Dan Tudor

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Is the internet making us dumb?Monday, March 27th, 2017

Neal Cook, Front Rush

The internet is a beautiful thing. But is it making us smarter?

Kabir Sehgal, author and former vice-president of J.P. Morgan doesn’t believe so, saying ‘“While the Internet gives us access to more information than before, paradoxically, we are becoming dimmer and more superficial as a people.”

One of his reasonings is that by reading articles online, which is commonly done by searching, clicking, quickly scanning, being distracted by the ads, pictures and hyperlinks, we are only retaining our “working memory,” and not our “long-term memory.” The long-term memory is where we store “schemas” that help us organize our thoughts and concepts.

So, by reading an article online, our mind doesn’t take in the full meaning and point of the article. Therefore, it doesn’t connect the information learned to our previous memories/thoughts. You could argue that reading online is a waste of time.

Reading a book on the other hand, since you are focused and not as stimulated, can lead to retaining longer-term memory.

From first-hand experience, this is true. I read an average of 15 articles a week, but, when a week later I try to recall the purpose or argument of an article to a friend, I’m at a loss for words as to the actual point of the article.

A typical article I read online follows this timeline:

Hmm..this article sounds fascinating…let me click on it and read it

Starts reading for 10 seconds

Eyes focus on the banner ad on the top of the page

Continue reading

See a reference link in the article, click on that link, skim it, click back to the original article

Continue reading

My iMessage sound goes off, even if I don’t want to read it, my mind is already distracted

I don’t check my iMessage, but continue reading

My New Mail sound goes off, again, I don’t read it, but I’m distracted

Resume reading

Finish the article

Reflect on what I read for about 3 seconds

Then check my iMessage and Mail and move on to the next “thing” in my life

No wonder I can’t recall the fundamental point behind that article to my friend. I vaguely remember the summary of the reading.

But when I read a book, I’m immersed in that book. It has 100% of my attention and focus. It sticks with me, and I can recall quickly what the book was trying to convey.

So, how can you and I become smarter when reading articles online?

I came up with these three tips. I’d love to hear if you have any tips or how you deal with reading online.

  1. Only read articles during a particular time of the day

Next week I’ll share with you the app I use to save all my articles to read at a later date in a clean, ad-less format. But for starters, when you see something interesting online DON’T READ IT RIGHT AWAY. Don’t click on it, however tempting it may be. Instead, only commit to reading articles online during a certain period of the day (i.e., an hour after breakfast, a half hour during lunch, after dinner). By doing so, your brain is not skimming and forgetting what you are reading multiple times a day.

  1. Turn off wifi when reading an article online

Once your article fully loads, turn off your wifi or put your computer/phone on “airplane mode.” You’ll still be able to read the entire article, but you won’t be distracted by text messages, annoying sounds, notifications, and even if you are tempted to click on another link/picture, it won’t work when you do so.

  1. For every article you read – reflect for 60 seconds

There are so, so many articles/studies that show the immense benefits of reflecting multiple times a day. After you finish an article, think about that article. Ask questions. Do you agree with the author? Did you learn something new? Does this change your beliefs? Are you more interested in this subject? Was it worth your time? Do you feel smarter after reading? Or dumber?

Think about it. Remember it. And it will stick in your long-term memory so you can recall that information when it’s needed (or when you get the chance to play Jeopardy).

Next week I’ll share with your the app I use to store articles I want to read.

If this article made your dumber, I apologize!!!

Warning: This Article Contains Cat VideosMonday, March 20th, 2017

IMG_2590 (1)Josh DiCristo, Front Rush

I was supposed to have this post finished, yesterday. Then I got busy and this happened and then that happened and then I had free time but then YouTube happened. Then I thought that it would be done this morning. Now, as I write this, it’s about 2 in the afternoon. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and Oscar Wilde once wrote, “I never put off ‘til tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after”. Both John Lennon and Oscar Wilde dealt with setbacks and both dealt with a common weakness that affects all of us at one point or another – procrastination. But Lennon and Wilde had one more thing in common – their birthday. No, I’m just kidding, but how crazy would that be? Neither of them existed in the age of the internet.

The internet is undeniably an incredible tool that has reshaped the world and provided us access to information and connectivity that previous generations could only dream of. It’s streamlined the entire recruitment process, reduced all of the various papers and schedules coaches would normally have to manage, and with the utilization of algorithms, recruits can find you and vice versa at near-ridiculous speeds.

But also, cat videos. And man, are cat videos great.

So with YouTube and BuzzFeed and Netflix and email, how do you stay focused?  An easy answer is to stay off the internet but let’s say, for sake of argument, that your job requires you to be online for the purposes of college recruiting. As we pointed out earlier – the internet sure has it’s upsides in that realm. So how do you stay focused in your day-to-day?

