3 Observations From The ABCA Convention Poised to Shape The Future of Youth Baseball
This Year’s ABCA Convention Was The Largest Yet- Here’s What To Expect.
Last weekend Indianapolis hosted the largest baseball convention in history, as over 6,000 coaches and 300+ exhibitors packed this year’s ABCA convention. Many attendees fought a massive blizzard on the east coast and everyone withstood the frigid single digit weather outside the Indiana Convention Center.
There was something for everyone. Keynote speakers included some of the best minds in the game, such as World Champion AJ Hinch and Texas legend Auggie Garrido. The trade show floor included different wearables and gadgets that were fun to play with, but also valuable tools in helping youth clubs operate and scale.
Here are 3 observations for club teams this year from the ABCA Convention and what to expect in 2018.
I entered the coaching profession some twelve years ago at a time in my life when I thought I knew it all. It wasn’t until I started attending the @ABCA1945 Coaches Conventions when I truly understood how little I understood.
— Darren Fenster (@CoachYourKids) January 5, 2018
1) It’s evolving from a baseball product convention to a technology conference
Not so long ago, the exhibitors and vendors were mainly focused on baseball equipment. Gloves, bats, and lockers were showcase items on the trade floor. Not anymore.
“Outside the more established players like Blast Motion, Diamond Kinetics, and Trackman, it seemed like every other booth was an up-and-comer in wearable technology, digital analytics, or virtual reality,” former pro Arden McWilliams said.
This mimics the growing trend of sports technology further shaping the operations of youth baseball clubs across the country.
2) Big league technology is increasingly user-friendly at the amateur level
One of the old arguments against sports technology in the youth industry was the adage that the tools were too difficult to use. The time cost to learn these new tools hurt coaches, parents, players, and admins.
Sensing this gap, companies like Blast Motion and FlightScope are working to make technology products more accessible and user-friendly. Now, any youth club can collect big data to optimize operations, recruiting, and player performance, just like their favorite Major League Baseball team.
Take Blast Motion, for example. They were named MLB’s official bat sensor technology provider in June of 2016. And now they’ve expanded their bat sensor technology by utilizing smartphones to capture similar results data. Any coach or parent can use this sophisticated technology.
Said former Astros scout Paul Cusick, “This convention helped me realize that all the great technologies we utilize with the Astros and MLB have been available for years, but are just now becoming more user-friendly and accessible for coaches, parents, players at the amateur level,”
“In the next five years, I believe that the majority of vendors will be service and technology providers,” Cusick said.
3) The ABCA has built an outstanding community
The ABCA has been around since 1945. It has name recognition and brand equity. And it remains trusted by baseball coaches at all levels across the country. This connection with attendees is palpable. It makes the ABCA Convention one of the greatest networking events for baseball coaches, club directors and admins, and sports tech folks from around the globe.
— Frank Durand (@NYFRANK27) January 6, 2018
Best coaching practices are swapped and eagerly handed out from some of the game’s top minds. The staff are attentive and all vendors are genuinely passionate about the game and growing youth baseball. It truly is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. This reason alone will keep us coming back again and again.
See you in Dallas in 2019!
Did you go to ABCA this year? Let us know! What were you biggest takeaways or observations from the event? Feel free to comment below or reach out to us directly on social media.