How can Human Performance leaders effectively communicate the Return on Investment (ROI) of their performance programs? In this episode, experts from professional and collegiate sports provide practical tips for securing the funds to grow your human performance program and deliver high-quality service to your athletes.




The Vanguard Roundtable Podcast


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Emma Ostermann  0:08

Welcome to the Vanguard roundtable podcast where we discuss the latest trends driving the human performance industry forward. I’m your host, Emma Osterman. In this episode, we discuss how human performance leaders can more effectively communicate the return on investment of their performance programs. We explore why it’s important to measure the impact of your program, what some of the key drivers of ROI are, and how data and analytics platforms can help. Today’s roundtable guests include Dennis Mannion, CEO and President of House of 7 and former president and COO of the LA Dodgers, Dr. Jordan Troester, Director of performance and Sports Science at the University of Oregon, and Dan Duffield, Global Solutions Consultant at Fusion sport. The views expressed today are those of the individual guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of fusion sport or the guests organizations. Enjoy the episode. The Vanguard Roundtable Podcast is brought to you by Fusion Sport maker of Smartabase, the premier human performance optimization platform for elite sports and military organizations. To help make sense of the ever growing human performance tech landscape Smartabase has created the HBO tech stack. This resource organizes hundreds of performance tech on the market today into outcome based categories such as external load monitoring, hydration, performance tracking, musculoskeletal screening, and more. To download your free copy of the HBO tech stack, visit, Now back to the episode. Dennis, Jordan, and Dan, welcome to the Vanguard Roundtable Podcast. Before we dive into the questions, could you tell us a bit about yourself, Jordan?

Jordan Troester  1:57

Yeah, I’m the director of performance and Sports Science here at the University of Oregon. I’ve been in this role for about the last two years with my background care traversing all over the place, including previous stops with the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL, professional rugby, Australia where I ended up doing my PhD. And prior to that really just a background as a strength and conditioning coach who use technology and got more invested in the sports science side of things. And, and so I’ve seen high performance environments from a lot of different angles. And I’m trying to take that experience here in order to build a team with a holistic approach on how we can support our athletes, the best.

Emma Ostermann  2:29

Awesome, Dennis?

Dennis Mannion  2:35

Like Jordan, I’ve bounced across the country several times, mostly have been in pro sports, I started with the Philadelphia Phillies, and I was there for about 15 years and then left to become the COO for the avalanche and the nuggets in Denver. And then I went to the Ravens I was there for about eight years as their head of business ventures, and then president of the Dodgers for five years and then to the pistons, where I was there for about seven years. And then shortly after that, lucky me, I came up with chronic Lyme disease. And the reason why that’s relevant to this conversation is it did pretty much forced me to take a break from that work world. And the team got me to a place called resilience code in Colorado. And that’s where they discovered that I had the chronic Lyme. And while I was there, the founder was fairly smart. He said he’d helped me turn my business around. So that’s when I got into the human performance side of things. You know, otherwise, it’s all tangential to my career as on the business side for the most part, but I saw plenty with the players. And there were an awful lot about all the different variables in their lives and what affects their performance. So I still run resilience code and have a consulting business called House of 7, and I consult sports teams as well as regular businesses on how to scale their businesses.

Emma Ostermann  3:55

Excellent, and finally, Dan.

Dan Duffield  3:58

Yes, my background is pretty similar in having been all over the place. So I’ve actually been at Fusion Sport for the last almost 10 years now started off just as a sport science consultant, supporting our customers on the implementation of Smartabase. Mainly in sport. So in the first three or four years, it was primarily sport. And I spent time in Australia, the UK and obviously most recently here in the US, and then transition across to a bit of the military stuff as well, where I was able to borrow a lot of the experience from sport and apply that into the performance environments that are being created in the military. And so my role now, official title is Global Solutions Consultant. And what I specialize in is understanding the problems mainly in the military right now, but a little bit in sport that our customers are facing and try to find solutions with Smartabase and other products that are available to meet the needs and solve those problems.

Emma Ostermann  5:02

Excellent. Dan Dennis, and Jordan, we’re excited to have you guys and dive into this conversation. So let’s go ahead and dive into it. First up, Dennis, I’m going to pose this next question to you is, why is it important for human performance leaders to demonstrate the return on investment of the performance programs? Dennis,

Dennis Mannion  5:19

I think that there, I’ve just started with this, there’s so many variables that affect human performance and in business performance, as well as sport. And, you know, your ability to make a pitch in terms of the algorithm. So if we do this, it’ll lead to that, I think critically important for both teams and businesses to understand, this is why we would do this, but there are many very, very variables to capture. So I think it’s super important to shine a bright light, you know, on the pathways to success. And that goes for even teams that have used analytics for a long time, but haven’t really zoned in on the type of insight insights that somebody could provide from a particular company. And I do think that we’re in this world now where it’s like metric mania on all fronts. And if you’re unable to explain what this could do to your mentor met, met metrics in terms of wins, losses, injuries, no injuries, or, in a business’s case, clearly, you’ve got to be able to show the pathway to why this would help. And we’ve been through, you know, years of Google having a commissary and ping pong table, and a lot of businesses think that’s, that’s helping performance, when in reality, there are many different things you can do with your brain, body and your blood, that improve your performance. So I think that’s really key. So bringing that close to the goals of the team. And the goal, the business is really, really critical. And I think that leaders in this position have to be able to demonstrate the ROI for both both both sports side and business side.

