“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us …”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
It all started with a little green light.
On the first night of the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas, the San Antonio Spurs played the Charlotte Bobcats. As Spurs center Aron Baynes prepared to inbound the ball from the baseline, a small green light was visible, blinking steadily through the white mesh of his jersey.
First question: Is he a cyborg?
Second, more sensible question: Is that the biometric monitoring the Spurs have used in the D-League?
A stroll behind the bench confirmed every Spur had a small bulge, just between the shoulder blades, blinking green.
Fascinating. Mysterious. And as it turns out, loaded with potential: It’s part of a system that has led to a huge reductions in injury, and dramatic improvements in performance, in a professional league half a world away.
After the game, the Spurs communications staff opted to “politely decline” the opportunity to talk about the green light.
We learned from 48 Minutes of Hell’s Andrew McNeill that the Austin Toros — the Spurs’ D-League affiliate — were trying out some technology made by Catapult Sports.
“It’s a load meter and it’s a new sports science thing,” Toros coach Brad Jones explained to McNeill. “It’s like a vest you put on underneath [your clothes] and you wear it in practice and it keeps track of the energy you’re burning.”
The key term here is “load,” the aggregate energy put into and stress placed upon the body during athletic activity. In basketball terms, this may mean — according to the Catapult Sports site, which confirms the Spurs as clients — measuring “the speed of a shooting guard coming off a down-screen, the impact force of a center banging on the low block, or the total distance covered by a point guard over the course of a game, week or season.”
Was this what the Spurs were wearing? An article on the company by Forbes’ Alex Konradnoted that “[w]earable sensors are still banned in the U.S. during official game play.”
Konrad put us in touch with Catapult’s Gary McCoy who, it turned out, was in Las Vegas, ready and willing to sit down to talk about what Catapult Sports does.
An Australian company, Catapult Sports first began working with Australian Rules Football, and McCoy makes some impressive claims about the company’s effectiveness there. “Where we’re at with sports science in Australia,” he told Lynch, “is that we’ve reduced injury by almost 30 percent, and we’ve increased outputs by almost 25 percent.” These numbers come from the extensive injury research the Australian Football League conducts (see, for example, this 2012 report) and from the company’s own measurements of an increase in fourth-quarter speeds and accelerations. The net effect for these athletes has been to “extend and enrich a player’s career. That window is always closing on you, whether you’re a team or a player.”
The way McCoy talks about the company reflects Catapult Sports’ core mission: to maximize athlete effectiveness by minimizing injury and the deleterious effects of exhaustion. “We’re getting questions from one of the biggest profile [NBA] teams that has an aging athlete,” McCoy said. “And one of the questions coming from their training staff was, ‘Can we look at his physiological matrix and what makes up his exertion level and know that we might have to pull him every six minutes or so to sustain his output in the fourth quarter?’”
How to extend an aging athlete’s career is a vital question as teams work with players like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, but it can be just as important for younger players to start making the most of their bodies now.
The directions players move have a surprising amount to do with injury prevention. McCoy refers to this as asymmetry, and it’s something most basketball fans know: athletes often move better in one direction than the other. When someone says, “Force him left” or, “Don’t let him catch it on the right block,” this is what they’re talking about.
“It’s just like wheel alignment in a car,” McCoy said. “It impacts return to play [from injury]. We had a very prominent NBA player’s ACL rehabilitation we measured last year. Phenomenal athlete. Left ACL was the rupture.” Catapult is constrained from discussing its clients, but a survey of injury reports shows Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Ricky Rubio, Iman Shumpert, Nerlens Noel and Leandro Barbosa to be among those who have torn left ACLs in recent years. Rajon Rondo also suffered a partial tear. “And [the training staff] said ‘Based upon strength, we think he’s close to being ready.’ When they actually measured him with a Catapult device, they could see his accelerations to his right were at about a 60 percent deficit off of his left leg compared to what they were to the other side. And you can’t see this stuff with the naked eye.”
Injury rehabilitation has long been a dark art in professional sports, with players assigning whole number percentages to how ready they are based on feeling. Adding a level of precision to the measurement of strength and stress under different conditions isn’t the entire answer, but it’s still a step toward a clearer understanding of each athlete’s unique timetable for recovery. A player might feel 85 percent ready, but with what degree of confidence can that number be trusted?
Catapult can also help indicate when an athlete’s movements simply aren’t that efficient. There are players who expend a lot of energy on the court — the “hustle guys” — even if they’re not scoring. But what if they could do their job more efficiently? “I often refer to the Catapult monitor that we place on the athlete as ‘the little orange jockey,’” McCoy wrote in an email. “Take him for a nice ride,” he tells the athletes. “The more that unit is bouncing around — the less efficient the athlete’s movements are — the more it’s increasing their individual load.”
McCoy has worked with Toronto Raptors trainer Alex McKechnie and a player like Rudy Gay, whom McCoy cites as one who “appears to glide effortlessly,” gives the monitor a smoother ride. As a result, his total load might be less than another player, but it doesn’t mean he’s working less. He’s just doing his job with greater economy of movement. Of course, the Catapult monitor can’t tell you anything about Gay’s shot selection, but just as analytics confirmed strategies about the value of the 3-pointer or free throws, the system can help bring evidence to what trainers like McKechnie often sense intuitively.