First and foremost, the easiest thing to do is to remove notifications from sites like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. Though it might be important to check those sites throughout the day for your work, do you get a notification every time something new pops up at your job? Maybe sometimes, but odds are not all the time. So why should you be notified anytime someone follows you or tags you in a new post? If those websites go on the rotation of every other work-related website that you check, you’ll find yourself going back to it less and less throughout the day.

Certain browsers also have free apps that can help you manage your time better online. One such app (or “extension” as apps are known in Google Chrome), is StayFocusd. StayFocusd is available on multiple browsers and allows you to block certain time-draining websites on your computer for certain periods of time throughout the day. There are tons of apps out there that do this – a quick google search and you can find the right one that fits you!

However, the main problem with these apps is that they work great for the first few days but after a week or so you might find yourself logging into the settings to remove websites you had previously blocked. Most of these apps don’t allow you to remove websites off your blocked list for a few hours (for obvious reasons) but where there’s a will there’s a way and people will always find ways around it. If you want to take the “nuclear” option you can remove the website from any browser on your computer entirely. Have someone add the website to your host file in a specific way and it’ll be gone until they remove it from the list themselves.

If blocking websites isn’t your thing, you can set frequent Google Calendar reminders or iCal reminders on days that you know you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of a computer. At the very least, even if you ignore them, you have to close out of each notification that appears on your desktop. In your brain, it causes you to take a neurological break from whatever you’re doing (gotta love those cat videos) which might just be enough to snap you back into productivity.

Another option is to turn on airplane mode when you’re working. This won’t work in all cases because sometimes you absolutely need the internet. But in some cases, the app you’re working with might just have the ability to sync data “when connected”. So stay on your desktop or device as long as you need, without an internet connection. The internet is only two clicks away and if you’re only connecting to save your data, you’re getting all of the benefits of working online without the distractions.

So there are lots of ways to stay focused, even when your job requires you to be on your computer or on the internet. The paradox is to learn about them, you have to take a trip to Google which will frequently leave you with the answer, but not before giving you a parting gift of more distraction. So here’s a few tips courtesy of us, and with minimal cat video interruption.

P.S. It turns out that John Lennon and Oscar Wilde’s birthdays and date of death were both within eight days of each other. Who knew? You can thank the internet for that one, too.

When To Make Fields Required On Your Recruiting QuestionnaireMonday, March 6th, 2017

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

As a coach, you have many ways of acquiring and storing data from your recruits.

One of the more popular, and effective ways of obtaining a recruit’s information is via a questionnaire that is placed on your athletic website. Once the recruit fills out that questionnaire, they are automatically stored in the proper database so you have access to this information and can start recruiting the athlete.

If you go to your school’s athletic website, click on your sport, and find your recruiting questionnaire, this submitted form is winding up in one of two places:

  1. Your Recruiting Database for the sports software you use (i.e Front Rush)
  2. Your Admissions Database, which your admissions department uses to facilitate the recruits info to you

Now to the form itself. Let’s take it back a few years, before computers, when you had to fill out a paper form with a pen or pencil (as a 28-year-old, I do have a faint memory of such times).

With a paper form, it’s possible that a form-filler (your recruit) could turn the form into you without filling out all of the fields. Since there’s no way of forcing a recruit to fill out every single field, unless you know some magic I’m unaware of, it’s possible the recruit could leave some important fields empty. There was, however, an unspoken understanding that if a question was asked, you’d be best to fill it in.

Then came along the internet which allowed form-fillers (your recruits) to fill out forms digitally instead of manually.

With digital forms, you have the ability to make certain fields required/mandatory, so when the user clicks ‘submit’ they would be unable to proceed unless the required fields are filled in.

You’ve seen these required fields (usually marked with red * symbol) when you sign up for a website or place an order online. It makes sense. If you are ordering a new pair of shoes from Zappos, you should be required to enter your shipping details and payment information before the order goes through.

The same rules apply for your athletic recruiting questionnaire. As a coach, and a Front Rush user (OK, maybe you use one of our competitors, but we still love you), you have full control of the required fields on your questionnaire.

By default, Front Rush only requires First Name and Last Name on your form. Meaning, a recruit could technically only put in their First and Last Name and press ‘submit’ and the form would go through to you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 5.18.09 PM

Recruits, and humans, in general, are pretty savvy and they realize that just giving you their name would be pointless. You can’t do anything with just their name. Add the fact that recruits are trying to get YOU to contact them, and this results in recruits giving you plenty of data points that will help you research them and contact them (name, email, address, grad year, high school, position, gpa, video links, etc.).