Emma Ostermann  6:58

Absolutely, Jordan, especially within the collegiate setting, how would you apply this well, with where you’re at?

Jordan Troester  7:04

Yeah, you mentioned the goals of the team and things like that, Dennis, it really comes back to for us, we have a lot of different stakeholders, right? When we think about 20 different sports, and really a head coach in each of those sports that we think about return on investment, maybe if that coach is just attention and willingness to give time, or the athletes energy towards human performance related initiatives. So we’re working to gain their investment, maybe it’s administration, and we want to prove that, hey, this sports performance thing can impact our organization as a whole. I think for us, at least the first thing is identifying who are those stakeholders? And then what are their goals? What’s their deep burning question? What’s their pain point? And how can we address that in some way. And so again, we come back to our philosophy, and this is from a kind of a sports science side of things, but it’s really just using better information to make better decisions. And we can hopefully connect and resonate with everyone around that that core principle, whether that’s an administrator or a head coach, we can’t make the decisions for you can’t tell you what, what to do. But if we give you better information, to be empowered to make those decisions, hopefully, then they immediately recognize that value or that return because all of a sudden, they’re empowered to do their jobs better and ultimately pursue their goals or their outcomes that they want. So for me, that’s been a huge realization, just recognizing those stakeholders and what their, their real desires are.

Emma Ostermann  8:48

Absolutely, Jordan, when it comes to identifying those stakeholders, do you go through a process within your organization? Whether it’s conversation or speaking with other admins, how do you how do you go about identifying the stakeholders?

Jordan Troester  9:01

Yeah, it’s really, it’s really so relational. To be honest, it’s having relationships with administration and the casual conversations that come standing on the side of field at practice at times and our administration is a great example, we come back to just sitting around and talking about things that are sometimes unrelated to sport, but we come back to our student athletes and it becomes more and more clear that for them everything comes back to first and foremost is the student athlete experience. That’s their goal is to promote the student athlete, collegiate athletic experience. And so how can we support that because when you talk about the business side of things versus collegiate athletics, technically collegiate athletics is a nonprofit venture. Right? We’re hoping to break even at best and support the experience of our fans, our athletes and have some competitive success in the process. Because that’s always a lot more fun. But yeah, it’s just those conversations. It’s having time Around the coach, maybe it’s not the head coach at first, but it’s one of his assistants or graduate assistants who’s interested in just the fringes. And you can start to understand what captures their attention and get more traction around their perspective and their goals and start delivering information or processes that support them. And then results ultimately generate more engagement. So engagement for us in the collegiate setting is a win as much as anything. Now ultimately, I think I’d love to work towards an environment where there are hard tangible return on investment type of metrics. But engagement, pure and simple is probably your best starting point.

Emma Ostermann  10:48

Absolutely. You know what, I want to pose this next question to Dan, this follow up on what we’ve already been speaking about. Dan, I know you’ve been working, you know, predominantly with on the military side, you have experience on the sports side, especially when it comes to the visualizations piece. But do we think performance programs are showing their value appropriately?

Dan Duffield  11:05

Yeah, I mean, that’s a that’s a good question. I think it’s developed quite well, over time that I think, to Jordan’s point, the based on the different stakeholders, we have more and more challenges of whether it’s the people who fund the program, we need to show them return on investment that were performing better as a result of the performance programs we put in. If it’s the athletes themselves, you know, we have to show that the time that they’re investing into spending time with the performance staff is actually creating benefit, better performance for them. I think performance programs over time have become really, really good at the day to day tactical stuff. So you know, whether it’s collecting data on training loads, whether it’s doing weigh ins way outs, wellness questionnaires. And then aside with that, you’ve got the performance data. So what are the game stats? You know, are we getting better times if we’re talking about Olympic sports, what I think the big challenge for performance programs moving forward is, is to be able to connect the outcomes of the tactical things that we’re doing day to day. So the wellness, the recovery, those types of things, and tying that to the performance to say, when we do these types of things in our performance program, we get better outcomes, and that’s the return on investment. Again, the issue is, we have so many stakeholders, and their outcome is often different. But I think the biggest challenge for us moving forward is taking everything that we’re doing and our performance programs, and then being able to demonstrate how that benefits, the performance at the end of the day, is how we’re going to show ROI in our performance programs.

Emma Ostermann  12:53

Perfect. Such a great conversation so far. But I want to keep it moving. Jordan, I’m going to pose this next question to you, what are the key drivers of ROI or return on investment for human performance programs? Jordan?