Maximum fitness is the product of interlinked systems: the neurological and the physiological, the metabolic, musculoskeletal and nervous systems. So Catapult is gathering everything, from simple measurements like heart rate to more intricate ones like acceleration, direction of movement, stops and starts, and the associated force — more than 100 data points per second. It’s more than most teams can put to use — for now — and one of the key tricks is figuring out what, out of all that, matters most.
There are hurdles to this kind of monitoring coming to regular season NBA games. For instance, the players and their agents may have good reason to resist. Although McCoy stresses the data should always be applied to compare a player to himself, it’s not hard to envision teams wielding their findings during contract negotiations or when reducing a player’s minutes when it confirms the perception that he’s dogging it on the court. “It’s CARFAX for the athlete,” he said. A consequence of this system being fully implemented would be teams simply knowing a lot more when it comes to signing players or trading them to other teams.
So the Spurs have more than just their usual Spurs-ian reasons for keeping quiet on this. While four NBA teams are Catapult Sports clients (the Rockets, Knicks and Mavericks being the others), the monitors have generally been used only in practices and scrimmages. The Spurs’ use of the monitors at the Las Vegas Summer League is perhaps the closest the devices have come to actual league competition so far.
This kind of technology — especially when it’s not well understood — can be scary, even threatening to the established order of things. It can also dehumanize athletes, on a spreadsheet, a human appears to be an asset to be monitored and controlled from afar. A certain amount of skepticism, a concern for best practices, is well-founded.
But the information, new perspectives and, eventually, results this kind of monitoring can produce can break down resistance. The edge teams constantly look for doesn’t always come from the most likely sources. Biometric monitoring isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a logical next step, particularly when it comes to the most human of pursuits: keeping people healthy and functioning at their best. As McCoy said, “What we can measure, we can manage. If you can’t or aren’t measuring it, you can’t manage it. It seems really, really simple.”
Gatsby believed in the green light even though it was something he could never reach, maybe because it was something he could never reach. But that green light on Baynes’ back signals something different: that we can stretch out our arms farther and grasp a better understanding. That tomorrow, we will run faster.
The Monday Morning Quarterback
Tucked in the back of Connor Barwin’s uniform, between his shoulder blades, was a small black-and-orange gadget about the size of a hockey puck. Weighing just 30 grams, it contained a GPS, magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope that had just recorded his every movement on the practice field. But the Eagles linebacker would rather not talk about it.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to,” Barwin said, glancing around after an organized team activities session in May. “I don’t want to, like, give up secrets?”
On Chip Kelly’s Eagles this is the new normal. Science and technology are part of nearly everything the team does. But the why and the how are treated like classified information.
And so is the who—in this case, the man hired by Kelly to be the first “sports-science coordinator” an NFL team has ever had. His name is Shaun Huls, and his background—nearly five years as a performance coach for the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group 2—is as intriguing as his current job title.
Heads turned in February when Huls was listed in the announcement of the new coaching staff, and since then Kelly has taken care to preserve the mystery surrounding this aspect of his program. As training camp was set to open Huls had not yet been permitted to speak to the media, and The MMQB’s request for interviews with Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman about the sports-science initiative was turned down through a team spokesperson. At a press conference in June, Kelly would go only so far as to say that sports science is important because “what you do with your players is ultimately important.” He added, “I’d tell you I’m not a trendsetter by how I dress… We’re just trying to make our team better.”
The Eagles are not the only NFL team to lean on science and technology in their training; the Giants, Jaguars and Falcons are also among the league’s leaders in this area. And similar practices are ingrained in international sports such as soccer, since the frontline for much of the sports-science research and technology development is overseas in Europe and Russia.
But there is an unmistakable curiosity about what is taking place in Philadelphia. Perhaps it’s because of Kelly’s reputation as an innovator, or the tie to the military’s most elite warriors, or the fact that the up-tempo offense Kelly became known for at Oregon is presumed to place special physical demands on his players.
Or perhaps it’s because we want to see if thinking beyond the X’s and O’s can really help turn around a team that went 4-12 last season. No matter the reason, there’s a story to be told about what’s going on inside the walls of the NovaCare Complex, even if it’s not one the Eagles are ready to tell.
Change is the order of the day in Philly after Andy Reid’s 14-year tenure. Some of what Kelly has wrought is obvious. His frenetic practices are set to deafening music of all genres—Kanye West and AC/DC and banquet-hall favorite “Cha Cha Slide”—that blares onto South Broad Street. And his staff introduced personalized protein shakes—center Jason Kelce’s contains blueberries, avocado, 2% milk and vanilla protein powder—that players grab on their way off the practice field.
But remaking a program through the application of sports science is a bigger and more multifaceted undertaking. The premise is simple: Teams invest millions in players; why not devote significant resources, including a dedicated position on the coaching staff, to a cutting-edge approach that will help keep players on the field and maximize their performance? In mid-March, the Eagles began developing something of a sports-science laboratory. Team president Don Smolenski told thePhiladelphia Inquirer the team invested more than $1 million in equipment and technology upgrades this offseason. In keeping with the air of secrecy, the companies that provided the technology were reluctant to share specifics of how the Eagles are using their devices.
