I’m not a founder myself, so I don’t really know how most startups, well, start. But I’ll take a guess that most don’t get their big break by sneaking into a NHL Combine.
But that’s how 2015 43North Winner CoachMePlus hit the ground running. Co-founders (and brothers) Kevin and Mike Dawidowicz snuck into the NHL Combine in Toronto so they could introduce themselves and their sports science software to the coaches. They had already been working with the Strength Coach at the Buffalo Sabres, so expanding to more NHL teams was the next practical step. As a result, the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets signed up for their program that day. Having these three franchises under their belt opened the door to expansion, and not just in the NHL.
Fast forward to today, CoachMePlus is working with over 200 colleges and a third of professional sports teams in North America, including both of this year’s Stanley Cup Finalists, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators.
The company began over a decade ago when sports training primarily involved workout plans on CDs. As technology and the sports industry advanced, however, coaches and athletic trainers realized a need for a more comprehensive program for their athletes.
At the time, athlete information was being stored in multiple places: workouts on CDs, pieces of paper with scribbled notes from a player’s weigh-in, spreadsheets, etc. It clearly wasn’t the most efficient way of managing a player’s health and readiness for a game, and actually made them more susceptible to injury.
CoachMePlus recognized this need, and decided to transform their product into a full-fledged sports science solution. Now, anything from weigh-ins to sleep schedules to workout and rehabilitation plans can be tracked and monitored in one place.
Why The CoachMePlus Software Works
If you ask the CoachMePlus team what makes their program effective, they’ll say the number one factor is team buy-in. If the players or management don’t see eye-to-eye on training programs or aren’t 100% dedicated to the process, it’s not going to work.
Their software focuses on the fundamentals when it comes to workouts and injury rehabilitation, which have been proven time and time again to be a key to success.
“The principles of what we do are fundamentally sound…if you work on the basics and get the culture buy-in, those organizations are much more successful,” Kevin Dawidowicz says of the program. The San Francisco Giants are a perfect example of this, according to Kevin. There is full commitment to the program from the top down, and players know what is expected of them every single day.
One of the biggest strengths of the CoachMePlus software is its flexibility. They start off with an out-of-the-box program and configure it to what the coaches and players need. This flexibility has allowed them to work with teams at all levels, from professional to high school.
While no software alone can prevent injuries, CoachMePlus can predict the likelihood of an injury based on an athlete’s condition, provide a program that will aid in healing, and determine when a player is ready to return to action.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are a perfect example of this. Both teams had their share of injuries throughout the season, but came back and ultimately made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Kevin shared that both these organizations are incredibly dedicated to using the software to monitor their players’ health and follow a strict plan to get players back on the ice at full strength. Again, it’s back to that team buy-in.
Building an Impressive Resume
Since working with their first team, the Buffalo Sabres, CoachMePlus has gone on to work with teams across the NFL, NHL, MLB, and NCAA, as well as the military and even Cirque du Soleil. Teams like the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco Giants, Clemson Tigers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Chicago White Sox turn to them for their expertise.
They were recently recognized by CSN Chicago for their work with the Chicago White Sox, specifically creating offseason programs customized for each player. This allowed the team to easily log in, see their workout plan for the day, and stay on track over the winter months to be ready for the 2017 season. It didn’t matter where a player was living, as long as they had an internet connection, they could access all of the data they needed to stay in game-ready shape.
CoachMePlus has evolved quite a bit since its early workout CD days, but its founders have stayed true to their roots. Founded in Buffalo and still based in Buffalo at the 43North/Z80 Labs incubator, their staff doesn’t claim to be the sole reason for a team’s success.
“Everybody wants to tie what you do to the wins that are achieved, but you are a small cog of a much larger machine,” Kevin says.
CoachMePlus might be only one piece of the puzzle, but they’re certainly a critical one.
For more about CoachMePlus, check out our conversation with Kevin in Episode 13 of Latitude, the 43North Podcast.