This past season, an SEC assistant football coach (anonymity requested) was perplexed as to why his young physically gifted player was still struggling to make an impact on the field as they’d just wrapped up a third of their schedule. The young player was a physical specimen who was expected to be a significant part of the team’s plan, but he just couldn’t consistently execute the elements of the system.
The exasperated coach finally let out his frustrations in a coaches meeting. “He just doesn’t get it!” exclaimed the coach. “I meet with him every morning to review his responsibilities and it just doesn’t carry it over to the field. I don’t know what else to do!” Afterward, a senior member of the staff, who happened to be in the meeting, went up to his office and printed out the player’s APTUS assessment results.
Based on the APTUS results, the staff quickly recognized that their struggling young player was a walk-thru learner rather than a whiteboard learner. The player learned best by “doing”, not by drawing on a whiteboard every morning. In other words, he was a “kinesthetic learner” who just needed more reps on the field. His coach took note and made a point to get him more reps in practice. By season’s end, the kid had developed into one of the most productive players on the team.
“My handling of him (Marcus Dupree) was probably the most regrettable coaching experience that I had” – Barry Switzer on ESPN 30 for 30
What is an APTUS assessment?
Since 2009, Texas-based company APTUS has used advancements in technology and behavioral science to develop a tablet-based platform that measures and objectively reports how a person defines, processes, and executes instruction. On a tablet, a person participates in an interactive assessment that consists of 10 exercises lasting a total of 30 minutes. Best described as video game-like, the assessment requires active participation and measures learning as it occurs in real time.
Why might the APTUS assessment be more beneficial than the Wonderlic, player interviews, subjective surveys, and questionnaires?
One main difference between the APTUS assessment and other subjective analysis is that it is not an interview, survey, or test. In fact, APTUS happily enforces an office rule that requires an employee to drop and do 10 pushups on the spot if they do call it a “test”, according to company executive Mac Lane. There are no multiple choice or true/false questions. This means that every player that participates in the assessment is being measured on an equal playing field. It minimizes any variance caused by test anxiety or educational background.
Another main advantage of the APTUS assessment is in the tablet platform itself. It accounts for the fact that today’s young adults are easily the most distracted group the world has ever seen. Today, nearly every college kid can update their Facebook status, tweet their friends, or comment on Instagram on a moment’s notice. Instead of the Wonderlic’s daunting 50-questions-in-12-minutes written format, APTUS meets the players on a familiar platform and engages them with game-like exercises so that they’re almost unaware of the fact that its an assessment.
Nowadays, it’s almost common knowledge that the Wonderlic has little to no correlation to NFL success. Over the years, there have been several examples of Hall of Fame players that bombed the test, while plenty of NFL busts aced it. You may even think that Wonderlic scores would at least reveal some indication of quarterback success since it is arguably the most cognitively demanding position in sports. But if you looked at the scores Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw posted pre-draft, you’d be certain they would struggle to grasp an NFL playbook. In the meantime, guys like Matt Leinart and Joey Harrington posted scores well above the average.
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less” – General Shinseki
Fast forward to 2014. After listening to NFL GMs complaining about getting it right with prospects only 50% of the time and college coaches venting about recruits’ inability to develop, APTUS has pinpointed a major area of opportunity that the Wonderlic doesn’t address: finding out the best method to developing a player.
Ty Detmer, former NFL quarterback and current high school football coach, has gone on record saying that for years he had been teaching his players the way he liked to be taught when he played—from a whiteboard. That is, until APTUS discovered and revealed his new quarterback was more of a kinesthetic learner. “It changed how I approach practice in that he needs reps”, Detmer said about his new quarterback. He continued, “He’s a good player, but he just learns differently than the guy I had last year”.
Why is APTUS specifically beneficial to college football programs?
-With NCAA rules allotting coaches only 20 hours per week of preparation with their players, efficiency on and off the field is critical. APTUS assessment results enable coaches to maximize their teaching methods in meetings and on the field.
-APTUS assessments can also be useful for school tutors. If there is a player that is on the cusp of becoming academically ineligible, he may be assigned a tutor to help him with his classroom material. The tutor can tailor their approach to each student athlete. It has become a valuable tool for meeting the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate requirement.
Why is APTUS specifically beneficial to NFL organizations?
-When evaluating NFL prospects, GMs can use APTUS results to determine if and how a prospect’s learning style fits with the team’s position coach.
-GMs will have objective data during the draft process that shows how a player learns. Subjective player interviews are saturated with self-reporting and rehearsed responses when they are asked how they pickup a playbook. The truth is, some guys might not even realize their best learning style.
-If a current player’s development is slow, APTUS results can help coaches pinpoint the issue and tailor their development strategy for that player.
Who is currently using APTUS?
Football organizations at all levels are using APTUS. The 2014 East/West Shrine game officials actually booked APTUS for an assessment session of its invitees. This year’s Senior Bowl and NFL Combine also welcomed APTUS at its events. At the collegiate level, several prominent college teams in the SEC, Big 10, and Big 12 (among others) are currently using APTUS assessments. They have also been used on NFL players. Regardless of the level, the bottom line is that APTUS is a quickly growing competitive-edge that results in maximizing an organization’s capital, time, talent, and investment.
How can teams win with APTUS?
APTUS assessments are not just practice field developmental tools. Coaches are already using the results during games. Last year, one college coach (anonymity requested) from a major program credited APTUS for one of their toughest conference wins of the year. Readily available assessment results pointed to a strategic in-game personnel move that the coach believes won the game for them.
Craig Flowers, an APTUS executive and retired Army colonel, reports, “Most every team with a demonstrated record of a commitment to winning not only understands APTUS, but welcomes it. Great coaches are great leaders. In order to win, they constantly adapt to their environment and fight complacency daily. APTUS is providing them a competitive edge.”
The word in college football and NFL circles is spreading like a wildfire as coaches seek out this competitive edge. Flowers and his representatives have dozens of meetings with college and NFL teams lined up this year. It’s only a matter of time before every NCAA and NFL team is using APTUS as a personnel management resource.
“APTUS empowers coaches with an objective competitive-edge never before thought possible”, Flowers says. “APTUS removes human biases, saving coaches a tremendous amount of time while maximizing personnel development.”
For more information, visit the APTUS website.