Jordan Troester  13:06

Yeah, we touched on a few of these concepts already. And again, I think the collegiate environment is unique. It comes down to for us, the student athlete experience, first and foremost, and competitive success across a lot of different sports and, and a lot of different environments like those are, those are the key returns that we always stay focused on. But then ultimately, we look at what contributes to those. And a big project that I dug into when I got here was really just understanding our injury incidence and availability. Which again, coming from, say, a hockey team with 25 guys more or less on the roster, you can stay on top of that pretty easily. But all of a sudden, we’ve got 20 sports and foreign and 50 student athletes and practices and conditioning sessions and things left and right actually coming away with processes to understand what availability means, what our availability trends look like, what our key injury incidence and severity that impacts availability historically are so that we can educate our staff and understand what to prepare for those seem like really simple things. But amongst large organizations, with lots of moving parts, oftentimes people operating in their own silos, that stuff gets missed. So in reality, I think it’s some really simple things like that, of just creating clarity on what we’re trying to accomplish across the team. And we have clear clarity on some of those key pieces that contribute to ROI and then we can all work towards those together. So for us, that’s availability. For us, that’s what we would call wellness, which is really nutrition, hydration, sleep recovery, kind of those core wellness. Things we talk all the time it doesn’t matter. Like how hard you train or how while you practice, we just got to get these 18 year old kids to eat a couple meals a day and have a decent night’s sleep. And that’s going to you, we can get lost in the weeds and forget about the basics. So quantifying those things are injury incidents, our availability and our wellness. And then our training consistency is the third one. And availability ties into that, but there’s a lot of other things like academic obligations and, and other things that can interfere with training consistency. So if we can dial those three things in, and then obviously trust that we have great coaches who have worked to this point in their career and can put solid programming in place off the back of that, then we’re gonna put ourselves in a great position for success.

Dan Duffield  15:49

And Jordan and you mentioned the student experience a couple of times already. And kind of curious on that one, in terms of defining that is that the students engaging with the performance program and making it in making it kind of an enjoyable experience for them to come in? And do the recovery protocols do? Do their training sessions? Is that kind of what you’re getting out in that space?

Jordan Troester  16:17

Yeah, that’s definitely part of it. I think that concept is, is much bigger, it’s that concept of this kid from the age of what whatever, eight years old, when they started playing soccer, had something to look forward to something to strive for something to dream for, which for a lot of these athletes, their collegiate athletic participation will be the culmination of their athletic experience. And they’ve been working toward this and dreaming about this their entire lives. And we want to do our part to follow through on that, that in which means, yeah, keeping them healthy, so that they can play ensuring that the balance between their academic obligations and their sport obligations, yeah, are, are coordinated enough that they aren’t overwhelmed. They have agency over their time and ability, showing them progress over the course of their career understanding, Hey, these are my areas of opportunity, I want to grow and develop as an athlete and as a person in these ways, and we can support their growth and development. And I suppose, yeah, prove that to them, say, Hey, this is where you came in. And this is where you left and we want to, we want to have played a part in in your development through that process, I think and ultimately, just then the fun the enjoyment, the camaraderie of being a part of a team, having a fan base that supports you, and all those sorts of things. I think, yeah, there’s a ton that play into it from the performance side, though. Yeah, so much of it is about their probably individual development over time, as well as the support that they feel like they have received in achieving their goals, and handling adversity, be that injury, or anything else. Yeah.

Dan Duffield  18:07

So that sounds like a really holistic approach. Rather than just kind of narrowing it down to right. We want you to make sure your nutrition is right. And your recovery is right. It’s like we want to make sure you’re still enjoying the sport that you’ve been playing your whole life and make sure you’re having a great experience with it throughout the time at Oregon. So yeah, and I appreciate you sharing that I was just curious as to how big that scope was.

Jordan Troester  18:32

And it’s easily lost. I mean, ask any athlete who’s played at a high level and is gone through the grind for a long period of time. And it’s easy to lose or forget where that enjoyment came from in the first place. And so yeah, it’s just trying to stay in touch with that the best we can.

Dan Duffield  18:49

Yeah. And would you? So just one more question on that, would you kind of expect to see, and maybe there is data to back this up. But when with the athletes that I guess they’re experiencing? Or having that great student experience, they’re obviously engaging with the performance staff? Maybe more as a result? Have you seen any data so far? Are you expecting to see any data where that’s maybe improving availability or potentially contributing to injuries or reducing injuries? Is that kind of what you’re expecting to see? Or do you just doing that independently, just because it’s a good thing to do? And then availability and that type of thing is a completely other additional challenge that you’re facing?

Jordan Troester  19:29

No. I mean, I think they’re all connected. I mean, you take availability, that’s a huge part of it, right? An athlete who has a career riddled with injuries is going to struggle to enjoy their experience to its fullest, right. We certainly believe that their engagement in human performance initiatives, training, recovery, everything in between is going to contribute to their availability and again, just their ownership of their own personal development and experience. So yeah, I think there’s building blocks that all contribute to that for sure. Are ya starts by engaging them in, in that process a lot of times.

Dan Duffield  20:04

Yeah, cool. Thanks for that.

Emma Ostermann  20:05

Absolutely. That was really great conversation and want to build off of it. Dennis, I do want to throw this question to you. But Jordan would also love to hear your thoughts. Has human performance programs been a benefit to your recruiting efforts? Dennis, I know, especially within the cook, the professional realm, whether you your stops with, you know, the avalanche, the nuggets, have the human performance programs helped you in trying to get athletes to come to those places?

