN with all of our Academy teams,” Liston said. “The DRIVN platform allows us to quantify and monitor training load and to chart changes in growth and maturation. This allows our staff to build sensible, periodized training programs that can be adjusted for the individual. This is no small feat in a team sport that fields 11 players at a time, with a roster of 18 or more.”
Outside of Toronto FC, DRIVN already has partnered with D.C. United, Sporting Kansas City, and Pateadores in the soccer space. While Colleen Coyne, director of marketing at DRIVN, said the company takes immense pride in their partnerships with MLS clubs, the Pateadores example speaks to a larger, unique opportunity.
DRIVN has partnered with the Los Angeles-based club to create its own branded app that can be downloaded from the iTunes, Google and Android stores. That is an invaluable element, Coyne said, because it helps to further a club’s brand while also standardizing how teams operate and communicate. This consistency ultimately provides a better experience for athletes, parents and coaches.
“This allows a club to convey the values of their program, their culture, and their own mission from the top down,” said Coyne, a native of East Falmouth, Mass., who starred in hockey at the University of New Hampshire and won a gold medal with Team USA at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano. “It also allows coaches to give and receive ongoing communication to improve the overall experience for the athlete and coaches. Most conflicts, most issues come up from a lack of communication or poor communication, so this helps avoid that.”
There is, however, a key nuance in terms of who uses DRIVN, Heidelberger said. Parents are the primary users for athletes up until age 13, so they often initiate responses and the tracking of different metrics.
“It’s a great message platform for parents,” Heidelberger said. “They’re a huge part of the user equation for us.”
And on the parent front, said Mike Gosselin, director of sales for DRIVN, each club has the flexibility to control what parents can do and see, and how they interact. For instance, the chat feature might give parents access to each other and an administrator. It can, however, be configured to let parents chat with coaches and players.
“All the rules set up according to the club’s desires,” Gosselin said. “Each person has their own set of controls.”
Now, DRIVN does face market competitors, namely in TeamSnap and Team App, two apps that mainly focus on enhancing communications. But what differentiates DRIVN, Heidelberger said, is the breadth of possibilities due to the customization the platform allows.
Within DRIVN, coaches can house a team roster, sports performance player cards, daily questionnaires, video clips, team files, a calendar that’s aligned with academic and athletic schedules, and chat rooms. Every need, Heidelberger said, exists in one central location.
“It’s not a six-month ramp-up time,” Heidelberger said. “We basically become your web and mobile technology partner, and within a couple weeks or less can roll out the desired product.”
DRIVN also has mobile and desktop capability, but Gosselin said the former is essential.
“You can send teenagers a thousand emails and they won’t get back to you,” Gosselin said, “but they will respond if it’s an app with notifications and texting.”
That’s the reality of the mobile-centric world we live in, where athletes check their phones after each class, stuff it into their backpacks just before practice and scroll through social media after a game. For Gosselin, it’s as simple as bringing the product to where players, coaches and parents already exist in droves.
“The idea is the phone is here, it’s not going away,” Gosselin said. “What we’re doing at DRIVN is finding a way to use the phone more productively. We think parents will embrace that.”
DRIVN is based in Natick, Mass., and the pricing is tiered at different levels based on product offerings.
Content produced by New England Soccer Journal in conjunction with DRIVN.