May 20, 2023
by Everett Ridderbos, Director S&C, Holy Family (Broomfield, Colorado)
This article is the first installment of a four-part series about my 16 months of experience with velocity-based training and the MoveFactorX product within a high school setting. As the title of this article suggests, I wanted to start out by explaining why I went with MoveFactorX (MFX).
I felt that writing this series was important because the communication of experiential coaching education within high school strength & conditioning seems to be lacking. We see a lot of social media splashes of “hey, look at this new product...” but the follow up and substance is hardly there. Or I will try to engage on a Twitter thread and ask questions, then get met with vague or empty suit confusing responses.
There is so much to learn and share in our coaching community, and since sport technology feedback (especially VBT) is such a hot area I wanted to share my experiences, coach to coach. Setting the tone for the younger and emerging athlete is a responsibility for all of us high school strength coaches, and I hope my words help create better communication, awareness, and results. We need to learn from each other.
A little bit about myself and situation
I am the Director of S&C at Holy Family High School in Broomfield, CO. I am responsible for all the S&C that takes place either before or after school and the summer S&C camp. A lot of the time I only see athletes when they are in season for their sport. This can make programming a little tricky at times, but I feel like I have figured out a good system for managing their workload while still working on filling the “strength bucket” for the in-season athletes. My primary focus for in-season training is to focus on speed and power development. This means we need to focus on moving weight fast through specific ranges of motion. I like to focus on joint angles and ranges of motion that they will see in their sport in order to get the most transfer to the field of play as possible. I also want to use a familiar movement that has a short learning curve, so we are able to progress a little faster than if they weren’t in season.
Coach Ridderbos shares how Holy Family uses the Trap Bar Jump exercise protocol to instantly assess movement performance feedback with objective information. The athlete's interaction with the MFX sensor & mobile application is often described within coaching circles as increasing focus and intention during each repetition. The evidence-based approach is found to be engaging and motivating to the developing athlete.
Why I ended up choosing MoveFactorX out of all of the other VBT companies out there
I first started researching the different options for VBT in early 2021. I was listening to podcasts, reading articles, talking with other S&C coaches to try and figure out which product would work best for me and my situation. One of the options that was suggested to me was Bar Sensei.
After some poking around I found that the Bar Sensei had been discontinued and was being upgraded to a next-generation velocity-based training product called MoveFactorX. This product option checked a couple of boxes for me right off the bat:
I reached out to the company to get more information and since the company was based out of Colorado, I was able to schedule a meeting with Scott Damman to come by the school to demonstrate the product.
Scott came out to my school in August of 2021 to demo the product. I am glad he made the visit because had I not seen the MoveFactorX (MFX) firsthand I probably would have went with another product. At that time I was all but set on picking a device that was a linear position transducer (LPT). From what I had heard from coaches the LPT style gives you more accurate results on barbell speed, so naturally, I figured that would be the best way to go.
The MoveFactorX sensor is a wireless ultra-portable footprint, weighing less than 30 grams. The sensor is secured and protected with a neoprene sleeve (image shows attached [red area] to the barbell) and can be placed on various areas of the barbell. Also shown in this image is a LPT style product, a string-based option which is attached to the bar and extends to an encoder box.
In retrospect, I almost made an incorrect decision based on a point I want to try to get across to fellow coaches, please be careful of what you hear and make sure you are really understanding what you need. This point ties right back to what I mentioned above about vagueness, we really need to dig a bit deeper to understand the richness of the soil, not be satisfied with what we hear and see on the surface.
During the demo I was very impressed with the MoveFactorX ability to produce consistent readings that were very close to the readings I was getting from the LPT product. The side-by-side comparison was a confidence builder. Then, Scott and I talked about the expanded utility of the MFX product and my eyes got a bit bigger. This product offers advanced metrics that I had no idea a low cost and tiny product could do. I knew I had found a VBT product that offered what I was looking for today, and I knew this product allowed me to grow as I became more educated about VBT application.
Even though seeing the future added utility was interesting, making sure this product was a practical fit for today was very important to me. I really liked the balance of future proofing my VBT investment and enabling myself to grow with the product, but I needed to make sure I was buying something to solve my needs today.
With that being said, the three points that really sold me on MoveFactorX were:
Developing the Complete Athlete: turning the instant performance feedback into insights to help understand the athlethowe is progressing, along with areas to consider for improvement. Basic reporting, including this graph example, are not an added cost. When you make your up-front MoveFactorX purchase, you gets piles of team utility with no added subsciption fee requirements.
Implementing with the athletes, intuitive nature
When we put the modules into action I had zero issues with athletes learning how to log in and use the device. Even if an athlete hasn’t used it for several months, since it is so intuitive, they are able to log back in with no issues. As I mentioned earlier the cost allowed me to make one purchase instead of making multiple purchases over the course of several years. Not having to pay a subscription fee is also great because I don’t have to budget for that cost each year. The insights dashboard, which is currently in beta, has been a great tool. It has allowed me to be able to quickly look at athletes rolling averages on specific metrics, so I don’t need to spend hours combing through the data to find what I need. It is also easy to understand from an athlete or coach's standpoint. I can show the athletes how they are improving over time with just one picture. There have been some issues accessing some of the data but I know that the company is doing everything they can to resolve those issues and improve the dashboard even more.
Overall, I have really enjoyed being part of this expanding platform and have been an eyewitness to watch it develop over the 16 months we have used MFX. I try to be an active participant in the process and engage to provide feedback and suggestions. The MFX guys listen and are honest about what is feasible. It’s really cool when working together and a partnership really is just that, and I hope this first article installment was helpful to you.
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