Dennis Mannion  20:32

Well, yes, I mean, for sure what I would say to me, you know, you get the baseline stuff where an athlete will visit your facility and see what kind of facilities you have and what you offer. But I would say that more than anything that attracts them is the amount of clarity that you have around the programs that you provide. So like, for example, at one of the teams that were not gonna say who they broadly, they tested your brain, your body and your blood. And then they would go and after testing, analyze, and plan individually for each athlete, and that was a real draw, to get to get athletes to come. It’s funny, you know, everyone talks about culture, without clarity, there’s no culture, it’s just critical to have everything laid out for them. And I think that what the coaches, when pitching or GM, when they’re pitching, they’re talking about the energy and the optimism that are within the company, and a lot of it is driven by the clarity of all the programs that are offered. And I do think that athletes are, you know, on some business people, mostly athletes are pretty into measurement. And they want to see improvement, they like scores, they like to have the feedback on a regular basis. And I found that when we installed something like Dyna vision at one team, it was a zero because nobody, nobody explained the neuro coupling that they were trying to provide to the to the to the, to the athlete. So I would say one of the biggest attractions, besides the shiny, you know, training facility that you have, is really what kind of logic is going behind it? What kind of commitment am I going to have to make? Look, we don’t want them if they don’t want to be committed. So you know, that’s, that’s the bottom line for me.

Emma Ostermann  22:10

Absolutely. You want anything from the collegiate side? You know, I know a lot of collegiate programs do invest a lot of money to in their facilities, and how does that aid in those recruiting efforts?

Jordan Troester  22:19

Yeah, recruiting, recruiting is a huge part of collegiate athletics, we don’t always say there’s really two competitions, every season, there’s wins and losses on the field. And then it’s how your team or your coach ranks in recruiting within the conference, or whatever. And, and coaches invest everything they have into winning both of those competitions. And I don’t know, the whole recruiting space is changing, really, by the day with transfer portals and NIHL, and all those sorts of things. Historically, Oregon has been very fortunate to invest in some of the best facilities in the country and have, you know, just a really impressive environment to attract athletes. And a large part of that is around the human performance side of things and how that can help support their growth and development. So I think it plays a huge role, but at the same time, one per week, maybe Oregon was one of the first but now everybody has it what so what’s still going to differentiate you right? The facilities or the technology, or any of those things are really only as good as the people behind them. And the systems and processes. Dennis, you mentioned it the clarity with which you’re going to implement that technology to engage and impact the environment, the athlete, things like that. So while facilities and resources are a huge piece of it, there’s so much more to it. And I’m always encouraging people who may not have the facilities or resources, there’s still massive impact that you can have by generating that clarity and executing at a high level with what you do have. So

Dan Duffield  24:05

just to follow up on that maybe for both, Dennis, you and Jordan. I’m curious just how it’s evolved over time. I think athletes today are well a much more informed around human performance data, and understanding their physiology and understanding of good training principles and things like that. Obviously, the flashy facilities are a really nice draw card. But are you seeing athletes when they come in, be more inquisitive about the types of programs you’re providing? Or how you’ve been able to develop people’s power, strength, speed, those types of things, essentially asking how you’re going to make me a better athlete rather than Wow, this is a flashy gym with pools and all sorts of crazy technology as that evolves over time or athletes still kind of not oblivious, but less interested And then

Dennis Mannion  25:00

well, I take a shot at that one thing I noticed, especially with free agents, they come with their own toolbox and been successful. They come with their own toolbox of things they like to do. And you don’t try to break them of those habits, you try to expose them to, like you mentioned, better data that’s more exacting than they’ve seen before. And they start to learn that, you know, crushing themselves three days a week lifting weights is detrimental to their recovery, and detrimental to their actually their progress. So, I think we yes, you’re absolutely correct. Even a college players are showing up with oops, are our Apple Watches, fit bits, whatever. And, and they’re ready, they know what HRV is, and they know about sleep measurement. And they, you know, they’re following the Lebron James of the world into the things that they do. But until you show them the score, the score, scoreboard, essentially, of their physicality, their mentality, that’s it’s hard to break the habits.

Jordan Troester  26:00

Yeah, I would, I would say I’ve seen a pretty clear breakdown, regardless of professional sport, a collegiate sport, anything in between, there’s the people on the upper end of the spectrum who want all the information, they want to know everything, sometimes to their own detriment, because they can be paralyzed by it, but they want to pursue every last opportunity to be the best, that’s maybe the 10 or 20%, you’ve got the middle section, the 60%, who will kind of go along with what everybody else is doing, they’re happy to kind of learn about it, kind of engage with it. And they’ll do what you ask them. And then you have the 20%, who can’t even get to show up, they’re allergic to the weight room. Or they’ve got maybe in the professional level, they’ve got their own outside people that they only will go to, or they struggle to, to engage at all. And so I think the challenge is where do you invest? Where do you invest your time and resources across those populations? Do you say hey, let’s focus on that middle group and try to nudge them into a little bit more engagement and ownership? Or you really engage with that upper group? Because they’re already so interested? It’s easy to engage with them? And? And do you just get what you can out of that? That third group? It’s, that’s the biggest challenge is figuring out just the personalities, the interactions with those three different types of people? And how to get the most out of them? I think it maybe how do you screen for them in the first place of like, you know what, we want less of these third group people when we’re recruiting in the first place. I don’t know.

Dennis Mannion  27:44

I think that’s true. And I also think, too, that a lot of the lot of guys, you know, go away, you know, after the season’s over, and you have check ins and you have mini camp, you have spring training, but they get out of the habits that you created for them and think they’re creating something better, because there’s so much misinformation that’s out there. And let’s face it, they’re their elite, you know, a at a college level at a school like, like yours or protein. So it’s very hard to break them of what they think is what they have in their head. I mean, literally down to I remember one particular player we had on the Dodgers that didn’t drink water, to convince them, hey, you really do need to be hydrated. And that would help your performance. But it wasn’t easy.

