In the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers lead the pack when it comes to using progressive ideas to help improve their team. They've assembled an impressive analytics team that has been ranked number one in professional sports, and created new positions like head of sports science, previously unheard of in professional basketball.
But on the other side of city, Temple's men's basketball program is employing a program that might even be foreign to the forward thinking Sixers.
The MindRight Pro program, developed by Temple graduate assistant and former Drexel basketball player Jake Rauchbach, helps athletes remove mental and emotional blocks in order to improve their performance and expedite injury recovery.
Despite all of the advancements in player training and rehabilitation, one of the few areas of a player's body that has been untapped is the unconscious mind, where the performance blocks can build up. These blocks can prevent an athlete from performing to their highest standard.
"These unconscious blocks are like muscle memory when you shoot a million jumpshots. When you have negative muscle memory, then you’re gonna have a hard time clearing that out if you don’t know how to do that," Rauchbach said.
To help remove those mental blocks, Rauchbach utilizes acupuncture philosophy and energy psychology to help the body regain its natural energetic flow. He became familiar with these different techniques through personal experience, and saw just how effectively it could be used.
"When I was a kid I had a chronic disease, and the disease caused me to experience emotional and physical blocks," he said. "So I went to traditional doctors and psychologists but nobody seemed to really help, so after that I went to non-traditional acupuncturists, chiropractic and other types of energy psychology practioniers which really helped. I organically created a process growing up and into college when I played to help me perform better and get over my illness."
Rauchbach realized that he could use this system to help other athletes, and when he got into coaching, he morphed the techniques he used as a teenager into the MindRight Pro program. Since its implementation in 2012, Rauchbach has worked with 40-50 collegiate and professional athletes.
He isn't just selling athletes a bill of goods either. Energy psychology has been utilized by many sports teams, including the St. Louis Rams, and MindRight Pro program just received validation from the medical community. Because the program is medically proven, it's no surprise Rauchbach has seen athletes who have gone through MindRight Pro perform at a higher level.
"Some guys there’s great progress, and sometimes there’s profound progress," he said. "Every person I’ve worked with has gotten better. The only way it wouldn’t work is if an athlete doesn’t buy in."
One of his most successful participants was former Temple point guard Will Cummings, who spent three years as a starter before graduating in 2015. "Leadership and court presence were our main intangibles we were working on with him," Rauchbach said about Cummings' goals. "He was timid -- wasn't a great leader for his first three years and early on last season. He knew he needed to become a better leader especially making the jump after the season was over."
After designing a customized program for Cummings, the pair met for 15 sessions over six weeks to improve his intangibles. Cummings saw immediate success on the court, raising his field goal percentage from 31% to 44% and his assist/turnover ratio from 1.41 to 2.35, which helped lead Temple to the NIT Semifinals.
"Jake really helped me prepare to play pro basketball," Cummings, now a member of the Houston Rockets, said in a testimonial. "[MindRight Pro] helped me feel like I can lead any team that I am on and raise my game and perform at a high level at all times".
While MindRight Pro has been utilized by athletes of various different sports, Rauchbach hopes to gear the program towards NBA teams.
"If you can help players in the lower and mid-level spectrum improve their performance without paying them more, imagine the tremendous value for NBA teams," Rauchbach said. "And that’s what this program can do, fast and consistently as opposed to traditional methods."
The statistical performance improvement results speak for themselves, and teams have already taken notice as to how helpful MindRight Pro can be. Rauchbach says he's heard from ten NBA teams, and has had "high level conversations" with half of them.
Just like how analytics took the league by storm, the use of energy psychology to help improve player performance is on track to be the next big thing to give NBA teams a leg up. Expect Rauchbach and the MindRightPro Program to hit the professional basketball ranks in the near future.