The array of technology creates a physiological dashboard for each player. Among the equipment: Catapult Sports’ OptimEye sensors, which Barwin was wearing; heart-rate monitors from Polar; an Omegawave system that measures an athlete’s readiness for training and competition; and weight-lifting technology from a company named EliteForm, with 3-D cameras that record not just how much an athlete is lifting but how quickly he is doing it. There is also the low-tech end: Players are asked to urinate in a cup before practice to check their hydration levels.
The result is a data-driven approach to training, which is compatible with and perhaps even necessary for the way Kelly coaches. In the up-tempo style he brought from Oregon—the Ducks averaged more than 81 offensive plays per game last season—players are perpetually on the move. Some sports scientists, like the University of Connecticut’s William Kraemer, say research does not support the perception that an up-tempo pace imposes extreme fitness and recovery demands. But even so, sports-science technology can play an important role in preventing overuse, overtraining and the often accompanying soft-tissue injuries.
“Everyone is saying that going at this pace, people are going to burn out,” says offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, “but they’re making sure we’re getting the rest we need to recover.”
The OptimEye trackers, of which the Eagles have about 55, record a player’s movements through the course of a practice, allowing coaches to quantify acceleration, agility and the percentage of time the player is running at max speed versus standing around. An incentive not to slack off? Sure. But this is also a way to determine how much stress a workout places on a player’s body.
Monitoring heart rate is another way to gauge training load, as well as how close a player is at any given point of his workout to maximum exertion. The Polar system generates post-workout recovery reports, with a timestamp for when an athlete can next handle more training. Mike Valentino, Polar’s national sales manager for team sports, says a Big East women’s soccer team saw a 75% decrease in soft-tissue injuries during its first season using the technology. And the Omegawave system uses an electrocardiogram transmitter and a pair of electrodes that tap into the central nervous system to measure stress, fatigue and capacity for aerobic or anaerobic exercise. Players can log into their personal computers to check their own fitness profiles.
But data means the most when there’s an expert there to understand and apply it, and that’s where Huls comes in. Says Barwin, “If you’re suddenly more sore than usual, or you start to feel an injury pop up, you can go check with him and see what your numbers look like for that practice, and see why.”
Teams are not permitted to use tracking devices on players during games, but an NFL spokesman said there have been discussions with “several companies” about a possible league-wide initiative for in-game tracking, something the CBA would allow for if the players union consented. Forbes reported in May that Catapult, whose NFL clients also include the Giants and Cowboys, is in those discussions.
Still, there are ways to mine data to analyze game performance. Last season Catapult helped one of its NFL clients compare practice data off the OptimEye sensors in weeks when the team won compared to those when it lost. A trend emerged: During Thursday practices before losses, offensive skill players were running a lot but not very quickly. “They were training them to be slow,” says Gary McCoy, Catapult’s U.S. sales manager. “When they saw that, what we were hearing on the phone was, ‘S—, we really messed this up.’ You get those ‘Wow’ moments.”
The roots of the Eagles’ sports-science program reach back to Lincoln, Neb., in the late 1990s. This was the golden era of Husker Power, the Nebraska strength and conditioning program that powered three national championships between 1994 and ’97. During that time three ambitious college students began working with the school’s athletic department.
One of the students was Shaun Huls. At Nebraska, his philosophies on training (a reliance on free weights and explosive work) and nutrition (the cafeteria line was reorganized to have healthy vegetables first and meats last) were honed.
Huls’s first chance to run his own strength and conditioning program was at Hampton (Va.) University in the mid-2000s. Joe Taylor, Hampton’s football coach at the time, considers Huls one of the best hires in his 40-year coaching career because of the way he transformed their training.
Huls timed players during their lifts, used diagnostic tests such as vertical jumps and shuttle runs to objectively track his players’ fitness, and reorganized the cafeteria line as at Nebraska—all practices he uses today in Philadelphia. Huls won the trust of the players, who gave him standing ovations at their athletic banquets.
Then came the really intriguing stuff: the nearly five years he spent training Navy SEALs at a military base in Virginia Beach. In August 2007 Huls, a civilian, became the first strength coach hired to work in the human performance program at Special Warfare Group 2. A practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he’s the type of trainer who wants to experience the demands on his athletes, so he would do seven-mile ocean swims or carry around the SEALs’ 70-pound backpacks to feel the strain on his body. His hiring was part of a push by the Navy to train SEALs smarter, so his most important challenge was to reduce the non-combat-related injuries that were taking highly trained operatives away from their units during wartime.
In early 2009 Huls and one of his colleagues at the Little Creek base spent about a week in Finland on a fact-finding mission. They logged some 1,500 miles driving from one sports-science institute to the next, picking the brains of some of the world’s top human-performance experts. Their guide was a man named John Underwood, a former international-level distance runner and Olympic coach who now runs a sport consulting firm called Life of an Athlete.