Jordan Troester  28:30

Everybody comes from different backgrounds, and yeah, like you say, just different influences. And yeah, comes back to that ability to connect with them.

Emma Ostermann  28:40

Absolutely, absolutely. You guys touch on a lot of really great points. In Jordan, one of the points that you touched on was the NFL rules and the transfer portal. You know, this is relatively new, especially in the collegiate landscape and curious to hear from everyone. But Jordan, I do want to start with you is how do you think these two new things are going to affect how performance programs see their value? And what you now to be reporting back to those key stakeholders?

Jordan Troester  29:06

Well, I think essentially at least in revenue generating sports, the footballs and basketballs of the world, it’s become one year contracts with free agency more or less at the moment. Now, I don’t know that anybody wants to be in that space. But there’s lacked the guidance and regulation to result in anything other than that for the moment. So as a result, what I used to think of as collegiate, you know, athletics as a great opportunity for long term athletic development, right? You’ve got these athletes for three to five years, you can take them from point A to point B, they don’t expect to play right away. But they’re going to learn and grow, develop physically until they have the opportunity to be a contributor or even a star for your team. That’s all changed. Because if I’m not playing now means I’m not having the opportunities for sponsorship, which means I’m not making money, and I need to transfer somewhere where I am gonna play right now. Or I’m gonna go wherever I am playing, and I am a star. So I need to test the waters and see where the most lucrative opportunity is, is going to be for me. So I think it takes that whole framework of, you know, four to five years of, of development and condenses it down. I had this conversation recently, and I’m working on pulling some data, just kind of pre pandemic post pandemic, what the average lifespan or career length at a single university would have been for a football basketball player, I want to say that that average is down just barely over two years at the moment across the board, whereas historically would have been three to four. So we just see players move that much more often. Which means I think from a performance side, we have to be that much more precise in our individual or our ability to individually assess where that athlete is at, and just be more targeted in our approach in supporting their performance. Now, instead of having a large cookie cutter, one size fits all. program that you know, it’s the old adage of, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. And if I recruit 30 of the best athletes in the country as freshmen, and I put them through the most grueling training program I can possibly imagine, then two years from now, I’ll have 10 of them left who will be, you know, survival of the fittest, and they’re going to be first round draft picks, that doesn’t work anymore, you can’t afford to break any, you can’t afford to have that attrition, because the turnover is going to be so high, they won’t last they won’t stick around. They won’t contribute to your program. So that’s, that’s my current thought on it. But again, it’s changing day by day. So we’ll see. It’s, it’s,

Dennis Mannion  32:02

it’s gonna get really interesting because we’ve all heard the word profiling. And now it’s going to be like pro filing. And I think you’re in for sure the pressure is going to come on to where you’re finding what variables improve performance the most. Because I think, literally at a college level, you’re going to start to recruit certain athletes with certain metrics that you want to see, it’s going to get so much more involved. It’s been, it’s still amazing to me, when you especially at the NFL with the combine what they look at, like, who cares about bench pressing 225 pounds, 8000 times, I’m missing something. And yeah, the 40s, the 40. But you can get that just by watching their games, you know that the amount of quickness and speed they have. So I think this is going to get very, very interesting. And you made an awesome point I didn’t even contemplate is the idea that I’m in one program. And they’re not even thinking because they could get more money through an NFL going to another school, about the training that they’re getting, versus what they’re going to get. And it’s gonna be interesting to see how that levels out.

Jordan Troester  33:09

Yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s a wild world at the moment. And I think the other thing is, you mentioned the recruiting side of things. I think, again, we’re still early days, people haven’t switched their mindset into this new. This new mode, right? We’re still recruiting based off of, you know, 247 Sports rankings, right. And I’m trying to win that recruiting battle that says, hey, I’m number one in the Pac 12. And really all that comes down to is what some ranking Service said, this kid how many stars? It said this kid had. But at the end of the day, I think we’re really missing we talk about return on investment. What’s our recruiting return on investment of players who come in? What were they ranked? And what did they actually produce for your program? Whether that’s did they stick around long enough to actually play? Or did they transfer out? Did they get hurt and never materialized? Were they actually overhyped and not as good a player as you thought they were any number of those factors, I think can undermine your success long term if you’re not careful. And so yeah, we’ll see if that translates and if people capture the importance of that going forward, but there’s a lot of history to overcome in order to make change in that space.

Dan Duffield  34:23

Don’t want to question that. You mentioned that the it seems like the duration of a of an athlete’s time at a college is kind of shortening and potentially transferring. Do you see pressure coming on performance programs to develop these players quicker and get them playing quicker? So you know, increasing their performance profile from a freshman to a sophomore and so on in a quicker timeframe to get them playing so that they don’t transfer? Or do you see that’s just a case of it’s going to be more of an individual athlete going you know? Like, I liked the look of the sponsorship, I’m gonna go get playing for this university, and I’m going to leave rather than sticking around at this university, or I am playing minutes. And it looks like there’s a lot more minutes available for me if I continue to develop, do you see like the sports going, Hey, we need you to get this guy, or, you know, faster or jumping higher or was more physically equipped for the sport to keep them? Or is it more just a case of the individual guy now, it doesn’t matter, I’m just gonna go to this other college because I’m going to get more sponsorship money.

