Josh Peacock: Our hero today is Rocky Dreandrade, a coach and life long basketball enthusiast. In this episode, Rocky gives us an inside look at his basketball academy, a comprehensive program for developing better athletes across age groups. He unpacks how Gymdesk software has made his life easier and helped him run the academy like a pro. He also reveals how he’s built a viable business from the ground up with word of mouth and organic social media and without sinking a lot of precious budget into running ads. Without further ado, Rocky DeAndre.
Alright, welcome to the Gym Heroes Podcast, Rocky. So, what I always do is I just ask the guest to introduce themselves and then kind of give their background and whatever it is we’re talking about. So, in this case, go ahead and give your background in sports and let us know how you decide to open up a basketball academy.
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah. So, I’m coach Rocky. Rocky Deandrade and I’m out of Foxboro Mass and I’ve been playing basketball ball my entire life. So, I think everyone kind of knows me as the kid that was always training and working on his game. So, it’s kind of funny because you know right when I got out of college, I got a job with a basketball technology company called Swiss Hoop. And that allowed me to stay in the gym every day because we were developing the product. And so, I’m testing it in the gym working on my game. And then a high school teammate of mine was actually preparing to go play professional basketball. So, he was looking for somebody to help him out. And he was actually my first client in the basketball training business. So that was kind of like my side gig at the time.
Josh Peacock: Yeah.
Rocky Deandrade: And then as word-of-mouth spreads and you continue to just be exposed to more players, that’s really how the business started to grow. So, I was working full time with the basketball technology company and training part time and then eventually the business grew to the point where I needed help and I was able to contact some friends that I grew up with and played basketball with and they came on board and before we knew we had a team. That’s really how I got to the point where the business is where it is now and we’ve just continued growing ever since.
Josh Peacock: Awesome. So, did you like work out of somebody else’s facilities before until you grew enough to like get your own or you still hiring space or?
Rocky Deandrade: I still am. Yeah. So, my high school coach is the general manager of a facility called Mass Premier Courts and so together we came up with this business that’s we would essentially, it’s Mass Premier’s business and we’re essentially, I’m just directing and running all of the programming. It’s not my own business but it’s been a great opportunity and partnership for me to be able to grow and understand what it takes to learn, building a business like this and just see that all of that side of how to build a business it’s been great. Because I haven’t had too much risk because the facility owns it. So, it’s been a great opportunity for me. So yeah, that’s the facility owns the business.
Josh Peacock: Got you. Yeah, that’s I always like those little details because opening up an academy, you say that to somebody like oh man, that’s going to cost a lot of money. That’s going to be a lot of overhead cost or at least a ton of rent so if not building your own facilities. So, there are ways to get into something like that without putting a ton of money upfront. You don’t have to take out a half-million-dollar loan to start an academy.
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah, and I’m fortunate for my coach helping me out there. So, it’s been a great partnership and it’s been helpful for all of us. So, it’s been great.
Josh Peacock: Excellent. Yeah. So, for those that might not be familiar, I think most of our listeners are probably people that run like traditional gym studios or like a martial arts school. So, what is a sports academy? What’s Performance Academy? I’ve heard about them before but they seem to be gaining popularity. So, what is it? What does it do?
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah. So, in the basketball space, for us, we run player development training and so this is essentially just we develop players and it’s a little deeper than just running workouts. I think a lot of people when they think of basketball training, they just think of, let’s roll some cones out and let’s just work on our skills. It’s a lot deeper than that. I think especially with us, our focus is really on developing the person first and how they train and how they think and how they just approach their, just the way they train in their habits. I think that is where we start and I think it’s funny because gym desk has actually helped us to manage that a little bit better. Before we didn’t really have a platform to put all the information to one client in one spot.
So, being able to do that now, it’s given our clients all the information they kind of need in one spot and we know we’re able to now communicate with them all in one spot. It’s been helpful because in the basketball training space like players need mentors. It’s almost like it’s funny because like as a trainer we’re not just people that are just helping people develop their skills, we’re actually a therapist, a mentor.
Josh Peacock: Yeah.
Rocky Deandrade: And sometimes you just got to play so many different hats but that’s really what player development is. It’s like how can you take a player and develop them as a person and also be able to develop them in the long-term sense of how their game needs to develop to be the best that they can be.
Josh Peacock: Awesome. So, how the programs work? What are the what are the different membership levels and the different benefits that athletes can enjoy.
