Part 3 of deCervo At The deCade

10 Years of Progress

Decision training apps for real-world applications

 February 28, 2024

Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade: Product-Market Fit, 2021-2024

Part 3 of deCervo At The deCade: Accelerating Cognitive Development

A Look Back on Decision Training History We’ve Made

This month marks 10 years, a full decade, of our company. Here, we look back at what we’ve done and where we’re going. From our founding in 2014, to our early work in Major League Baseball (2015-2018), we will review our early accomplishments. From our sustained work for the US Army (2017-present), to our integration into the National Hockey League’s referee / linesmen development (2018-present), we will examine our enterprise-scale research and apps. Along the way, we will highlight continuing accomplishments in baseball and fastpitch softball. Finally, we will review our first product suite outside of sports, the law enforcement / police training tool, e-TRAIN (2021-present). We will see where its early impacts have been and where it has yet to help police and community safety in the US.

For each of these stops on the deCervo deCade, we will revisit news articles and case studies of our own. We will track how brain science discoveries we made led to the products we help people with every day.


Part 1

In part 1 of deCervo at the deCade, we covered 2014-2016 (see here). In 2014, we highlighted the first signs in our scientific research that decision training may be possible. We talked about our initial mission to provide neuroscience-informed scouting and our initial company name, “Neuroscout.” In 2015, we recounted our rebrand to “deCervo” and our change in focus to decision training. In that same year, we recounted our early work in Major League Baseball and the continuation of our scholarly research. Finally, in 2016, we recounted our capstone scientific findings and first signs of hitter development potential in pro baseball.

Part 2

In part 2 of deCervo at the deCade, we covered 2017-2020 (see here). For 2017, we looked at the beginning to our research for the US Army and our first client results in pro baseball. In 2018,  we surveyed the early accolades and challenges from scaling our approach to hitter development. We also lookedd at the start of our 6-year relationship with the NHL Officiating Department this year. Finally, we note the first full year of what became multi-year research for the Army. In 2019, we covered new directions in baseball / softball informed by our previous season. We recounted first steps in making a product for police training. And we recounted the organizational shift that happened in the NHL’s development of officials that put our product directly at the center.

Part 3

Here, in part 3 of deCervo at the deCade, we will cover 2021-present. For 2021, we survey initial results in pro and college baseball and softball for our customize training program, uHIT Custom. In 2022, we see continued progress with baseball / softball. And we highlight first clients in police training, along with expansion in referee training. In 2023, we note our first measurable effects on player valuation in pro baseball. We also highlight the 3-year research grant awarded by the Army Research Office. Finally, for 2024, we look ahead to the new developments rolling out this year and what expectations we have for their impact.

Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade: uHIT College Partnership Program

2021: College and Pro Results for uHIT Custom, Other Apps

We were still dealing with restrictions due to COVID in the US during 2021. Still, to start Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade, we look at the first team-wide results we saw for our individualized training solution, uHIT Custom. Importantly, these results showed us that individualized solutions to accelerate development were valuable in other areas too. While we examine the results in baseball and softball, we keep in mind that these gains set the stage for analogues in hockey, policing and other areas.

uHIT College Partnership Program

When Fall 2020 approached, we instituted the uHIT College Partnership Program (see more here). With a certification program for coaches, we provided uHIT Custom trials to college programs constrained by COVID restrictions. As a result, we had extensive traction for uHIT Custom in both baseball and softball. With the coming season’s data, we were then able to examine year-over-year (or year-over-two-year) changes in team performance. We found significant gains in OPS for baseball hitters (see here). Later interviews with team hitting coaches explained in more detail the changes they saw (see here). We found comparable gains in OPS for softball hitters too (see here). And simultaneous certification programs helped these coaches understand and implement the training better (see here).

Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade: Streamlined Return to Pro Baseball with uHIT Custom
Fresh Start in Major League Hitter Development

With our streamlined uHIT Custom program, MLB orgs were also also looking for new ways to engage hitters while battling COVID restrictions. One MLB org in CA became a client in Summer 2021, giving uHIT Custom training to 10 hitters. These hitters were unknown to us and scattered across multiple levels of the org. Much like the 2016 study (see Mar 15 2024 study here), there were pros and cons to such an approach. But we found substantial changes in process metrics again from training with uHIT Custom (see here). We could not look at more tangible outcomes like OPS without knowing the hitters’ identities. Still, we saw a significant impact on accelerating hitter development and promotions over only 8 weeks of use. This result set the stage for a wider MLB org rollout the following year.

Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade: Expansion in Hockey Referee Training

2022: Development in Softball/Baseball, First Clients in Policing, Hockey Expansion

In this section of part 3 of deCervo at the deCade, we look at further traction for uHIT Custom. We also examine our first rollouts in police training and our gradual expansion to other forums of hockey officiating.

