Building an All-Star Lineup

AthleteTypes Helps Draft Winning Teams

Ten seconds left. You have the ball at the 17-yard line. That’s two shots into the end zone. If you catch this ball in-play, you’ve got to either get out of bounds or you’ve got to score. Brady to the end zone. And that’s Thompkins with a touchdown!

That moment from a New England Patriots game against the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL season was one of many that helped establish quarterback Tom Brady as an icon. His expert play-calling and precision passing have made him one of the most well-known names in American football.

Before Brady was named Super Bowl MVP and league MVP twice, before he led the Patriots to 11 division titles and six Super Bowls, before he launched an NFL career that has spanned 19 seasons so far, Brady had trouble standing out. The University of Michigan quarterback didn’t receive much attention from pro scouts. He was the 199th player chosen in the 2000 draft, when the Patriots took a chance on him and picked him up in the sixth round.

The Patriots had intel on Brady’s higher-level characteristics that indicated he had potential to become a star player. The team worked with AthleteTypes co-founder Dr. Robert Troutwine and were early adopters of the Troutwine Athletic Profile (TAP) assessment, an online test that identifies players’ intangible characteristics such as leadership, grit and mindset.

This blueprint of Brady’s qualities signified to Bill Belichick, head coach of the Patriots, that Brady had room to grow and was the right type of player for the team. “In draft player evaluations, Belichick looks for diamonds in the rough. He looks for people with room to grow their development to see if they’d be a good fit and coachable players,” said Sterling Bates, co-founder and chief technology officer of AthleteTypes. “Ninety percent of success in sports is mental. Belichick understands that and uses our tool to figure out how to get the most out of his players.”

Drafting the Play

Established in 2017 and housed at a University of Central Florida Business Incubator in Orlando, AthleteTypes operates on the premise that the right team can accomplish more than one great individual. The company uses people-centric science, proprietary psychometric assessments and predictive analytics to help individuals and teams reach their full potential. Its user-specific reports deliver metrics that help companies and teams look past tangible characteristics and understand the je ne sais quoi of personality types.

“One of my greatest ironies is that I know very little about sports,” Bates said. “I’ve learned through osmosis and being in this environment, but I’m more so interested in the science of sports and team psychology.”

Bates got his start in the information technology department at Disney, working as a business intelligence strategist. His focus was delivering the right information to the right people at the right time.

“After 10 years, it became clear that many of the challenges we encountered had less to do with technology and more to do with this other thing: people,” Bates said. He shifted his focus toward psychology and the structure of team-building. He left Disney to become an entrepreneur.

As Bates built his business, he realized he needed to form his own award-winning lineup. He met co-founders Troutwine, a prominent sports psychologist with more than 30 years of experience working in pro sports and with other elite organizations such as the U.S. Navy SEALs and Ford Motor Company, and Robert Pike, a former football player, technology company veteran and lawyer.

“It was just one of those things where all of our forces combined were much more powerful than they were independent,” Bates said. “That realization was the impetus to join us all together.”

Beyond generating a detailed report on intangible characteristics, AthleteTypes offers deep intel and actionable techniques to improve a player’s performance and mindset.

“In many ways, we don’t see ourselves as an assessment company,” Bates said. “While certainly we are famous for our assessment, in reality, that’s not where we see our value. That’s the starting point.

“Consider Google Maps or your GPS. The first thing that measures is where you are — your longitude and latitude. So that, to us, is the assessment. But you have to know where you’re trying to go or what you’re trying to accomplish. The value comes not from the data, but from actually changing people’s lives by helping each person on a team know how to best be successful.”

Equity in Action

Major league baseball team the Kansas City Royals uses the assessment and online sports psychology courses to hire the right players along with teams representing 10 professional leagues including the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. The Mayo Clinic, Ford Motor Company and Navy SEALs use the assessment as well. The metrics apply to individuals and teams across any industry, economic background and age range.

Individuals can take a free version of the TAP assessment online at no cost. This provides useful analytics to the individual and adds to the TAP database.

“One of the things we’re aware of is that there are many athletes in the world who don’t have a lot of money,” Bates said. “We felt very strongly that some of our goal was to help individuals, mainly high school students, no matter what their economic background.”

A paid feature referred to as the “mental gym” acts as a personal, on-demand sports psychologist. It allows users to embark on a journey of self-improvement through a series of courses.

“It turns out that many of the mental skills an athlete uses are the same mental skills that your therapist might recommend,” Bates said. “How do you improve your resilience? How do you improve your grit? How do you go help yourself be more productive?”

Instilling beneficial mental skills, particularly in high school students, is one of AthleteTypes’ missions. “There’s a statistic that some 95 percent of CEOs played sports in college or high school,” Bates said. “So, in many ways, we’re training America’s next set of business leaders, but we’re delivering it through sports training and development.”

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About the author

Elyssa Coultas

Elyssa Coultas

As digital brand manager and writer for i4 Business, Elyssa Coultas anticipates learning from the i4 team and continuing to grow as a writer, designer and entrepreneur.

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