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah, so you can, the most basic of them all is just pay per session and that would just be you train when you can. We kind of wanted to go away from that model because in what we do consistency is important. So, we want players to say, yeah you know what I do want to do a membership where I’m doing 5 sessions a month or 9 sessions a month or 15 sessions a month because that is a commitment to their development. If you’re more committed or if you’re committed to something and you’re paying for it upfront and you got X-amount of sessions you got to do in a certain amount of time, you’re going to be seeing more results. Because now you’re actually committed to the to the work. So, we have that as the lowest membership is pay-per-session and then we have a 5 session a month, a 9 session a month, and a 16 session a month and as you go up each membership, you get more levels of personal coaching.
So, the highest of levels, you’re getting full access to me and one of our other lead trainers. We are mentoring. We’re in group chats. We’re really trying to help you develop off the court as much as we can and then also steering your development long term with a plan. And then the lower levels you still get some amount of personal coaching, but obviously just not as robust as the highest of the levels.
Josh Peacock: Right. Cool.
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah.
Josh Peacock: So, in the lifespan of athlete development. Where in the pipeline is it best for an athlete to engage in the training that you do?
Rocky Deandrade: It’s a good question. I would say obviously if you can start earlier, it’s better because you have so much more time to develop. But I think that no matter where you kind of come into the equation whether you want to start training at 9th grade or start training in 4th grade. It we always look at the athlete and say where are they right now? Skill wise what do they need and then kind of see where we can put them in from there. So, if a player is in ninth grade and their skills are really behind, then we’re not going to just throw them in the group that all these kids have been playing for years. It’s not going to help them. It’s not going to help close players.
So, we’ll focus really on developing them on a like a one-on-one basis. Building up their skill sets and really accelerating their development and making sure that they understand what they have to do in their own time. Because if you’re way behind like it’s not just what you’re going to do in the training that’s going to help. It’s got to be what you’re doing on your own as well. And that’s really what helps accelerate the development for the kids that maybe lacking a little bit. So, to answer your question I wouldn’t say there’s really a best time. Obviously, the earlier the better, but we have ways to kind of accelerate the development when a kid is lagging.
Josh Peacock: Excellent. Very cool. So, how does this fit in with the rest of the pipeline? Like so let’s say a school team or I saw on your Instagram that you have a player playing for an AAU team. Do you come in like how do you fit in with those schedules? Are you all year round, you come in at certain times? It’s probably it depends, but I’ll let you take that.
Rocky Deandrade: Absolutely. So, we train year-round, so we’re always here and just it’s really on the players of when they can be here. So, I would say for our pro and college clients they’re really only here in the summer and whenever they come for vacation. So, we see them in the summer and then like over the holidays. And for our high school clients it really depends on if they play like a fall sport or a spring sport. And if they do, it depends on the amount of time that they actually have available to throw in some training on top of that. So, sometimes we only see them in the fall or in the spring and summer but not usually and usually never during the season, because for them they’re practicing like every day then they got games.
So, high school kids we really only see them in their off seasons when they don’t have another sport going on. And then middle school kids those are the kids that are actually there the most. Because during their season they only practice one or two times a week. So, they have additional days that they can get training in. And then they only play once a week as well. Play games. So, we see a lot of them. So, that’s really how like our clients have the time to come in.
Josh Peacock: Awesome.
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah.
Josh Peacock: So, you mentioned offline and I think email from a few weeks ago that your highest tier of membership is like 24/7 access to you and your leader. You’re a lead trainer. So how does that actually work? Is that an exaggeration or can a client call you up at 1 o’clock in the morning and say, hey, I need to work on my layouts.
Rocky Deandrade: It hasn’t happened yet so. But it’s there. No, yeah, we created that membership as a way for, I think for us it was just we wish we had that when we were growing up. That was the one where we said, okay, if we could list out everything, we wish we had in a trainer growing up what would that look like. So, having that access to a trainer to be able to ask them the questions at any time of the day, for even advice even if it doesn’t have anything to do with basketball. Just like, hey man, I had a tough day at school, like can we talk. Like yeah, sure. Because I think again the whole thing player development is like you have to be able to develop the person and like how are they approaching life like it’s way deeper than just what they can do on the court.
So, that’s really why we created that membership and we do have a few athletes in it and it’s been great. Like it’s funny I have a good story. So, I have a couple clients who were in that and one of the things we did is we sent a link. I watched a ton of YouTube videos and I’ve been doing for like four years now since I got out of college but they’re like motivational life coaching videos. And so, I had one, I saw one that was on like writing down your goals every day like in a journal and this is one of my practices. So, when I saw the video, it really hit me. So, I started sending it out to literally like 20, 25 people. But my clients that are in that MVP membership they were some of them. And I had a kid who who’s talking about, he came into the session, the first thing he said to me was, hey, I got a journal and started to write my things down. I’m like, let’s go dude, like that’s what I like to hear.
