Training Has Gone Virtual: A Conversation with Famer and MaxOne
By Jamie Hancock
April 8, 2020
One of the many lessons that the COVID-19 crisis has taught us is that virtual training will be essential to the future of youth and organized sports. There are countless ways to launch these programs on your own, from sending a weekly email with drills to posting videos on your club’s social channels—but if you really want to scale your online offering, you’ll want to look into platforms like MaxOne and Famer.
Both companies make it easy to connect players and coaches and create community when we’re unable to be together on the court or field. They’re playing a huge part in making sports happen while we’re forced to stay at home—so we sat down with their CEOs for a discussion about bringing training online, and what the future holds.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
LeagueApps: Tell us a bit about your organizations.
Famer: Famer is a mobile platform for virtual coaching and mentorship. We work with clubs to enable team and personal training programs through short-form video content—helping kids improve and giving coaches another source of income. The result is a better, more connected program that stands for player development.
MaxOne: MaxOne is virtual coaching for every athlete of every sport. Our platform allows coaches to build customized workouts and deliver them to their athletes’ phones. Athletes train, track results and compete on live leaderboards.
LeagueApps: Some organizers are exploring virtual training for the first time. What advice would you give them?
MaxOne: Keep it fun and keep it competitive. Nothing motivates an athlete like a good competition. Many of our coaches and trainers are running weekly competitions, shouting out the winners on social media and even providing awards. Focus on keeping people engaged. We’re going to be in this for longer than anyone thought, so it’s important to break up your training regimen with something light like a “hook-shot three pointer” drill.
Famer: If what you were doing in person was working, figure out how to recreate that. Try to mirror your “real life” training schedule and communication practices. Put your coaches at the center of your programming and help them bring their personality to life. These are people that kids already feel accountable to.
LeagueApps: How would you recommend that organizers get comfortable with new technology?
Famer: Keep it simple to start and get more advanced as you go. At Famer, we have a product called Famer Play which simply allows you to send out workouts each week. Then there’s our Famer Team product, which allows for more two-way communication—coaches can watch videos of players and share comments, content, and encouragement. Our Famer One product is the most technical, including telestration, voiceovers, and more analytics.
MaxOne: Lead with grace. New processes, especially in the technology world, can be challenging to get started. The good news is, once it’s embedded in your program it runs in the background without much thought. We typically hold a couple of webinars for a new organization to help everyone become acclimated and to cast the vision for how MaxOne will become a great competitive advantage for the athletes and coaches.
LeagueApps: Have you pivoted your offering at all to respond to the Coronavirus and the impact it’s having on your customers?
Famer: Our platform has always been free to use for clubs and coaches, and we’ve made it free to athletes during this time as well, so that they can stay on track and continue training.
MaxOne: We are giving away our team platform for free through May 31st. We want every coach to stay connected and every athlete to stay inspired.
LeagueApps: How do you think that the Coronavirus will change the virtual training landscape?
Famer: Before COVID-19, we always said that with Famer, “practice would never be cancelled again.” We always saw ourselves as an extension and enhancement of the club or organization as opposed to something that would actually replace training and playing in person. It was about giving people ways to improve when they weren’t with their team, working on their dribbling or shooting or quickness. But now that we’ve seen what something like this virus can do, we think this will become a regular part of everyone’s programming.
MaxOne: Many coaches and clubs use MaxOne as a supplemental tool where they give “homework” for their athletes outside of practice. This could be as simple as a daily core workout or as complex as individual skill workouts based on each athlete’s stage of development.
LeagueApps: Has the Coronavirus crisis made you think about your company’s mission or purpose in a new way?
Famer: The things that we stand for are even more important now. First, we stand for coaches and are here to help them be the best mentors in their athletes’ lives as possible. Second, we stand for kids and are here to help them improve both on and off the field or court. We’re helping them become better people and not just athletes. Now it’s even more important to support them mentally and physically.
MaxOne: Our values have definitely helped us navigate this situation. We value service, putting others before ourselves. Right now, this means giving our platform away for free to help coaches and athletes. We are ambitious, working hard to do the impossible every day. Over the past few weeks we’ve been given an unprecedented amount of new opportunities, and we’re consistently working ten hour days to keep up. We value transparency, because details build trust. We’ve had to cut everyone’s pay by 50% and have communicated it in a very transparent manner over the last few weeks. And finally, we value excellence. We can’t jeopardize quality for speed, and our leadership team has done a fantastic job of keeping a high bar while moving quickly to meet demand.
LeagueApps: What lessons have you learned from sports, and how are they helping you navigate this difficult time?
Famer: Coming from a family of coaches, sports were always a very important part of my life. One major lesson that has stayed with me as an entrepreneur is that things never go as planned. You can prepare and practice, but in the end, it’s how you react to game-time situations that dictate whether or not you’ll be successful. We’re all adjusting to a new normal, and how we react and persevere will impact what’s on the other side.
MaxOne: Tenacity. I played basketball like a football player, and that tenacity led me to play four years of college basketball. In times like this, it takes that same kind of tenacity to stay motivated. Draw from within and keep on pushing!
LeagueApps: Finally, what do you think that the post-Coronavirus world looks like for the youth and local sports industry?
MaxOne: Athletes will increasingly have on-demand access to training with real-time evaluation at their fingertips. I believe that this increased access to quality digital training will really level the playing field, providing people with quality coaching no matter where they live or play.
Famer: Since mobile coaching is what we do, we obviously think that it’s here to stay. It will never take the place of in-person training/coaching, but we see it as a necessary part of the future. Coaches who aren’t the most tech savvy will be more comfortable working with athletes virtually. Kids will learn how to train at home and see it as an opportunity to focus on their individual skills.
To learn more about virtual programming and hear more from Famer’s Rich Abend, make sure to RSVP for our NextUp Town Hall this Thursday, April 9, at 1 PM. We’ll be sharing tips and strategies for bringing your organization online and answering your questions.