Still, as a coach, you can take measures to ensure that you have the minimum info on a recruit so that you, or your admissions office, can contact them.

All you need to do is contact our Front Rush support team and let us know which fields you’d like to make mandatory for your recruit questionnaire, and we can make those fields required.

If you are a Front Rush school that uses our Admissions package to pass recruits automatically back and forth between Admissions, you’ll notice there are certain required fields on your recruit questionnaire. The fields that are typically required are: First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Home Address 1, City, State, Zip and Graduation Year.

Admissions offices need these fields in order for them to start recruiting your recruits academically and pass their enrollment info back into Front Rush.

Even if you are not using our Admissions package, you can still make those fields mandatory on your questionnaire so that you send emails out of Front Rush, create mailings labels via an Export, etc.

Besides contact information fields. You can make your academic fields mandatory (high school name, GPA, SAT scores) or athletic fields (position, club team name, club coaches name, video link).

However, there is research that shows that form-fillers may be more inclined to ONLY fill out the required fields on your form, omitting the optional fields that are also important, but not required.

My recommendation would be to make sure the recruits necessary contact info (name, email, address, cell phone number) are required, along with some academic and athletic info (grad year, high school, position, club team name), that is important to you. If your school takes academics very highly in applications, you may want to think of requiring more academic info. Likewise, if you are very select in the recruits you contact, you may wish to make more athletic fields required.

Identity Change – Love it or Hate itMonday, February 27th, 2017

nicole1Nicole Sohanic, Front Rush

A college athletic identity is a special thing. When I say athletic identity I am referring to the sport’s logo, colors, fonts, and even their mascot. Change in design, of identities in particular, causes a lot of discomfort! Even if overall it is a change for the better it isn’t what people have grown to love or associate with their beloved team.

Pros

Fresh, clean, and simple can be so refreshing to a dated logo. Does that logo look clunky? Is it hard to read or does it look bad on mobile devices? This does not give a good impression to the fans, new recruits coming to visit the school, or to outsiders looking in. It can be the simplest little thing in a logo that creates a turn-off. Maybe it is off balance, two letters are just too close together, or the colors just don’t ring true to what they used to mean. Good design is something you look upon and don’t really question when it surrounds you. There are subconscious influences in your choices all the time for the products and brands you surround yourself with. a half could flow over into a recruit’s mind for the choice of the very school they decide to attend! Did your athletic program revamp its way of operating? Did you just have an incredible season and now the eyes are all on you? Is the competition increasing more and you need that extra edge? These are just some of the reasons why a college athletic program may choose to change their athletic identity.

Cons

With every significant identity change of something we interact with everyday, there will be push back. The roll-out of the new logo for your college athletic team may receive criticism. People simply do not like change. Will the current athletes and fans miss that old logo and hold onto their rally flags and jerseys? Some will. Will some question the decision why it was ever changed in the first place? Indeed! For someone who has only ever supported one look and feel of the team, this is understandable. For the players who fought their hearts out for their school, this is part of the core and pride of their team. The important thing is to recognize is that this as a natural reaction to change and should not be misinterpreted as a mistake.

Ultimately what heals all identity changing wounds is time. Remember when Google changed their beloved identity in 2015? There was intense push back on social media and many articles written deeply analyzing the foundation of the logo change. Among all the hate there were some that did see it as a nice refresh from what it once was. It is 2017, and we haven’t heard a peep about that logo change in over a year and half. The hate quickly died and turned into a comfort. Changes were applied everywhere! All of their phone applications got a refreshing overhaul and we still religiously use them as we once did. Our love for Google didn’t change, we were just forced out of our comfort zone and needed time to heal. Google is now dressed for the times and ready for future users to embrace its new look and feel.

Recruits are coming and may not even hold the same loyalty to the college athletic identity as past athletes or supporters. They may have just heard about your program for the very first time! The future of your college athletic program may call for a revamp of your identity. When approaching an identity shift, colleges should take their time, be considerate about feedback, deeply consider color palettes, and choose a professional designer who will take all that into account. The existing identity of the college is what has brought it to this point. The new identity is what will propel it into the future.

iPhone vs AndroidMonday, February 20th, 2017

cip_pic_360Chelsea Cipriani, Front Rush

It could be a question on a dating site – that’s how important the answer is to some.  Are Android users compatible with iPhone users?  What does it all mean??  Joking aside, the differences in devices and the debates probably come up in discussion for each of us about once a week…maybe even more often between your coworkers, your friends, and your family.  

