New Mustard App Giving Tom House-Specific Mechanics Coaching Via Phone
Tom House has a 40-year history of coaching the mechanics of Hall of Famers across baseball, football and golf. That elite-level coaching—think: 22 starting NFL quarterbacks under his teaching at one time—was previously reserved for elite-level players. House, though, has a new avenue to share his coaching, with an entire team launching the beta version of the coaching app Mustard this September, allowing a user’s phone to capture video that leads to House-specific mechanics coaching.
“There is not a product out like it now,” says Rocky Collis, Mustard co-founder, CEO and a former minor league pitcher. “This is one of the world’s all-time great coaches giving you personalized lesson plans automatically and immediately. The technology works from every camera angle.”
Mustard launches in beta for baseball pitchers—the company’s website has a sign-up to be added to the beta waitlist—and plans to add hitting, both for baseball and softball, later in 2020 before expanding to golf with the help of Mustard founder and president Jason Goldsmith, a golf coach with multiple major winners under his tutelage. Mustard will lean heavily on both House and investor and NFL All-Star Drew Brees to roll out a planned football version come spring 2021.
What makes Mustard unique in the marketplace, Collis says, is the ability to use a phone’s built-in camera—and from any angle—without the need for an additional sensor to grab the mechanics data from a player. The app can then evaluate those mechanics, using House’s 40 years of expertise as the baseline, to within 45 seconds provide a pass-fail report card covering 11 different key variables, just like House does with the elite players in person.
For mechanics a player didn’t pass, they get drills to improve upon that issue. “We will give them a full plan on what exercises and drills they should be doing, with videos from Tom explaining what the mechanics are and a model performing that mechanic correctly,” Collis says.
On the back end, using an artificial intelligence system eliminates the need for sensors or stopwatches, opening up Mustard for use by a coach on the field, a scout in the stands or any age of player working by themselves in the backyard.
“We are essentially taking what Tom House does with Nolan Ryan and Drew Brees and making it available to kids all over the world,” Collis says. In person, House runs athletes through a series of exercises while they wear 3D sensors with the results showing muscle imbalances and mechanics to result in a personalized training program. Mustard replaces all that.
“Tom has researched this for 40 years and come up with model mechanics, which is pretty close to Nolan Ryan, and then what are acceptable deviations for acceptable age groups,” Collis says. Those age group designations will be embedded in the app, offering personalized coaching based on different windows of trainability and learnability, based on age.
In the app, users get met with a TikTok-style full-screen video where they can then upload previously taken video or capture it directly in the app. The report card comes back with personalized drills and exercise from the video. Rocky Collis says the app, which doesn’t need a specific camera angle to work, can also handle entire innings or bullpen sessions of video and automatically cut away the down time to focus on just the pitches.
“You can set it up, throw 10 pitches and come back and get a report card,” he says. “If you are in the stands, even at a weird angle, the system can cut down to just the pitches. We think that will be a big advantage for scouting.”
Key metrics include stride length, timing and striding fast. “Some of the things in the app are tailored to what Tom teaches and they might be fairly unique to him,” says Luke Collis, co-founder, head of product, brother of Rocky and former House student during his seven-year professional quarterbacking career. “But across the board, getting out far, striding far and striding fast, that is just ground truth from anybody you ask that you will throw harder.”
Many of the variables are timing based, such as how quickly a pitcher gets into foot strike. The goal is to get pitchers to release the ball as close to the plate as possible. “We talk a lot about velocity and a lot of training is designed to help guys throw harder safely,” Rocky Collis says. “If you think about the reasons you care about velocity, it is asking how much time hitters have to react. What we measure is how close the pitcher releases the ball to the plate. We could back into miles per hour, but we can tell how much time a pitcher is giving a hitter to react.” Rocky Collis says much of the pitching mechanics focuses around finding the best release angle for a pitcher to reduce injury while releasing closer to the plate, all with the goal of giving the hitter the least possible amount of reaction time.
Over time, Mustard plans to bring Goldsmith’s focus on mental performance into the fray. Goldsmith has used mindfulness training with the likes of Jason Day and Justin Rose and has a FocusBand product that measures brain frequencies to check if an athlete is in a “flow state,” Rocky Collis says, adding that his approach to mental training, when added, will give youth access to the same type of elite mental performance training the highest level of athletes currently use.
As Mustard launches, it comes free thanks to money raised from venture capital and investors like Nolan and Reid Ryan and Brees, among a list of many others, but over time a likely $9 per month subscription model will layer in premium features and content.
As Mustard continues to build, expect to see the big names backing House and Mustard to make an appearance in the app, whether Brees in the football version, top-ranked golfers or even the prototype Nolan Ryan mechanics.