Huls met Underwood, who had studied in Finland for three years, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., and asked for his help in changing the way SEALs trained. “It was like a testosterone contest up until then,” Underwood says of the special forces training. “So we said, ‘OK, we’re going to find and set up a training regimen that’s all based on science and biofeedback.’ That was the beginning of it. Now, they’re changing the way they train pro football players.”
Indeed, Underwood was invited by Kelly to speak to the team during June minicamp.
Such a quest for knowledge is typical for Huls, those who know him say. He makes regular trips to the Postural Restoration Institute in Lincoln, Neb., studying a progressive approach for handling injuries based on the idea that the body is asymmetrical. He also missed part of Eagles minicamp away at a science conference. Huls has made a strong impression on people he has worked with for being humble, open-minded and going to great lengths to help others achieve their goals.
That has been the experience of Kelce, who worked with Huls nearly every day this offseason to rehab from last October’s knee surgery and was pleasantly surprised to be able to participate in some team reps during minicamp. But perhaps the most remarkable account of Huls’ impact is told by Robbie Stock, a retired SEAL.
Stock was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 when a grenade exploded inches from the left side of his body. After nearly a dozen surgeries he had no motor function in his left arm or hand, and surgeons recommended amputation. But Stock had other ideas and sought out Huls back on the Virginia Beach base. For several months Huls worked with Stock, using the Omegawave to determine when his battered body could handle exercise and inventing ways for Stock to train while his arm was mostly lifeless … and then when he regained movement in his biceps … and then when some function returned to his hand. Within a year of the explosion, Stock says, he could bench press 275 pounds, as much weight as he could before his injury; today he says he has 70% function in his arm and hand.
“Shaun was one of the very few people—and when I say few, I mean few—who actually believed I would not be a one-armed man for the rest of my life,” says Stock, whose new business, The Human Performance Initiative in Virginia Beach, uses many of the lessons he learned from Huls. “There are very few people out there who really want to help, and he is definitely one of them.”
The secrecy Kelly maintains is a bit ironic considering Huls came from a realm in which information actually is classified. When Huls would take groups of SEALs to train at the Colorado headquarters of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, led by Husker Power godfather Boyd Epley, there were clear guidelines. The SEALs could not be photographed, Epley recalls, and they had to remain anonymous. By extension, there are few pictures of Huls and little information online, other than the news of his hire by the Eagles and a snapshot and brief bio on the team’s website.
How did Kelly find his sports-science coordinator? The answer goes back to those three college friends at Nebraska. The second was Josh Hingst, now the Eagles’ head strength and conditioning coach. The third was James Harris, Kelly’s chief of staff at Oregon, who is now one of the coach’s top advisers in Philadelphia.
Now comes the next part of the story: How will the new approach translate to the season? Of all the questions the Eagles haven’t answered about their new program, this is the biggest. But however undercover Kelly’s program remains, the ultimate measure of its success will be no secret—it will be up there on the giant electronic scoreboard at Lincoln Financial Field, for all to see.
For the past calendar year the Buffalo Bills researched the most effective ways in which to monitor their players in practice. The goal was to develop a baseline of exertion rates to help prevent injury, especially during the rigors of training camp. The analytics company that was chosen was Australian-based Catapult, which for years has helped Australian Rules football clubs and soccer clubs in the English Premier League to monitor players in training.
Since the spring Buffalo’s strength and conditioning staff has been collecting data on their players all through the spring practices. It’s provided them with a preliminary database on each player heading into training camp.
“The number one goal of this system right now is trying to help prevent injury as well as help us with the rehab process,” said strength and conditioning coordinator Eric Ciano. “There are a lot of different things that goes into it, but the biggest thing is how can we monitor guys on the field to help us get the information? What do they really do at their position? How far does a receiver really run in practice? How fast does a receiver run in practice? Then create standards for each position group to be able to say, ‘Well this guy has done four days in a row in this (work rate) zone, this guy is at risk for injury.’ That’s the main reason we did it.”
Catapult’s system has provided the Bills with individual GPS tracking devices that capture measurable data on each player, such as acceleration and deceleration, change of direction, top speed and total distance run. The GPS devices, which are about the size of a pager, sit inside a pocket just below the neck line on the back of the undershirt each player wears under their pads.
“They talk about the distance you covered and the explosiveness and how fast you’re running,” said C.J. Spiller. “It’s a good device to have.”
After practice is over Ciano and his staff remove the devices from the players’ shirts and plug them into the docking station.
“We just catch them coming off the practice field and come back in,” said Ciano. “We dock all the units, download all the information into a computer and then we can break it down any which way we want.”
Ciano says there are anywhere from 50 to 100 variables that can be measured by the devices to provide information on how hard a player is working. The term used by the Catapult system is called ‘player load.’
“It’s a value of five different variables,” said Ciano. “There’s acceleration, change of direction, deceleration is different, but it basically is a measure of how hard that practice was for that individual athlete.”
Player loads that exceed 300 are considered high. Over 400 is very high. If days like that are repeated consecutively for individual players Ciano and his staff are required to make the coaching staff aware of it.
“If he’s had four practices in a row and his player load is through the roof and his distance is really high then we may have to say, ‘Hey coach we may have to careful with this,’” said Ciano.