It is also important among recruits.  While I was on campus last month a coach mentioned to me that his recruits (the iPhone users) did not like interacting through text with Android users because texts come through as green and not blue.  He was referring to iMessage.  iMessage works with iPhone and can operate while on wifi… it also shows up as blue on the iPhone.  An iPhone user can actually know if you are using an Android vs. and iPhone and to some it is significant.  Also, did you know some emojis are not compatible from iPhone to Android / Android to iPhone?  While small, these details matter a LOT to the younger generation.  

For some of us, the thought of using a brand / device other than the one we are familiar with can seem almost foreign.  I know as a very dedicated Apple user, when my grandmother (an Android user) comes to me for advice, I end up doing lots of googling to help her out with the functionality.  I had to google something as simple as turning on the flashlight.  I have even resulted to opening up the user manual… yes they still exist!  To me, Androids are super confusing and I just can not seem to grasp it.  The same thing rings true I’m sure for some Android and PC users when operating an Apple product… familiarity is key.

This got me thinking, I wanted to poll the Front Rush staff to see what they prefer in terms of Apple vs. Android, Mac vs. PC and to hear more in depth reasons behind why they choose that brand or device.  Whether it is out of necessity or preference, I was definitely interested in learning more.  So I did, and I have shared the findings with you below.  While not everyone on staff participated, this is a good representation of the group.  This is in no way meant to sway you one way or the other, but to give you some insight into what is more commonly used by our Front Rush staff… and why.

What Mobile Device do you use?

what mobile device do you use (1)

iPhone: 64.28%

Android: 35.71%

What iPhone users had to say:

  1. “Because it’s the simplest and most convenient phone to use.  Everyone else used an iPhone, so, naturally I had to get one too.”
  2. “iMessage and very easy to use.”
  3. “I use more apple products than others so it just makes more sense for me to have devices that can communicate with one another more seamlessly. I also tend to prefer the design ascetics of apple products.”

What Android users had to say:

  1. “I used to be a dedicated iPhone user, but I switched about four years ago. I will never go back. iPhones had the following limitations that really limited me: – No memory expansion (my Android phone has a microSD card for a lot more storage w/out a huge sticker price) – Short battery life (my Android phone lasts longer, and I can swap my battery) – More choices (going Android opens my options up to a lot more choices in phones)”
  2. “Open ecosystem, more free apps on play store, the voice assistant understands accents of non native english speakers, “Google now” which works better with Android”
  3. “Easy to use. Very customizable. EASY to customize. Nice design. Not many issues (Loved my Galaxy S4.. currently use Galaxy S5) Many free apps.”

What Type of Computer do you use for work?

computer for work (2)

 

Mac: 71.43%

PC: 28.57%

Top reasons for choosing Mac:

  1. “It works much nicer with my design software, it has an excellent battery life, and the overall life of the device is simply better than a lot of PC products.”
  2. “I am a developer/Engineer and requires to be on a unix based system, so that rules out Windows. Out the choices I have, mac is most usable machine and It is easy on eyes too.”
  3. “Macs were once known to be better for design and graphic work /// since then the bridge between the two has shortened but I have come to learn that Macs are just more reliable and have less problems in their life span /// also a lot easier to use interface”

Top reasons for choosing PC:

  1. “Have always used PCs.. familiarity.. not many issues.. customizable.. can just go on Amazon and buy another battery if I need to. Love my HP Probook.”
  2. “PC > Mac I need the programs a PC has versus what a Mac has”
  3. “Because my needs as a finance manager do not justify a Mac.”

What type of computer do you use for leisure?

leisure (3)

Mac: 71.43%

PC: 28.57%

Mac users said:

  1. “Fast and great for video editing”
  2. “It is pretty. UI/UX is better than windows. Does not crash often, not infected by malware/virus that often.”
  3. “I do a lot of photo development in Lightroom, and the interface is better.”

PC users said:

  1. “Gaming”
  2. “Cheaper”
  3. “Have always used PCs”

When asked, “What do you feel your device / service provides over the other (example – why apple vs. non apple) specific apps / features / etc

Mac users tend to be attracted to the reliability, speed, and seamless transfer between devices.  The PC users mention that they are cost friendly, they appreciate the ability to customize, and enjoy gaming on their PCs which is not always compatible with Mac.

The next question asked was, “ Are you strictly one brand?”  

The answers were mostly no, but for those who were a yes, here are a few examples:

“Only Apple products for personal use and only PC for work.”

“Yes, but it’s because they have not let me down.” – Apple

“Yep, 98% apple I’d say.” – Apple

Most of the responses looked something like this:

“I am not strictly loyal to a brand but more cost value and features provided.”

Or, “Nope. “Horses for courses”.ie, whatever works for my specific use case.”

For fun, I asked around for other devices that our awesome staff members use whether working or relaxing.  