Jordan Troester  35:36

I think there’s a little bit of pressure. But there’s a lot that goes into it. It reminds me when you say that, I think one thing that we’re going to see is, I think recruits as a high school athlete, you probably need to reevaluate your process, right. So if I’m a four star recruit, I could go to the University of Oregon may not start as a freshman, but be you know, the next generation there, right, I might have to be a backup for a year, get some minutes, play some special teams, and then be able to, you know, be a star later on in my career, I can’t afford to do that anymore. If I’m smart, and I’m 18 years old, and I’m a four star recruit, I’m gonna go to a group of five University where I am the star right away, I can get the endorsement deal right away, put in a good year of film, put up some good numbers from a statistical standpoint, and then you transfer up, it almost becomes a minor league developmental system at that point where the money is going to drive where people go, and in order to make the money. Well, right now, they’re just throwing it to anybody. But at some point, in order to be able to make the money, you’re gonna have to prove that you can produce results, I think I don’t know. But the one thing as well with that is the pressure to develop athletes faster. 100% is there on the flip side, athletes are moving so much more often that there’s no continuity in their development. And I think ultimately, that hurts the athlete, they don’t realize this yet. But if you bounce around two or three different universities, there’s zero continuity in your development, you may have multiple, you know, different, completely different philosophies from a strength and conditioning standpoint, and you never actually make any progress, because you’re starting from scratch every time. So yeah, there’s a lot of factors involved. And we’ll see where it ends up.

Dennis Mannion  37:28

You’re dealing with, like, a whole new playbook on top of it. Yeah, strategically, they’re not growing. But I think one of the real issues here too, is the influence of agents with college players, where you didn’t have to deal with that before. But now, you don’t know what kind of deal that the agent themself might have with another university. So it’s advantageous for them to move somebody over that concerns me, along with the marketers that are out there, trying to figure out how to use technology to drive the value of the player to get the NIO money up. Bottom line is this, if any of these guys think they’re gonna get a Coca Cola contract, or an IBM contract, whatever Microsoft contract, they’re not going to, because there are so many pro athletes that don’t get it anyway, there aren’t big budgets to do that. But it’s going to be willy nilly small kind of deals, unless it’s just the outlier of all outliers, where you know, they’re going to be massive. But I love what you said Jordan, also about it is analogous to now to minor league baseball. And Minor League Baseball is so interesting, because when you have four different minor league teams, invariably there’s a coach that single a doesn’t like the player, and they, you know, put them up for offer up for a trade or more than that, like, mentioned, to let them go. And there are two teams right now Major League Baseball that virtually don’t Scout, even the lower leagues, now they just Scout who, who’s on the outs for the coaches at the lower minor leagues, and that’s where they pick, are they you know, trying to select so it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it is gonna be very, very interesting to see how it plays out. Well, we’ve

Jordan Troester  39:02

mentioned the human performance side of it, but Dennis, you’ve mentioned, the, the mental side, or the, the, the mind side, and I think psychological profiling, and those types of things are going to become, they have the potential to be that much more impactful. You know, with some with this changing environment, because the athletes resilience, their tolerance to or their desire to work hard to get better, all of those elements, all of a sudden become that much more important in a volatile environment. So and there are some teams who are branching into some psychological profiling and things like that. I don’t know that anyone’s really executing it at a high level, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities there.

Dennis Mannion  39:52

It’s going to grow exponentially. And I’ll leave it at this one team that I was with literally did Um, I guess it’d be neurofeedback, but they get a read on the anxiety levels, you know, just by your brain activity. And we passed Well, we didn’t pass on. But we drafted a pitcher, one team that was at straight A student had a point 90 era all through high school and was the leading pastor in the history of Dallas, high school football. And when we did all the testing on his brain, he says, anxiety levels were like through the roof. And it made it we still drafted him, but it made a big change and who we were going to let coach this particular player and we decided to have one particular coach ride with him through double A to triple A to the majors. It’s, it’s going to explode on the psychological side, I think,

Emma Ostermann  40:47

absolutely. A lot of really good points have been made. And, you know, Jordan and Denison Danna to the points you guys have made, it’s going to be interesting to see, as an IL has time as this continues to grow, what types of trends you start seeing whether an agent is going to influence some of the things, these things, whether it’s how human performance programs are gonna have to change due to Hey, like Jordan, to your point, no continuity, injuries might be on the rise, because as athletes been at three different colleges. And to that point, Dan, I’m going to kick this next question to you. How are human performance platforms like Smartabase, helping performance leaders measure and communicate return of investment?

