Genesis of the MVP

No Live tackling in practice

Buddy Teevens, Head Football Coach at Dartmouth College, has a very simple philosophy, which has led to dramatically better football teams:

1) No player will ever tackle a teammate in a live contact setting.
2) The fundamentals of tackling must be taught in controlled environments.
3) Simulate live tackling technique using mobile training devices, such as the MVP.

Watch Buddy in the video below discussing his philosophy of no live tackling in practice.  The video provides a few examples of drills that helped Dartmouth win the Ivy League Championship in 2015.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the MVP?
    The MVP stands for Mobile Virtual Player, the first ever self-righting mobile training device. Controlled remotely and powered by a motor, it’s an innovative training partner that can move at the speed of your opponent. With its size, which has been specifically engineered to replicate the weight and height of a college or pro player, the MVP can take a hit. By simulating human motion, the MVP allows players to practice tackling, blocking, pursuing, evading and throwing at a mobile target, without the impact and fatigue associated with athlete on athlete training.
  • How is the MVP used?
    The MVP takes player-to-player and helmet-to-helmet contact out of the equation for dynamic practice drills. Additional MVP models are under development to be used for football, rugby, on grass and on field turf, and for all ages and abilities. The MVP mobile training device can be incorporated into existing training drills, and its mobility and evasiveness lets you practice dynamic game situations that were previously unsafe – or even impossible - to practice effectively.
  • What is the history of the MVP and its development?
    In 2010 Dartmouth Football Coach Buddy Teevens instituted a no-tackling policy. The new policy ensured parents and players alike that a Dartmouth football player would never fully tackle another Dartmouth player over their four years at Dartmouth. The only time Dartmouth fully tackles is on game day. The introduction of this no-tackling philosophy allows players to remain healthier and fresher longer. As a result, the Dartmouth football team has seen a 50 percent drop in missed tackles, a better record, and an Ivy League Championship. Teevens also challenged and encouraged his (former) players who were also engineering students at Thayer School of Engineering to design a new mobile tackling device to address the problem. The MVP is a result of that challenge. The MVP debuted as the first moving non-human training device at the team camp’s opening day August 26, 2015. Today, Teevens uses multiple MVPs in his practices and is a pioneer of introducing a safer way of tackling and devising ways to practice without contact. Teevens is Chairman of MVP, LLC the recently formed start-up company responsible for designing the Mobile Virtual Player and other innovative technologies. On May 13, 2016, Teevens testified in front of congress at the Concussions in Youth Sports Prevention and Research hearing.
  • Are there risks associated with using the MVP?
    Yes, football is inherently a dangerous sport and there are still risks associated with using the MVP. Yet, after hundreds of hours of testing, there have not been any major injuries reported. The goal of the MVP is to reduce impacts and provide a safer training environment, and thus far, it has achieved that goal.
  • What was your best resource for starting MVP, LLC?
    The best resource for starting MVP has been the team of talented and committed people. They developed an idea into a product, and have the perseverance to constantly work to improve it. It’s important to add that a key element has been student-athletes who are both engineers and entrepreneurs, working in an environment where people and resources are readily available.
  • What has been the biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
    One of our biggest challenges has been to manage and balance early media exposure with the time-consuming and unglamorous behind-the-scenes engineering and testing of the MVP. Getting lots of media exposure (including Stephen Colbert tackling the MVP on the Late Show, ESPN, Washington Posts, and many more!) is a great benefit for a start-up company, but a lot of toil and sweat are required to get the product ready for a commercial rollout.
  • What about the MVP is so appealing to the masses and has led to an abundance of media exposure?
    While the interest in the MVP can be attributed to numerous factors, the integration of technology with athletics coupled with the awareness of health and safety aspects of sports, provide a great environment for our company and the products we are developing. Sports related concussions and more broadly, the well being of athletes at all levels, has become an increasingly controversial topic. Just as alarming to health and safety concerns is data indicating a decline in football participation rates. That said, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our sport where we need to embrace the need for changing the way the game of football is played (and practiced). MVP answers that call.
  • Who has tested the MVP?
    Dartmouth College was the first football team to test and practice with the MVP. It debuted as the first moving non-human device at the team camp’s opening day on August 26, 2015. This spring (March-May 2016), the MVP was beta tested by leading football programs at the high school, collegiate and professional level including: Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Central Michigan University, University of New Hampshire, Western Michigan University, Harvard University, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (FL), and Davenport University. The MVP was also tested by premier Rugby teams including USA Rugby’s Seven's Olympic Teams (Men's and Women's).
  • When will the MVP be available for commercial use? Where can it be purchased and what is the cost?
    The MVP will have a limited edition launch in August 2016 of its first mobile tackling dummies for commercial use. A more extensive commercial launch is planned for 1Q 2017. MVP has partnered with Rogers Athletic Company to license the technology for production and sales to the football market. The cost of the MVP is TBA and will be available for purchase through Rogers Athletic.
  • What does the future look like for MVP?
    We believe the road ahead holds great opportunity for MVP. As a company we are focused on meeting the demand for safer and more effective ways to train, coach and practice all sports. That demand is evolving and growing with improved understanding and broader awareness of how contact sports can affect players at all ages and levels. The MVP is an innovative and promising product that we want to have at the right place at the right time.