Below are the devices and some links to learn more about them!

Fitbit – “Fitbit motivates you to reach your health and fitness goals by tracking your activity,  exercise, sleep, weight and more.”

Tile – “Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-use app that helps you find everyday items in    seconds.”

Kindle – “Kindle E-readers designed as dedicated eBook readers. Indulge your love of reading without interruptions like email alerts and push notifications. They can hold thousands of books to keep you entertained for hours.”

Amazon Fire Stick – “Fire TV Stick connects to your TV’s HDMI port. It’s an easy way to enjoy over 4,000 channels, apps, and games including access to over 250,000 TV episodes and movies on Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO NOW, Hulu, and more.”

Chromecast – “Simply use your mobile device and the TV you already own to stream your favorite TV shows, movies, music, sports, games and more. Chromecast works with iPhone®, iPad®, Android phone and tablet, Mac® and Windows® laptop, and Chromebook.”

PS4 – gaming console

Xbox One – gaming console

Garmin Vivofit 3 – “No need to switch out your watch or start a new activity, vívofit 3 recognizes when your movement changes so you can go from a walk to a run in no time.”

iPad

Amazon Echo – “Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice.”

Apple Watch – “The new Apple Watch is the ultimate device for your healthy life.”

Samsung Smart TV – “Stream TV, movies, games, apps, social media and more. Find what you want fast with with your favorites panel. Learn more about the Samsung Smart TV.”

Moral of the story, whichever device you choose is going to have its pros and cons.  I would suggest polling your team and learning which devices they use or prefer and why.  The athletes are the best resource into the trends of the recruits when it comes to current technology / Apps/ Emojis / etc.  It may also pay to invest in one of the cool devices or products listed above for your locker room or team room.  A 100-300 dollar investment may make that lasting impression on that recruit who comes to campus and who knows, it could be the piece that seals the deal!
Whatever device or system you prefer, I hope this has given you another perspective into the common debate of “iPhone vs. Android” and encourages you to check in with your team and recruits allowing you to be more connected with them through technology.

Ball Don’t LieMonday, January 30th, 2017

bill_headshot_dantudorBill Lynch, Front Rush

As athletes, we rely on instinctual decision making – our ability to make split-second judgments.  Should I pull up on a fast break or drive to the basket? Should I swing at this pitch? Where do I think this fly ball is going to land?

We’ve trained and sharpened these skills our whole lives, and have been rewarded for it.  Unfortunately, this type of reasoning can also lead us astray.  If we make all of our decisions based on our gut feelings or rules of thumb, we can fall victim to many cognitive biases.

Now I’m not telling you never to trust your gut, because most of our judgments and actions are sound most of the time, as is the confidence we place in our gut.

But not every single time.  We like to think that we’re rational beings, but we often exhibit these cognitive biases that prove otherwise.

This post will attempt to identify and explain how those cognitive biases affect recruiting and coaching experiences, with the aim being a more developed understanding of yourself, your staff, and your competitors.  Let’s get started.

Confirmation Bias

Definition: The tendency to seek out information that reaffirms our own belief.

Example:

Think about the stud athletes who exhibit coachability problems.  He or she argues with teammates on the field, displays a lack of interest when the coach speaks and stands at the back of the huddle.   These all should be cues to take a deeper evaluation, but the minute you hear from someone that the athlete’s coachability isn’t as big of a deal as it seems and that his athletic ability outweighs it, you’re satisfied.  Because that is what you want to hear.

Example:

The coach that sticks to his playbook and always punts on 4th down instead of considering data showing that choice to be sub-optimal at times.

While it may help us feel more secure and better about ourselves, it doesn’t always lead to the best decisions.

Optimism Bias

Definition: The tendency to believe that you are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

Example:

To continue with the example used in the confirmation bias, think about a time a ‘project’ didn’t pan out.  Otherwise known as a bust.  It happens all of the time, a player might be raw and needs to develop, or they fit the build of an exceptional athlete but just aren’t there yet.  By overestimating the benefits of recruiting that player and underestimating the costs, you may miss other recruiting or player development opportunities that provide a less risky alternative.

Selective Perception

Definition: The tendency not to notice and more quickly forget things that contradict our prior beliefs.

Example:

When a coach or fan base complains that the referees only called fouls on their team or penalties against them.

Bandwagon Effect

Definition: The phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs or ideas increases the more that they have already been adopted by others.  

Example:

Think about a time when you went to a recruiting event and ended up looking at some players solely because everyone else was.  The player may be good, but you’re jumping because everyone else is, without evaluating the kid outside of the hype.  It can be especially costly when that time spent pulls you away from the athletes you came to the event to scout, backed by information prepared beforehand, aka the real purpose you’re there.

