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Randy York’s N-Sider (First in a Series)
Nebraska’s next big thing – its ultimate competitive advantage – is here now, and it’s called EliteForm, an integrated software product that’s being refined almost every day. EliteForm promises to become a household name not only in Nebraska but throughout college athletics, but first things first. EliteForm will be unveiled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in a 10x20-foot exhibition space at the 2012 Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association’s national convention in Orlando.
Six team members from Nebraska Global/EliteForm, the Lincoln-based software company collaborating with NU’s athletic department to build that next big thing in athletic training, competition and sports science, will be manning that booth. They’ll be in Orlando to explain how they’ve integrated a technological solution into a single platform that can redefine every boundary in the history of strength and conditioning training, which, in case you didn’t know, was born in Lincoln and perfected here.
The Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Nebraska Global, plus EliteForm’s general manager and its sales and technology leaders, will be in Florida to market and sell this next big thing to every school in the country that wants to keep up with the Joneses. And let the record show right here right now that the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers are the Joneses in the highly competitive world of strength and conditioning training. Anyone questioning Lincoln as the birthplace of American strength and conditioning training hasn’t been to Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. Yes, inside that stadium, the home of the Longhorns, there is a major display that documents Nebraska’s rightful claim to that incredibly high honor.
Half a Century of Record Wins and Sellouts
Know this. The school that launched the strength and conditioning industry in the late 1960s has no intention of losing the ultimate competitive advantage that has enabled Nebraska to become the No. 1 winner in major college football over the last 50 years and establish an ongoing NCAA record of 50 consecutive years of home-game sellouts. But let’s be honest here. Because Nebraska is an athletic program that believes the best way to predict the future is to invent it yourself, Tom Osborne sees strength and conditioning as just one of the critical components in a student-athlete’s overall development.
Osborne, Nebraska’s athletic director, understands that multiple millions of dollars are required to envision, plan, build and continuously improve that next big thing. He’s savvy enough to know that Nebraska can lead the way as the prototype user. To justify costs, he gets why the overall benefits of EliteForm must extend to other Division I programs, plus additional colleges and universities, not to mention the professional ranks as well as some progressive-minded high schools.
At Nebraska, EliteForm is the engine that will drive the overall student-athlete experience. It will revolutionize strength and conditioning training, but is just one facet of a larger initiative that Osborne envisions when the Huskers move the Nebraska Performance Lab into 20,000 square feet of research space in the East Stadium expansion. “We’ll be part of the research space,” said Brian Zimmer, general manager of EliteForm and a direct report to Steve Kiene, the Managing Principal of Nebraska Global. “We just started our efforts early on. EliteForm is the first product that’s resulted from our collaboration with the Athletic Department and obviously, we anticipate there will be more to come.”
Brandon Rigoni, a member of James Dobson's strength and conditioning staff, said: “The research space is intended to create a competitive advantage at Nebraska. No one else has ever seen the things we’re working on. It’s brand new ... nothing like it ... anywhere.”
Student-Athlete Portal for What’s Important
Existing EliteForm technology, which benefits strength and conditioning specifically, is the first constituent piece of a much greater vision. A student-athlete centered portal, from which nutrition, athletic medicine, strength and conditioning, academics, life skills and coaches can benefit, will encompass a holistic approach to support best practices throughout the entire Nebraska Athletic Department.
Like every system built for efficiency and effectiveness, EliteForm is already well-honed in its simplicity, elegance and ease of use. “We soft-launched the product at another national convention in San Antonio in January,” Zimmer said. “We saw that as an opportunity to show people and validate the product, and it resonated with strength coaches so well that we stayed around to demonstrate it for the American Football Coaches Association Convention right after that. They were excited. They kept using the same word – wow – to describe it. They said they’d never seen anything like it. They thought it was amazing.”
Well, guess what? Those coaches just saw a preview of what was to come. Coaches attending the three-day convention beginning Wednesday will see the full-meal deal in Orlando. “We’ve refined the product quite a bit since January,” Zimmer said. “Nebraska gave us great feedback on the entire product and helped us realize the importance of features like video instant replay. In January, that capability was only available on certain lifts. Now, we have instant replay on every lift.”
EliteForm’s StrengthPlanner helps athletes and coaches focus on the process instead of the paperwork. Instead of all the busy work, coaches have more time to coach because they’re not fighting Excel, whiteboards and stacks of generic copied cards.
Weight Racks Feature Built-in Intelligence
“We’re equipping the weight racks with intelligence they’ve never had,” Zimmer said. “We’re solving problems shared by others and realized early this is blended product. It’s the first time anyone’s ever stitched a number of different aspects about weight training together. We’re tailoring workouts to athletes and enabling accountability because we’re tracking what the athletes do and providing real-time feedback right back to the athlete.”
What excites strength coaches is EliteForm’s ability to put “eyes”/cameras at the rack and data in athletes’ hands. “When they use this product, it motivates and excites them because they can visually see their progress throughout the workout,” Zimmer said. “At the same time, we’re capturing all of the information vital to training performance and storing it in a way they’ve never experienced before.”
In essence, the personalization of workouts helps every athlete optimize what coaches would consider an ideal workout. Because everything is integrated, each athlete can adjust a workout based on velocity and power. Video captures are seamless from every rep and shown with advanced 3D cameras. Post-workout analysis is better than ever and every piece of data is right at your fingertips.
From Wednesday through Friday, Zimmer expects “excitement and a very busy booth” in Orlando “because we’re the first product that’s tied everything together on one platform, and that makes it a real easy and powerful function for coaches,” Zimmer said.
The system allows each school to tailor its own program without restrictions. “Rather than sharing trade secrets, we’ve simply designed the basic infrastructure for everyone to develop their own solutions,” Rigoni said.
As EliteForm Grows, So Will the ‘Joneses’
In other words, Nebraska welcomes the next big thing with the open arms of the earliest adopter, and that keeps the Huskers ahead of a field that will widen once more schools decide to lay their own EliteForm tracks. Remember, you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses when you are the Joneses.
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