The idea of Beyond Pulse was born in 2015 out of Ohio University and the Coaching Education Master’s degree program. It was at this time I met Montreal born Marc-Andre Maillet – Beyond Pulse Founder and CEO. During our studies together, we were experimenting with some heart monitoring wearable technology to measure athlete performance and recovery when in one of these classes, Marc-Andre questioned, “Wouldn’t it be great to actually look at this information as a reflection of what the coach is doing (or isn’t doing), instead of just the athlete?!”.
At the time I personally had very little interest in wearable technology and felt the science could never match the art of our profession. However at this moment, a light bulb similarly went off in my own head… Yes! This information could be incredibly beneficial to coaches at all levels of sports? Particularly youth sports. With the perspective of how this information is controlled by the coach through the types of activities they plan and deliver but most importantly, through how they coach!
While this was indeed a novel way to start looking at data, it became very obvious there were still many boundaries in even making this type of technology accessible for people to experience and learn from. Wearable technology has only ever been an option for the highest levels of elite sports based on three major things:
- The technology requires a high level of expertise to understand and make sense of;
- You need a dedicated individual to manage it which requires a lot of time and energy;
- These systems are incredibly expensive!
In understanding these challenges, we discovered disruptive and innovative ways to simplify the entire process and make this a reality for the 99%. Marc-Andre then famously remarked, “we can potentially have every young player with their own wearable device, and it goes in their bag with them to practice just like their shin guards and their shoes!”
With a vision of building Beyond Pulse on the horizon, I recommended we needed one more person to join us in making this a reality. The next day, we drove to New York and spent the weekend with Mr. Mark Wilson – the third Beyond Pulse Co-Founder!
Fast forward to 2020 and we now serve almost 10,000 youth sports participants ranging from clubs to colleges all across North America. We have partnered with some of the major organizations in youth sports and coaching education including the United Soccer Coaches, US Club Soccer and the ECNL leagues.
How did we do it? The first step was to be crystal clear on our “Why?” Why would we even need wearable technology in youth sports? It was important here to understand some of the biggest issues we see in the youth sports landscape:
- There are currently 20 million children that participate in competitive youth sports across the USA.
- 70% of these participants quit sport by the age of 13 years old.
- While there are several reasons for this dropout, one of the biggest factors is that kids stop having fun which is also cited as the main reason why they play in the first place.
In this light, we wanted to develop the technology to fundamentally help combat this issue. We connect the idea of youth having fun to being active, challenged and engaged. This is where we can use the technology to help guide coaches through data-driven coaching education promoting best practices in youth sports development.
The second key piece in achieving this was through the technology itself. We needed to build something that was the complete opposite of the technology systems of the past in order to serve the grassroots, not the elite 1%:
- We simplified key development metrics so they were easy to understand and apply e.g. Active Participation = how much time were the players physically active vs. being stood still? Very simple, but very powerful!
- We worked hard to make the data collection process effortless and non-intrusive to the playing experience. Players just wear a belt and the device is activated through an app on either the coach or player’s smart phone. No plug ins, no downloads, no recharge, no big suitcase.
- When building an option in this way, we could then be affordable and a realistic option for all!
We are proud to have built something that we believe can truly enhance the youth sporting experience for all participants, regardless of their level of play. Our focus for this technology is predominantly on youth. Why? Because we believe this is the area that coaches need the most support. If we can vastly improve what is happening at the base of youth sports, not only will their experience be better and so too their likelihood to remain lifelong participants, but so too will the caliber of athlete who goes on to climb the competitive ladder.
While we are still a young company, there is still a lot of work ahead of us. Our long-term vision is to continue to improve our services and support all youth participants and coaches across multiple sports. Regardless of the activity, the principles of how children learn, and how coaches should consider working with young people remain the same. Coaches of youth teams and clubs around the country can get a taste of the Beyond Pulse technology for free by simply completing a Demo Request from our website – https://beyondpulse.com/en/demos/