The same thing can be said about product fads.  Through the bandwagon effect, you may buy a product you see somewhere that advertises like “Priced at just $$$, our product comes with x,y,z bells and whistles, guaranteed to change the way you do live!”  Then a few months later you realize that while it’s cool and your friends bought into it, nothing has changed.

Framing Effect

Definition: Drawing conclusions from the same information based on how it’s presented.

Example:

This happens a lot in email correspondences and wherever words can be twisted. Take, for instance, a recruit that tells you he’s the captain of his team and helped improve their winning percentage by 20%!  That sounds wonderful right? Now, what if they said something like “We had a better record this year, improving to 6 wins from last year’s 5.”  Doesn’t have the same effect. So remember to look closely at the information and try to peel back layers to find the real meaning.

Sunk Cost

Definition: A cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.

Example:

In sports this can when you have a highly touted recruit that is turning into a bust. Just continuously batting .200, making mistakes they shouldn’t be making, the whole deal.  But you’ve invested so much into them, that you can’t let it go.  Rather than considering the future costs and benefits of allowing someone else to flourish in place of this person, we often just look at the resources already invested.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

Definition: The tendency to mistakenly assess your ability as higher than it is.

Example:

Confucius said, “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

This effect happens across the board where self-assessment is asked.  You’ll see a general overconfidence, whether it’s in how a recruit ranks themselves at a sport or how a coach ranks themselves at their job.  The moral of the story is to shy away from self-reporting assessments or to go about them with the right mindset and rely on them appropriately.

Curse of Knowledge:

Definition: The tendency to assume the people you are communicating with have the same background as you.

Example:

Whenever you are in a teaching position, it is imperative to be able to communicate information at the level of those you are teaching.  It’s like trying to teach a 3rd grader Shakespeare or trying to whiteboard a complicated scheme in your playbook to a freshman player that hasn’t seen it before.  You’ll get the deer in the headlights look, a disconnection from the lecture entirely.

Clustering Illusion

Definition: The tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable “streaks” arising in small samples to be non-random.

Example:

There was a famous study done which looked at the shooting percentage of the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1980-1981 season.  Specifically, they noted if the shot was made or not and then noted if the shot right after it was made or not.  They found that “a player’s performance on a given shot is independent of his performance on previous shots.”  I’m not saying streaks don’t happen, or that you shouldn’t give it to the guy with the hot hand. Rather that in a string of shots over the course of the season streaks will happen.

Outcome Bias

Definition: The error to judge a past decision by its ultimate outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made, given what was known at that time.

Example:

“Ball don’t lie.” NBA player Rasheed Wallace used to say these words after a foul shot was made or missed.  If the referee called a foul on Rasheed which he thought wasn’t a foul, and then the player at the foul line missed his shot, Rasheed would say “Ball don’t lie,” meaning the foul call was wrong because the outcome of the shot was a miss.  He would similarly use it when an arguable call sent him to the line and he made the shot.  “Ball don’t lie,” in this case, meant that the right call was made since the outcome was a made free throw.

As you can see, cognitive biases are pretty common, and they influence decisions and strategies sometimes without even realizing it.  In sports, they can make or break games and seasons.   So when it comes time to make decisions or have an informed discussion, be mindful of these cognitive biases.  Better yet, combine it with hard data and you’ll be golden.

 

Mini Talking RobotsFriday, January 20th, 2017

unnamedKen Whittaker, Front Rush

Each week we try to teach you something new or enlighten you about the latest technology. My colleagues and I have written about smart gadgets, wearable technology, and even emojis over the past few months. With all this wearable, on-the-go technology, downloads, apps, and other virtual products taking over your time, it’s sometimes nice to hear about how technology can be used to make your life easier. As you may have seen on TV during the holiday season, Amazon Echo and Google Home are the two dominating voice controlled tech products intended to basically sit in once place and do a lot of stuff. These mini know-it-all robots (they aren’t really robots, it’s just cooler to call them that) have tons of capability, and could finally be the bridge many of us have hoped for (or feared) all our lives. How cool would it be to turn on the lights with your voice or even change the channel when you ask? To some, this might seem lazy. To others, it’s the future.

 

Ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To back up a little bit, the Amazon Echo and Google Home are two very popular standalone devices that respond to your command and give you feedback, information, and tons of other responses. I have had the ability to use both, and have found each to be quite impressive. Setup on each is relatively simple. Basically, you take the device out of the box, plug it in, download the companion app on your phone, and it’s set up in minutes. Before you know it, you’ll have a talking robot in your house, waiting for you to put it to work.