Those with high player loads are more closely examined by the staff to determine the main source of the figure.
“We take that information and say, ‘Ok is there anything that stands out to us?’” said Ciano. “We monitor total distance, how far that guy ran that day. Then we can measure high intensity running. How much of that running was done between 12 and 16 miles per hour, 18 miles per hour and the total distance covered during that high intensity running.
“Then we have change of direction left and right. If a guy has more change of direction to the right than the left, we have to alter his training in the weight room. Also we have to find out during practice if we need to do something different where he’s always lining up on the left side of the formation instead of the right side where he’s creating some (muscular) asymmetry.”
For Ciano and his staff they need to communicate the information to the coaching staff, so everyone understands how practices for certain players might need to be altered.
“We want to be the link between the offensive and defensive coordinator and the special teams coach, so that with guys everybody kind of knows what’s going on,” he said. “That way you’re not wearing a player out and we’re not killing him where he eventually breaks. We now have a way to monitor those guys and everybody knows where everybody stands.”
C.J. Spiller is one player that covers a lot of ground during the course of practice. He wore the device in the spring and found a lot of his numbers interesting.
“I think the most I topped off at for total distance in a practice was close to 2,000 yards,” he said. “That’s a lot. You’re never out there thinking I’m covering this much. It’s a good program they’ve got. Top speed I think I hit around 18 or 19 (miles per hour). So it’s a good thing to have.”
Monitoring Spiller’s speed might not seem all that important, but when his top speed begins to drop it’s a tell-tale sign that his muscles are fatigued.
“We could say, ‘Hey C.J. has reached the point where he has exceeded the yardage that we had set for that day. The speeds are dropping,’” said Ciano. “That could put him at greater risk for a soft tissue injury.”
Typically wide receivers and defensive backs do the most running on average, but in the spring workouts rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso was right there with them in terms of player load.
“He’s a perfect example because he’s a guy that’s probably going to play on every special teams unit,” said Ciano. “He’s going to play a ton on defense and he’s a guy we’re going to have to monitor closely because of overuse and he has so much change of direction if you look at his numbers now. So he has to be a monitored guy.”
For the strength and conditioning staff their mission is two-fold. Not only are they using the data they can measure right now to adjust the workload of players in practice. They’re also laying a foundation for baseline numbers on all the players on their roster to use for other beneficial purposes down the line.
“It’s going to take probably a year’s time just because with a new offense, a new defense, the tempo of those are so great that you can’t just take somebody else’s numbers from another team or from another college and try to compare the two because you can’t,” said Ciano. “We have to make it specific to what we do individually. So we need to take that data and be able to create our own (database).”
That baseline data will also help in rehab situations. If an athletic trainer wants a player coming off injury to work at a rate of 50 percent of their maximum exertion, the strength and conditioning staff will have an exact figure to work with for that player.
The ultimate goal is to use the data gathered over the next year to help the coaching staff adjust practices to not only get their work done, but do it in a way that doesn’t overtax the players’ bodies to keep everyone healthy.
“In other countries with Australian Rules football and in England with soccer they use a lot of this information to design their practices,” said Ciano. “We’re not there yet, but our goal right now is to analyze data for a year, get as much information as we can, create great standards for each position group and be able to monitor the guys we have now and make sure we don’t have overuse injuries.”
“Guys took it with open arms,” said Spiller. “You don’t really notice that it’s back there. You’re just out there trying to get better.”
As we covered on Buffalobills.com today, the initial goal of the individual player GPS tracking being conducted by the Bills strength and conditioning staff with players in practice at training camp is to prevent injury from overuse on the field. It’s part of their analytic development.
There are also other benefits that the Bills will be able to take advantage of as they gather more data over the next calendar year.
Bills strength and conditioning coordinator Eric Ciano said there will be a benefit to the rehab process for players coming off of injury.
“We can specialize training for offseason, position guys, group to group,” said Ciano. ”The number one goal is to try to help prevent injury. Two monitor our players. It’s huge for our rehab too. For a guy that’s coming back when the trainer says, ‘We want him to work at 50 percent.’ Well if I know he’s a 20-mile per hour guy then that means 10 miles per hour. We can monitor that in real time on the computer right on the field or you can take it and download it after and see what speed and we went 1,000 yards today. Our goal tomorrow is 2,000 yards. We can monitor all that stuff.”
Still another benefit down the line is the data provided by the individual player GPS tracking could help the coaching staff structure practices that keep high workload players from being pushed too far for too many consecutive days.
“They can adjust practices maybe for certain guys,” Ciano said. ”In other countries with Australian Rules Football and in England with soccer and stuff they use a lot of this stuff to design their practices. That’s the ultimate goal, but our goal right now is to analyze data for a year, get as much information as we can, create great standards for each position group and be able to monitor the guys we have now and make sure we don’t have overuse injuries.”
FOR THE LIONS, GPS PLAYS IMPORTANT ROLE IN PREVENTING INJURY AS WELL AS HELPING WITH PLAYERS’ REHABILITATIONBy Catapult July 9th, 2013
The Irish Times
All has changed, changed utterly in the professional era. Any player with longevity can testify to that, no one more so than Brian O’Driscoll, who has completed a 12-year Lions cycle and is now back where he started, revisiting Australia. He reflects on how the Lions prepared and trained in 2001 and comes close to laughing.