Then just yesterday I had another client say the same thing and she had a huge smile on her face and for that, that tells me that hey maybe this is helping them to become more confident. So, I’m curious to see where that goes in the long term but yeah, that’s really the 24/7 access part of that.
Josh Peacock: Okay, so you can’t just pull drag somebody down to the court at 2 in the, It’s more like being able to talk to you anytime.
Rocky Deandrade: Again, I haven’t had that happen yet. A kid call me up at one in the morning but I’m sure if they call me and look, I would, if they need, if they call me at one in the morning, they need help, right.
Josh Peacock: True, yeah.
Rocky Deandrade: You know what I mean?
Josh Peacock: Yeah.
Rocky Deandrade: Otherwise, they’re not going to call you at that time of the night.
Josh Peacock: Yeah. True. I mean, you do get some people with insomnia and they’re like, hey, I want to go to the court like shoot.
Rocky Deandrade: True. I’ll let you know.
Josh Peacock: Awesome. So, what goes to switching gears here. What goes into growing your training program? How have you gone about growing it?
Rocky Deandrade: Man, it’s really, I think one of the biggest things is the communication among our team. So, just having like a clear vision of what we’re trying to accomplish. I know when we first started, I mean you’re trying to do so many different things that it’s hard to keep track of what is most important because there’s just so many things to get done. So, I think one of the biggest things we’ve done this year is really come together and like meet frequently, talk about where we at, how are our players looking, what do they need to do to get better, is what we’re doing working, what’s working, what’s not working, okay, let’s cut what’s not working. Okay, let’s do more of that because it is working. It’s just like having those conversations about how we can improve and just being deliberate on what we’re doing.
I think that’s been huge for us because now we’re at actually, we’re just more professional about everything we do and again having Gymdesk was a big part of that. because again, having all of this information for our clients in one spot and just making things easier for them has increased pretty much everything that we do. So, yeah, that’s been like the biggest thing in growing the business is our communication among our team.
Josh Peacock: Excellent. So, what do you do in terms of marketing? Does your parent business? Do they handle a lot of the outreach and the promotion? Do you have ads go Going out or is it just all organic? How do you mechanically grow your numbers?
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah, most of its actually organic. We have a lot of referrals.
Josh Peacock: Nice.
Rocky Deandrade: So, word of mouth has been our big thing. And I think also funny like my personal Instagram where we’re posting and then also with our company Instagram the NBC Hoops one. Between those two I mean we get leads all the time for clients that are looking to work on their game. So, and then yes, the parent company they do help us out big time with email outreach. So, between that our Instagram and word of mouth. That’s really how we generate more clients.
Josh Peacock: Awesome. Cool.
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah.
Josh Peacock: This one’s a little bit off script, but I was watching your, a couple of videos on your one of your Instagram profiles. And I saw some exercises that I really like a in the middle type of game where somebody was trying to block the ball before it got shot in it and the like two or three of the players were passing from one another to get that opening. How do you go about putting together you session plans? Like is there a framework behind it or is it individualized, like what’s going on in your head when you’re planning those sessions?
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah, so on like a macro, we have a curriculum. So, we’re continuously building on that and so that curriculum kind of guides what we’re doing for like each month. Because we like to do things in span of three. So, if can do like three weeks of one thing and really lock it in like we’re on a good path. And if the kids don’t necessarily pick it all up within those three weeks, we’ll keep on it. So, it’s always flexible there, but and then on a daily basis it’s everything is planned. So, I’ll look at what our curriculum is and then I’ll write out a plan for the week so generally what we’re going to do throughout the week. And then as you’re in the flow of the workout you might notice things that everybody’s kind of struggling with and you have, alright you know what? I had this plan but this might be better. Because this is what they need right now.
So yeah, I would say that’s really how we go about like planning the workouts. But everything is intentional. I don’t go into workouts without a plan because it’s just for me personally I’m very big on being intentional. So, I feel like if you have a plan and a vision for what you’re trying to do generally it’s just going to be better. So, that’s just my personal style. I know there’s a bunch of other coaches and trainers that for them it’s better roll out and go like, but for me yeah everything is written down and most of our other guys on the team too I think that’s that could be true for them as well.
Josh Peacock: Yeah, personally I think that’s the way to go but I like that you have a curriculum. You have things set and not in stone but you have things set there for you, but there’s always that buffer between the curriculum in the class of like what’s going on with the learners. What’s going on with the athletes so we can always tweak that so that they’re getting what they need optimally instead of just blindly. Because a lot of places my background’s more in martial arts and the only thing worse than not having a curriculum is having a curriculum is too rigid. We’re just doing this and we’re not doing anything else and if you don’t get it, we’re not going to drill down or do anything. So, yeah, that’s great. I like to hear that. That’s good.