Dan Duffield  41:25

Yeah, I think the discussion today’s kind of highlighted one of the one of the big factors in all this is there’s so many different data sets that come into quantifying return on investment. I think that is one of the biggest challenges in sport, we have huge amounts of data. And we have to consider an athlete across multiple domains, we’ve talked just recently about the psychological side, on top of just the physical measurements that we take, I think the other thing is, you know, human performance platforms, that obviously centralizing data is important, organizing it in a in a meaningful way. And then being able to represent that back to stakeholders might come commonly what we talk about when we talk about return on investment is reporting back to the athletic department or, or, you know, the people at the top who are providing the funding. And sometimes you think about, okay, as a performance program, we need to show our value to them, so that we get more funding and, you know, obviously support our own jobs. But I think today is really highlighted the importance as well of being able to communicate all of these different data points back to an athlete to show them, you know, when they engage with the school, when they when they’re enjoying what they’re doing when they’re engaging with performance program, the value that it is to them. And so yeah, I think probably the two areas I’d love to hear from you, Jordan, Dennis, and your experiences, but I feel like we have the performance program kind of sits in the middle. And data is our best weapon in terms of showing that the money that’s being pumped into the performance programs is having a positive benefit on the wins and losses, as you said, Jordan, and maybe in that recruiting space as well. But then also reporting back to the athlete and saying, Hey, if you interact with us, we’re helping you develop athletically, we’re helping you continue to enjoy playing the sport. And, and ultimately, you know, athletes care about performing better and better, you know, they want to, they want to know how what they’re doing is, is improving performance. And the only way to really do that is to put data in front of them that demonstrates that fact. So I see the human performance platforms, filling that gap of bringing that data together and representing it meaningfully to the different stakeholders, performance teams, I have to talk with

Dennis Mannion  43:55

your right on the money in a container, this that resilience code in Colorado, they’ve got a number of pro athletes that come in, and the data is what drives their motivation 99% of time, but that is interesting to like thinking about Smartabase, which is very, very, you know, sophisticated, and then look at something like whoop, that it’s, it’s a great thing for this industry, because it’s very base. It’s not it’s not even close to perfect in terms of you know, your sleep and your HRV and your resting heart rate, but it’s opened the door for the reality that the different things you do whether you’re drinking alcohol or drinking more water or sleeping better effects, some really baseline things. And I think that’s made it easier to be able to convince an athlete that you need to see the data on all these different inputs. So I think there’s a I think there’s a big opportunity, you know, as we move down the line, and the big part of it for you guys like it’s all these ridiculous, there’s a ton of variables number one, but I think More than anything in the space that you play in is so hard with all the misinformation that’s out there. And that there’s just crazy stuff that gets into athletes heads that they think that they need to do that they don’t need to. And even measurement tools that are horrible, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. But anyway, so that’s

Dan Duffield  45:18

you bring up a great point that Dennis, I think, I think, one and Jordan, you mentioned this as well, you’ve got, you’ve got certain athletes that are obsessed with the data almost to their own detriment. And it’s because we kind of, we kind of flood them with too much data. And it’s kind of contradicts, I guess, the philosophy of the performance world right now is we want more and more data. And that’s great for people who are in that space, who understand exercise physiology, really, really well, the more data helps paint the picture a little bit better. But I think that we need to be very careful when we especially communicating back to athletes, which data sets we actually communicate and how we communicate that because we can overwhelm them. And we can actually, that they might misinterpret the information that we’re providing them and train contrary to the way that we want them to train, because they don’t understand it properly. So we have this balancing act of getting by and by giving them data, but making sure that we communicated appropriately so that we’re not scaring them, but we’re also not leaving them to their own devices, and ultimately training in a way that we don’t want them to train. John, I want to I guess, I want to ask you that question. Are you? Are you feeding back a lot of this data to the athletes? And how are you balancing that? The amount of data that’s available with what you communicate to the athlete?

Jordan Troester  46:52

Yeah, I think that’s one of our biggest areas of growth. I mean, we were working on it. But there, there’s so many of them, right. And each of them interacts with information in a different way. So finding a way to connect and engage with them in, in the way that they’re prepared to, like you say some are much more prepared, and some are much less prepared. And again, across the many teams and many athletes that we have, that’s one of our biggest challenges. So having systems in place that that streamline that process as much as possible, and then really just leaning on the relationships, the people who are there to mentor them in the first place, and ensuring that our processes are bigger than that those people aren’t responsible for executing those processes on their own, but they have a foundation a framework to work off of that. That is somewhat ubiquitous across all of our sports. So just some consistency. And it kind of brings me to the other thought just about that performance program, as a whole needs to be much bigger than any of the people. And I think that’s one of the challenges as well as, especially in collegiate athletics, we have lots of silos and lots of people who are operating on their own, and may be storing all the data in some folder on their desktop, if we’re not careful, right. And when that person leaves, all of their knowledge, all of their, you know, information goes with them. And so I think when we talk about actually investing in a human performance program to administration, that’s our biggest selling point is, hey, a program is bigger than the people. It’s the processes, the clarity, the consistency, the continuity of those processes, across sports, and through time, so that people can come and go, hopefully, there’s a pipeline so that when someone new comes in, we have a vision for what we’re trying to hire and feel they can come in and pick up a process and take it from where it is to somewhere even better, as opposed to coming in and creating an entirely new process. So I think, yeah, and ultimately, that gives the athlete a better experience, because there’s just consistency and continuity throughout their career and, and enables them to better engage with that information. And hopefully, we can bring it Yeah, to that that grassroots level a little bit better. So,