A different sport? “It is,” he says simply, “a different existence from 2001. The level of detail we go to. We did a long season in 2001 yet were still going out and doing an hour, hour and a half, sometimes two-hour pitch sessions, sometimes twice a day. If I did that now I’d have died a couple of weeks ago. You couldn’t survive that, such is the intensity of the games. You can’t train like Tarzan and play like Jane. You’ve got to do it the other way round.”
Indicative of this more scientific approach is the advent of GPS (Global Positioning System). As with Munster and Leinster, along with Sports Institute of Northern Ireland, Canterbury Crusaders, the Welsh, Scottish and US Rugby Unions, Toulon, Montpellier, Brive, Northampton Saints, Cardiff Blues, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Lions employ Catapult Sports, the self-proclaimed ‘global leaders in athlete analytics’.
Catapult were the first company to use sports-specific GPS units on athletes after two founders, mechanical engineers Shaun Holthouse and Igor van de Griendt, started a project with the Australian Institute of Sport in 2004 on emerging micro technology that was to be employed in sports sensors. The two men formed Catapult in 2005.
“There’s not a sport I can think of that we haven’t worked in,” explains Boden Westover, Catapult’s media and marketing manager, “but football and rugby are our biggest sports.” US College sport is their biggest growth area.
The GPS units are little bigger than a match box, and are generally worn on compression tops inside a match shirt or training top, and on the T1 section of the spine at the top of the back, “because that spot receives the best GPS signal and also when you land heavily that part doesn’t hit the ground”, says Westover. “There’s never been an instance of a player getting injured or a unit breaking.”
Inside each device is a GPS receiver, and processes this to a computer on the sidelines or in the stands. The screen will have a map of the pitch and a dot represents each player, which determines speed and distance covered by each player.
“The devices also have three inertial sensors. One is an accelerometer, which determines movement and collisions. Another is a gyroscope, which determines whether you’re standing upright or leaning forward or backwards. The third is magnetometers, which is an advanced compass to determine the athlete’s direction.”
There’s no hiding place any more. “The information can determine how hard a player is working,” says Westover.
Its main benefit, however, is injury analysis, both preventative and helping with rehabilitation. “GPS and inertial systems can be set up with individual alarms so that if a player reaches a certain threshold it will flash red, and coaches will know straight away that they need to get that guy off,” adds Westover.
For a country of just more than 20 million people, Australia boasts an impressive sporting legacy. Individuals frequently top international podiums in cycling, swimming, and track and field, while its national teams challenge for titles as well. The nation’s basketball squads are perennial overachievers and the men’s soccer team looks set to reach a third straight World Cup. On the all-time Summer Olympic medal count, Australia sits 10th, sandwiched between China, which is enormous, and East Germany, which was cheating.
The success leads to the impression that all Australians are massive monoliths of muscle and might, physical specimens engineered from before birth to dominate whatever sport they choose to adopt. And that’s not an entirely inaccurate portrait. Walk the streets of Melbourne or hit up Bondi Beach just outside of Sydney, and you’ll find athletic bodies everywhere. Sport is in their blood.
But there’s another, more subtle reason for the Australian success: the country’s focus on sports science. The men and women in the Land Down Under have become world leaders in maximizing performance through the use of trackable, sortable, actionable data.
The development is very intentional, a move that has its roots in one of the country’s biggest sporting failures. Over the past 15 years, it has changed the face of athletics in Australia, and it’s starting to have the same effect in the United States.
At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Australia won just five medals and failed to bring home a gold for the first time since Berlin in 1936. The embarrassment prompted the creation of the Australian Institute of Sport, a government-funded organization dedicated to assisting and advancing the elite Australian athlete.
The influx of cash providedscholarships and training for the country’s best and brightest. It worked. In 1984, just three years after the AIS debuted, Australian athletes won four gold medals and 24 overall at the Los Angeles Games.
Today the organization has a staff of 190, including a massive sports science program with more than 50 scientists working on everything from sports nutrition and performance analysis to physiology, recovery, and biomechanics. There are also huge sports science programs at many of the institutions of higher education, a result of the country’s focus on the discipline and a coordinated effort to improve. “There’s been a little shift. The AIS is working with athletes on a day-to-day basis, while the universities are doing research,” says Kevin Netto, a lecturer in physiotherapy at Curtin University in Perth.
Sports science is in the professional ranks as well, with every Australian Football League team having an affiliation with a practitioner, a university, or both. (The sport also has its own PED scandal resulting from one of these men.) “It grew out of trying to get a competitive edge.
In Australia, most of the money is relatively even so teams don’t have the facilities, which are a competitive advantage in some ways,” says James Hanisch, the former head of sports science with the Brisbane Lions. “The question became ‘What can we spend the money on and how can we utilize it the most?’”