Rocky Deandrade: Thank you.
Josh Peacock: I always like coaching stuff. Awesome. Cool. So, you mentioned centralized communication having everything in in one place. Are there any other ways that Gymdesk has really helped you run your academy?
Rocky Deandrade: Yes. I think just saving me a lot of time. Before man, so when I first started in the training space, I didn’t have a Sunday. Like every Sunday was spent texting our clients waiting for them and filling out a Google sheet on the calendar. All day Sunday. I couldn’t even watch football. Like it was yeah, no time. So, then we went to a different software. I was able to free up sometime because we could schedule out in advance. But now with Gymdesk I mean I’m putting the out months in advance and that’s saved us so much time and allowed me now to do other things that actually help to work on the business instead of working in it. So, that for me has been the biggest thing.
What else is it? Oh, another one is being able to give our clients tangible stuff to look at so that they know what to work on at home. So, one of our biggest things and this is something I will preach for the rest of my life as long as I do this is the biggest frequency is in the work that you put in on your own time. So, what you’ll do in training is important don’t get me wrong. But if you’re not doing work on your own it it’s you’re only you’re just not going to reach the level that you could. So, for us, we’re like, okay you know what? Maybe our kids at home don’t really know or maybe they’re not really translating what they’re taking in the training and truly understanding how to work on it at home.
So, why don’t we create content for them that they can look at and see the main points of what we’ve been doing in the training. So, that they can now have clarity on how to work on their stuff at home and that’s been amazing. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments and just a lot of great feedback on that piece and being able to add that value to our clients has been huge. So, that’s definitely a big one.
Josh Peacock: That’s our content management section there, that you’re talking about. Yeah. Awesome. Do you use the function where you can kind of segment content by like skill level and stuff like that?
Rocky Deandrade: Yeah so, we segmented by like type of type of skills. So, we’ll do like dribbling, shooting, passing, defense, all that. Yeah.
Josh Peacock: Cool. That’s awesome. Glad to hear that. I haven’t really heard anyone that’s used that feature to that extent yet. I know it’s there and I know there are people using it, but I just haven’t talked to anyone yet. That’s exciting. That’s really cool. Yeah, I really like that too because the funny thing is before I started working for Gymdesk, I had actually used the software towards the tail end of, I had a tiquando club that I ran for a little while. So, I ended up consulting for Gym Desk before back when it was called Martial Arts on Rails, before I ended up becoming an employee for it. I was like this is the weirdest thing. I’m consulting for a software that I actually tried out like a while ago. But at that time, I don’t think they had the content stuff yet.
Rocky Deandrade: Oh wow. Yeah. It’s been a great tool man.
Josh Peacock: Yeah.
Rocky Deandrade: It’s everything.
Josh Peacock: Yeah, it’s really cool.
Rocky Deandrade: So, did you use it when you had your club?
Josh Peacock: Yeah, I did. It didn’t have the content thing but I used the member management part of it.
Rocky Deandrade: Okay.
Josh Peacock: Yeah.
Rocky Deandrade: Nice. And so, you consulted for Gymdesk?
Josh Peacock: Yeah, before I became an employee of it. Yep.
Rocky Deandrade: That’s cool. Very cool.
Josh Peacock: Yeah. Awesome. Cool. So, where can listeners find you if they want to reach out?
Rocky Deandrade: They can find us so my personal Instagram is RockSteadyRD3. Our company’s Instagram is @MPCHoops and we have a website as well through Gymdesk. So, it’s “MPChoopstraining.com/Gymdesk”. So, they can go there and if you want to reach us by email it’d be training@MPCourts.com.
Josh Peacock: Awesome. Well, thank you for coming on. I hope we can do this again sometime.
Rocky Deandrade: Absolutely. Thank you so much Josh. Appreciate everything you guys are doing. And I also want to just kind of shout out is it is it, Erin? Erin?
Josh Peacock: I call them Aaron. I’m not 100% sure actually.
Rocky Deandrade: Aaron and Anna. They help me out so much. They’re always giving me; I’ll ask them questions at all times of the day. They answer me with these elaborate answers that help me out. So, big shout out to them because they’ve been very helpful.
Josh Peacock: Yes, they’re very helpful. Those guys are great.
Rocky Deandrade: Absolutely.
Josh Peacock: Yeah. No worries, man. Thank you for coming on.
Rocky Deandrade: Thank you. Absolutely. Take care.