 

“Excuse me? There’s a mini robot listening to me in my house?” you might be thinking. Well, not exactly. Both devices are activated with a “wake word” which lets the device know you’re talking to it. Amazon has cleverly named their device “Alexa” while Google is activated by saying “Ok, Google” or “Hey, Google” before it starts to listen to you. The Echo allows for some variability in wake word, such as calling it “Amazon” or other select options. From experience, it’s pretty simple to get used to activating the device. I’m sure that some of you are still a little freaked out. Basically, once you activate either device with the wake word, it will light up and start listening to your request. These devices do not always listen to your conversations (they have better things to do) – so there aren’t really any privacy concerns. The computational power to listen and process everything you say would be cumbersome and useless, quite frankly.

 

Great. But what’s the point of having a mini robot with selective hearing? From streaming music, checking sports scores, new headlines, weather updates, and controlling your lighting – the possibilities are endless. Amazon was the first major player into this space, releasing the Echo device first. The Google Home was just released a few months ago – and now the race is on. As with most technology, there are things that one device can do that the other cannot. For example, the Echo allows you to purchase things from Amazon and has exclusive deals for Prime members, while Google Home has the powerful backend of the Google search engine behind it. In my experience, asking the Echo facts was hit or miss, generally. The Google Home is better with satisfying the answer to the random curious thought that may be running through your mind. On the contrary, Amazon’s established history in the space has allowed it to partner with multiple third parties already, particularly with home automation, to bring “Alexa” to many more devices, as of now. Some speculate that Google will be able to catch up soon, but all we can do is wait and see.
Competition in this area in technology is bound to be a good thing. For one, users will want each device to be capable of doing things the other is able to do – and both Amazon and Google will be motivated to provide customers with an excellent experience. If you’re curious, I suggest you look into the devices. If you tend to be in the Amazon eco-system – you might find more benefit from the Echo devices (original Amazon Echo is about $180 and the smaller version Echo Dot is about $50). If you want to see where Google takes the product and find searching to be more beneficial, you might want to check out the Google Home (priced around $130 currently). For me, both devices are great and offer a ton of functionality. As a self proclaimed geek, setting up wall outlets that respond to “turn on the light” after calling the wake word is awesome. The future possibilities are seemingly endless.

The Fitbit EvolutionMonday, January 16th, 2017

mike vizzoniMike Vizzoni, Front Rush

A little while back my co-worker Chris wrote an article on this blog taking a look at all of the wearable technology we have available these days (link here). It is rather incredible to reflect on how many different options we have as athletes and consumers. From GPS tracking to heart rate monitors to messaging to entertainment, the possible fields that wearable tech can cover seems endless. When wearable tech first started rolling out I was a little skeptical. To me, it did not seem practical to constantly have something attached to you during training or simply everyday activities. Man oh, man was I wrong. Wearable tech has exploded in recent years, and this trend does not seem to be slowing down. As mentioned earlier, my co-worker Chris has already covered several wearable technologies. Here, however, I will be diving into a product that deserves much credit for this wearable uprising. Fitbit is one of the first fitness wearable technologies, and their story deserves to be told.

History

Fitbit, like most other tech start-up companies, is based out of San Francisco, California. The company was founded back on May 1, 2007, by James Park and Eric Friedman. In the mid 2000’s Eric and James began to notice how good sensors and wireless technology were progressing. The tech was reaching a point where the data retrieved by them could be exploited in countless ways. Eric and James realized that they could bring this technology to fitness and change the way people evaluated their movement. They decided to design a product that could seamlessly fit into someone’s life to help improve their health and fitness goals. The Fitbit was born. The first version of this product was released in 2009. This version could be attached to your shirt or pants and monitored very basic activity movement. They sold around 25,000 units. Once 2011 came around Fitbit released a new version that now included an altimeter, digital clock, and stopwatch. To continue the progress Fitbit went ahead and released two more models in 2012. The consistency of model upgrades is what separated Fitbit apart from many other wearable tech products and really kept them ahead of the curve. By the time 2013 hit, Fitbit released their first wristband model. The wristband model is what most people think of when they picture a Fitbit. This seemed to be the most appealing to users and is why Fitbit has further pursued that type of model. In 2015 Fitbit announced its IPO as $4.1 billion! They were the number one wearable tech product and had sold over 18 million units in one year. Last year Fitbit put out four new models; the Blaze, Alta, Charge 2 and the Flex 2. They continue to stay on top of the wearable market outperforming other industry leaders such as Apple, Xiaomi, and Garmin.