Hanisch knows a thing or two about excellent facilities. He left the AFL team after Chip Kelly recruited him to help with the football program at the University of Oregon. Kelly left for the Philadelphia Eagles, but Hanisch stayed and now runs the school’s sports science program. He is one of the first wave of Aussies to move to the U.S. to work in the discipline, and he believes more will follow as their services are increasingly in demand.
People and brainpower are not the only Australian sport science assets finding their way to the U.S. Catapult is one of the companies making a major push into America, and itfeatures clients including the Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, and Detroit Tigers. Forbes recently highlighted the company’s OptimEye system technology, which includes wearable sensors that report speed, distance, and other information, and costs an average of $100,000 per year.
The sensors are currently banned during games — talks to allow this are ongoing — but coaches and scientists can learn from data gathered during practice.
New technology, of course, breeds resistance, and there’s a bit of a Moneyball narrative developing. Some organizations or specific actors within an organization are reluctant to trust that sports science can have any value. “It’s a challenge to change minds from one mind-set to the other,” Hanisch says. “But if they want it, I reckon they will jump pretty quickly.”
Michael Regan, a product development manager for Catapult, had similar experiences when trying to sell Catapult’s services in the U.S. “We found two schools of thought: (1) I’m not interested, or (2) let’s hear what you do and let’s go for it. There wasn’t much middle ground,” he says.
Eventually, however, most teams find that the science and data provided by the products adds value. “It starts with heart rate because everyone understands that to a degree. As it evolves out, [coaches and management] realize that gives them a good picture, but it doesn’t give them the whole picture. They start to look for more ways to maximize athlete performance,” Regan says.
“One of those is to be able to measure on-field performance and on-field workload. The obvious reason for that is to assess performance. The less obvious one is that by assessing what the guys do on the field, you get a better idea of their workload and stress levels. You can actually mediate your prescription of practice and game time to make sure you’re getting the most out of a player.”
(Another reason for the slower adoption in the U.S.: The sheer number of exceptional athletes in America. Regan again: “If one guy doesn’t cut it, teams can always find another. Down here in Australia, we don’t have LeBron Jameses popping up. We have skinny white guys, so we have to maximize each of our athletes.”)
In the end, the constant search for minuscule advantages wins. But it does mean that new research and breakthroughs will continue coming from Australia, where sports science is more of a collaborative effort, than from the U.S., where teams will attempt to make any breakthroughs proprietary.
“In Australia, it’s very cliquey. Everyone knows everyone in the industry. You hear about different approaches and research. Teams there don’t have a lot of money, so they can’t rely on doing their own testing and research,” Hanisch says. “Here [at Oregon], we’re trying a whole bunch of stuff. We don’t want to give that to our competitors. We want to keep it close-knit. We even tell players that when they go other places they can’t tell people what we are doing. It stems the flow of research.”
Of course, that only works for so long. “There are players leaving every year. It’s the same with pro sports. You only get one or two years before everyone knows about it and the competitive advantage is done,” Hanisch says.
When the New York Knicks’ 40-year-old point guard, Jason Kidd, returned from injury this season, the team used a little digital helper to verify that he was up to par. Trainers attached to his jersey a matchbook-size GPS device loaded with sensors to track his acceleration, agility and force. With a benchmark reading set in the preseason, the team got the numbers it needed to clear him to play.
Motion-tracking cameras and super slo-mo video analysis have become standard tech toys in the pro sports trainer’s toolbag . Now comes the OptimEye, a wearable sensor out of Australia that’s being sold as a way to squeeze even more performance out of expensive athletes.
It’s made by a privately held firm called Catapult Sports that already has contracts with 250 programs in Australian and European pro soccer, national rowing programs, rugby and Aussie-rules football (proving it can take a hit).
Catapult has deals now with 5 NBA teams and 6 in the NFL, recently signing the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, with another 12 expected to sign before football season starts in September. “I realized after spending a season in the NBA that there was no real analysis of what the players did in training, and I was quite shocked,” says Dave Hancock, former training coach for Chelsea FC, now with the Knicks. “GPS had been used in the Premier League for the last eight years.”
The OptimEye system works by fitting a small ‘bug’ sensor unit in a player’s jersey on their upper back around the T1 vertebra, which then tracks the athlete’s place in 3D space.
Accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes not so different from what you’d find in an iPhone track gravitational load, distance and direction data. Unlike your phone though, Catapult then isolates the data using filters to pinpoint an athlete’s exact direction for each acceleration or step. For indoor tracking, Catapult deploys internal stadium antennas to pick up frequencies from athletes in real time, giving an indoor GPS-type solution for hockey and basketball teams without satellite help.
Catapult charges teams an average of $100,000 per year, which gets them regular upgrades and analytical software. The sensors had to be designed to keep track of multiple athletes moving at once and to work indoors.
The seven-year-old firm has been profitable for three years and expects to gross an estimated $20 million this year. With its current global push CEO Shaun Holthouse expects sales to cross the $100 million mark in three to four years and go even higher if Catapult can start selling its data to broadcasters eager to divulge fun facts such as which linebackers hit the hardest or which NBA scorers have the quickest first step. Wearable sensors are still banned in the U.S. during official game play. The NFL says it’s in talks with Catapult but declined to comment further.