Emma Ostermann  49:22

absolutely. And some of the points you guys touched on? You know, I know, we talked about the psychological profiles that could potentially be used in the future. But all this technology that you have available, whether it’s your whoop, telling you on game day, you have a 4% recovery. Now all these athletes have access to this data. They’re seeing it, how are we communicating it and to this point, it’s the people that you have in place that are able to educate and provide us to your point earlier, that clarity with all these different merit variables and metrics that are coming, coming to them on a regular basis. But such a great conversation and I do want to keep it moving and did as I’m gonna poses next question, do you first have thinking about the human performance industry as a whole? What needs to happen for performance programs to be considered a strategic investment? Dennis? Oh,

Dennis Mannion  50:10

I think for starters, we have to do a very good job of explaining and creating an awareness, the endless number of variables that are out there around health and performance and getting people comfortable with, you know, small wins. And that, you know, we’re not coming in with something that’s going to change the world in a day. This is an incremental change, and you have to have patience to stick with it. And secondly, I think you have to make it aware to the folks that are vying in that, you know, everything either progresses or regress, if you do nothing, you’re going to regress, Nothing ever stays the same. And with measurement, it gives you a chance to close that variable loop and keep it keep a continuous plan going. And then the last thing would say about that, let’s, I did make a few notes on this particular question. Because it’s so important. It’s like, you got to take on misinformation, you’ve got to build consistency with cultural integrations, like feed the values, you know, to the people that are into it. And then, I also think, you know, and I took this from the point of view of a business, but you could apply it now that Jordan mentioned, there’s 20, sports, I think it’s really important to bring various partners on that are maybe not competitive, but contributing to each other to limit the number of variables. And when Jordan spoke of like the importance of nutrition, and sleep and hydration, they’re big, big, important factors. And there are lots of different ways to look at nutrition and lots of different ways to look at sleep management, let alone hydration, whether it’s IVs, or whatever. And I think that it’s so important to get partners that are working with you that make the entire package more clarified, and eliminate more variables. And I think that would be really helped to sell the program. By the way, in the business world, we already know that insurance companies health insurance companies are looking for you did you walk today? Did you eat properly, and they give small discounts. But what it is also evolving into is a lot of places are going self insured now, because they can get really good data on the analytics surrounding the brain, the body and the blood. So sorry for the long answer. But I’m pretty excited by that. Because I think that athletic performance is believe it or not going to start to get even more driven by the civilian world, which is really getting into the use of data in their own everyday performance and how it’s helping their energy and their optimism and their work. And I think that will feed back to sports, who is always the leader in those types of things. But now you’re going to start to see it in industry.

Emma Ostermann  53:02

Absolutely. Jordan, I would love to hear your thoughts, especially within the collegiate realm, you know, when you come to a strategic investment that might be recruiting that might be whether it’s putting money into, you know, your environment, the facilities, but also people, how do you how do you see that view from your side?

Jordan Troester  53:21

Yeah, I think we’ve mentioned it a few times, it’s just clarity, being really clear about what we’re, what we’re doing here. There’s, there’s so much information, so many competing perspectives. And I’m thinking from the perspective of an athletic director here, who is trying to evaluate the value of investing more in the human performance department. And again, he’s reading sports papers and the news and everything else that comes along and having clarity about exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, ensure we’re competitive and on the leading edge of that, but also not chasing every loose thread of, you know, potential technology that’s out there. And then being really clear on what the results for that from that are. And I think a lot of times technology, historically in the sports science field has technology has, has arisen, and people have grabbed it and then tried to figure out what to do with it, instead of starting the other way around and understanding Hey, we have a question. We need to figure out this problem, what technology is going to give us information to solve that problem. So the honestly it’s just us communicating that to administration to management and then having clarity and unity across our performance team about the way that we operate. Because every time you chase one of those, you know, those little distractions more or less right and it doesn’t turn out or it ends up being a waste of money if I the number of pieces of technology that are collect Seeing dust because they were a good idea at the time. And it’s kind of cool. But it turns out like it didn’t really make a difference or we weren’t prepared to take action on that information. I think that devalues what you do. So if you want to prove value, you also have to be cognizant of what devalues what you do. And so just the clarity and processes about what problems you solve how you go about that and then the action and results that you get from it, I think is a part of that.

Emma Ostermann  55:30

Absolutely. Such a great conversation today and we are coming to an end here with our time but if listeners would like to connect with you what would be the best way Jordan?

Jordan Troester  55:43

Yeah, emails good. LinkedIn is also good Is my email and yeah, just shoot something over to me and I’ll do my best to get back to you.

Emma Ostermann  55:53

Perfect Dennis.

Dennis Mannion  55:55

Email at or LinkedIn.

Emma Ostermann  56:01

Perfect and Dan,

Dan Duffield  56:02

go i emails good for me to Dan.Duffield@Fusion or message on LinkedIn with regret.

Emma Ostermann  56:10

Absolutely. Dan, Dennis and Jordan, thank you so much for your time today. It was such a great conversation on a very important and upcoming topic. If you found this conversation valuable, please follow the Vanguard roundtable podcast on your favorite platform and share with your friends and colleagues. We’ll be back next month. Thank you. The Vanguard roundtable podcast is brought to you by fusion sport maker smartabase, the premier human performance optimization platform for elite sports and military organizations. This resource organizes hundreds of performance tech on the market today into outcome-based categories such as external load monitoring, hydration, performance tracking, musculoskeletal screening, and more. To download your free copy of the HBO tech stack, visit

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