Today

Currently, Fitbit is still producing new models and continues to wow its customers with new features. The latest Fitbit supports features such as Bluetooth connection to smartphones, step and distance tracking, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep patterns. Some of the most recent models also support text messaging and phone calls. All of this data is accessible through the Fitbit app. Simply sign up, log in, and take a look at the calories you burn per day or perhaps how many steps you have taken. What you then do with that data is entirely up to you. The possibilities are endless. This allows users to improve their daily activity and live a healthier life one step at a time. The great thing about Fitbit is that it has utilities that can be very useful for the elite athlete and everyday person alike.

Coaches, ask around to see if your players own Fitbits or any other type of wearable tech. Challenge them to improve their fitness being tracked each day and perhaps look into getting one for yourself. We live in a data-driven society and products such as Fitbit can only help improve your active life by taking advantage of that data.

Why I hate my smartphoneMonday, January 9th, 2017

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

A new year, a new resolution that won’t stick, but maybe it will work for you:

Taking a break from my smartphone.

Have you pondered how your day would function without that little, 4.7-inch screen in your pocket? The one that you feel buzzing, even when it’s not, but you hear that buzz in the back of your mind?  Remember those carefree days when you didn’t have the convenience of having your world in your pocket? I do. More and more each day.

If all smartphones were removed mysteriously from the planet, at the strike of midnight, tonight, what would we lose? Convenience. No longer would you be able to: call your taxi, order your dinner, look up movie times, check your fantasy sports teams, find the score of the game, keep connected with your work colleagues, listen to music, use your GPS, check Instagram because you’re bored, Facebook, Snapchat, make impulse purchases (with money you don’t have), check in with your family, find a date, watch movies, play games, bank, recruit. I could go on. But that’s already a run-on sentence.

The thing is, you would still be able to accomplish all of the conveniences and jobs we hire a smartphone to provide us. Other products and methods of technology, would fill the smartphone less void, at the cost of convenience.

Each of us uses our smartphone in unique ways. Some may not be addicted as others, or have better self-control, but, for some, putting your phone down can be quite a challenge. Next time you go into a restaurant, do a quick James Bond scan and count the number of faces staring down at their phone.

Convenience, like everything in this world, needs to be balanced. Yin and yang. Take away smartphones entirely, and the average person would gain 90 minutes a day, or 23 days a year. That time can go towards a lot of things. Think of everything you’ve wanted to accomplish, and explore since you were a small lad/gal. Personally, I’m trying to learn the bass, read more, and become the greatest Beatles cover band of all time (with a little help from my friends).

So will everyone slow down their phone usage in 2017? One-hundred percent, no. Unless that smartphone Angel snatches all of our phones at midnight, tonight.

In reality, smartphone usage will continue to ramp up in 2017 and for the foreseeable future. By 2020, smartphone internet traffic will pass PC internet traffic for the first time. Also, toss in the fact that more developed and developing countries are still just getting access to the web for the first time (approx 43% of the world population has access now), and the projections for connected phones and people will only skyrocket.

No one is going to control your phone usage (it’s not 1984, yet). So it’s up to you and me to monitor our usage and keep ourselves in check. For technology and convenience need to be balanced with the important things in life (the love that we create.)

You need to use this google maps hackMonday, December 26th, 2016

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

Hey Coaches!

Hope your Holiday weekend was splendid!

As much as I would have loved to slide down each and every one of your chimneys, like Scott Calvin, from Santa Claus, I am physically unable to do so (side note…Neal from Santa Claus is a huge prick).

What I can give to you is my top-secret Google Maps hack. This have been tested on the iPhone 7, but should work on Android devices as well.

Without further ado!

Your Places

Follow these steps to save you time in the long run:

  1. Open Google Maps
  2. Click on the 3 horizontal bars to the left of the ‘Search Google Maps’ search bar
  3. Click ‘Your Places’
  4. If you haven’t done so before, click ‘enter an address’ next to the Home and Work icons. Plug in your addresses.
  5. Click the back arrow to get back to the search bar
  6. Enter in an address that you use GPS for frequently (gym, grocery store, mall, etc). You can also enter in family/friends addresses (aunts, girlfriends, grandparents, etc)
  7. Click on the address
  8. Click on the ‘Label’ icon in the center-bottom of the page
  9. Name this address (moms, dads, gym, etc)
  10. Click ‘Done’
  11. Repeat this for all of your frequent searches

googlemaps1googlemaps2

What you just did was associate your favorite people/places with their physical address.

So instead of typing in “2240 Mercerville-Whitehorse Road, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619” to find your Grandma’s nursing home every time you pull up your Google Maps, you can just type “Grandma” to be directed to her location. That is, unless she has ran away on her wheelchair (which my Grandma frequently hints at).

This is a great time-saving hack, and has saved me from repeatedly asking my close acquaintances for their address over and over again.

Hope this helps a tiny bit!

 

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