Team-Wide Impact in College Softball and Pro Baseball

We highlight here two college programs that integrated uHIT Custom into their training approach. These teams saw 40-200 more OPS points in hitting production from using uHIT Custom (see more here). Importantly, these year-over-year changes demonstrated for us that team-wide implementation driven by a coach could make a difference. Previous team uses had left uHIT Custom up to the players to decide dosing (see here for Fresno State’s approach). But these team results in Division I and NAIA teams showed that strong leadership from the coach was a key ingredient to team success with uHIT.

This template worked again for a trial run with an MLB org based in TX. Those results set the stage for the following season blockbuster impact on player salary value (see here) implemented with this method of training.

First Police Agency Clients

In 2022, we also began our first rollouts with police agencies. e-TRAIN had developed into a Basic Curriculum (see more) and Dashboard (see video here) for training management by then.  One of those agencies (Orange Beach, AL) started seeing what we long suspected would be the value of e-TRAIN. They started seeing this year how e-TRAIN helps officers learn to interact with the public before they are in harms way.

Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade: First Police Agency Clients
Expansion Under the NHL Umbrella: American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League

We continued to successfully accelerate development of early-stage NHL Officials with uCALL. In partnership with the NHL, we expanded our program to accelerate learning the NHL Standard of play-calling with other pro hockey leagues. Both the AHL and ECHL joined this expansion, adding uCALL as the “Official Decision Training Tool” of their officials (see here). You can see more about this expansion from the below interview aired on NHL Network during the ECHL All-Star Classic:

Part 3 of deCervo at the deCade: Connections to Player Valuation

2023: Effects on Hitter Value, Army 3-Year Contract, NHL Permeation

2023 is the last full year we examine in part 3 of deCervo at the deCade. We see first signs of being able to valuate uHIT Custom against player salary and trading value this year. We also begin work on a 3-year research effort in applied brain science for the Army. Finally, we note the permeation of uCALL to the development of NHL Officials, graduating 100% of new referees and linesmen this season through our training.

Turning $10,000 into $2,375,000 of Hitter Value

The ease-of-use and scalability of uHIT Custom attracted our TX MLB org client to bring it to 40 of its hitters this year. There were several hitters with significant OPS improvements, from 30 to 500 more points (see here and here). One of these hitters became part of a high-profile trade for pitcher Aroldis Chapman (see here). As a result, his value shot up to roughly $2.375M, which is a substantial change from his $10,000 signing bonus back in 2022 (see here).

This result confirmed for us early hypotheses that changes in OPS we were making could translate to player value (see here). There, we estimated that a 173-point OPS gain would equate to $1.15M in player value increase (in 2023 $USD). With this MLB org, we saw that this estimate was extremely conservative. Back in 2018, we had early signs of such a connection between OPS and player value (see here for our role in trade for Paul Goldschmidt).

3-Year Contract with Army Research Office

Back in 2017, the US Army began a one-year contract with deCervo. We demonstrated that year our value to earn another year. After that, we were awarded another year of research work. By 2023, the US Army awarded us a 3-year research opportunity. As opposed to earlier work centered on baseball / softball, this effort would expand our research into domains using more complex visuals (like video). As a result, we were able to incorporate the team decision making of hockey officials (see here). Additionally, we could add the potentially more violent contexts of police decision into such research (see here).

As a whole, this 3-year effort would highlight the transition we have undertaken from being a company making baseball development products. It would highlight our broadening focus on decision contexts more appropriate and useful for the US Army and beyond.

Part 2 of deCervo at the deCade: Foundations of Police Training
100% of New NHL Officials are uCALL Graduates

At the start of the 2023-24 season, we were pleased to note the promotion of 5 officials to be full-time at the NHL. All 5 of these officials had used uCALL as part of their training (see here). They were part of earlier cohorts of officials contracted to the NHL, floating between there and the minor leagues of hockey (see case study here). These results have helped us garner attention from other hockey leagues. As a consequence, the IIHF, Deutsche Eishockey Liga and others have expressed interest in bringing these development results to their officials.

2024: Start To A New deCade [sic]

This completes our 3-part look at deCervo’s impact over the last 10 years. We wrap part 3 of deCervo at the deCade by looking ahead to what discoveries await us. Helping hitters in baseball and softball, we look ahead to new ways we will tune their synapses to hit better. The new product in 2024, uHIT Gameday (see video below), is the our latest way to do this.

Helping accelerate professional development in officials, we look ahead to ways we can help other leagues and partners to the NHL. In doing so, we will make the application of game rules more consistent. And as we help police officers, we look ahead to developing our approach to decision training when community safety hangs in the balance. We look forward to continued results with police academies (see Mar 2024 study here) as we expand our training with more officers.

The future of decision training driven by neuroscience is bright. And we intend to keep leading the way as we’ve done for the last 10 years.