In the meantime, teams will continue to use them in practice and rehab drills and compare the results with biomedical data to get a complete picture of athletic performance. The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars had their players answer questions about emotions and sleep habits and referenced the responses against OptimEye data to prove that players perform significantly better on more sleep–a warning to rookies not to hit the clubs at night.
Catapult’s competition will eventually include Adidas’ wearable devices, but the smaller firm is more immune from brand battles with teams getting paid to wear Nike. The company also faces some competition from the video technology offered by STATS SportVU, which is allowed to track regulation games. Catapult sees such systems as complementary: they provide some tactical information but have a harder time tracking motion that doesn’t result in visible movement, like the acceleration on a quick jab step, or the force exerted in a contact play.
Catapult cofounders Holthouse and Igor van de Griendt incubated their sensor idea with funds from Australia’s national sports science lab. The thin Aussie venture capital community showed little interest, so the founders bought the technology back and bootstrapped along with the help of a state grant.
The production process is vertically integrated, with design and final assembly in Australia and some mid-stage manufacturing in Asia. Chairman Adir Shiffman has a software background and says the company manages all its analytics software in-house.
With NFL teams flocking to the technology, the company can set its sights on hockey, baseball and even high school sports in the future. (Catapult already lists the Detroit Tigers as an early adopter client.) To fuel that expansion, the company is currently going for an estimated $10 million investment round.
“This isn’t a normal job,” says Holthouse. “We want to feel we have fundamentally changed elite sport for the better.”
The Catapult team are busy developing a revolutionary new analytics platform that seeks to integrate user needs within the tactical, technical and physical aspects of athlete and team performance. Driving this overhaul of the combination of the new hardware and software in the coming months is Product Development Manager Michael Regan.
A Sports Scientist who spearheaded Catapult’s sales approach in the US last year, Regan’s new role will be as the middle-man between Catapult and its clients with the approach to find out exactly what users want and deciding the direction of the technology based on feedback and desires.
Regan says his new role will be an exciting one for athlete analytics.
“I’m excited to help drive what we do and how we do it, and how that influences the user experience,” Regan said. “Instead of us pushing stuff out to the user, we’ll let them have more of a say by manipulating some of the great innovations we come up with in-house to make everything more user friendly and usable. We’re really trying to hash out the end-case for our clients”.
Regan will also bring a lot of research to the product development by understanding the direction teams are headed with their enhancement needs and pulling together different experiences from around the world that they may not have even seen yet.
“You go to Collingwood and they start talking about one thing and it might tenuously link to something the Dallas Cowboys are doing and what West Bromwich Albion are doing, and can we put it all together to make something that does not only what they want but opens their eyes up to something they may not have thought of yet”.
“Things like specific algorithms for specific movements and correlating data between team performance and measures of outcome performance. The Australian and European way has traditionally been to isolate the physical and technical, whereas the American way is to drill in on the tactical and technical and ignore the physical, whereas there is a middle ground in there somewhere that no one is exploiting properly yet, and I think we can really help users to do that”.
Seeking to integrate the triad of performance – the physical, tactical, technical – Catapult will soon release an entirely new software platform which will feature iPhone and iPad applications.
“I think the use of the iPad app will be great for teams to have multiple users linked in and looking at the same data. So the coach can be looking at the same thing as the strength and conditioning coach, but then with the swipe of a button going back to what he wants to be looking at. Being able to customise the user experience over multiple devices, and easing the flow for a pressure environment”.
One of the key features of the new software will be its emphasis on graphical interfaces, the easy comparison between players, sessions and seasons, and being able to easily customise your own measures and metrics. Setting up templates will result in customised reporting that is literally one-touch.
“So you set up a report that addresses certain parameters, then you can email one version to the coach, one version to the trainer etc. You set that all up and then with one click at the end of practice you’re done”.
“The iPhone application will allow teams to streamline workflow during a session, as well as having multiple layers of analysis. Being able to periodise a session in real time and while roaming the sidelines, then being able to actually see athlete data on the iPhone”.
With an initial release of the new platform planned for the middle of 2013, Regan is looking beyond the release to an all-encompassing athlete analytical tool.
“Once this big innovation is done, my job will be to streamline the whole experience to becoming really focused so if a team wants to look at X, Y and Z I’ll find a way to work it out with them. Also facilitating links between our clients. Bridging the communication gap between teams in allied sports for mutual benefit.
My role will be trying to keep ahead of the curve a little, taking what the NFL is doing, the AFL, gymnastics or whatever and coming up with new parameters and new analysis points”.
Catapult are in the midst of developing specific algorithms for football goalkeepers, incorporating complex mathematics from the informative Inertial Movement Analysis (IMA) designed for measuring micro-movements like changes of directions, accelerations, decelerations and jumps.
Football teams around the world are already using IMA to take their performance analysis to the next level, understanding the benefits of the innovative approach to measuring what can’t be detected with GPS and video technologies. But with the movement of goalkeepers being so unique compared to a team’s midfielders and strikers, Catapult clients have helped provide valuable feedback to address a specific algorithm for the specific position.
This advanced form of sports science will further expand on IMA applications by utilising a complex series of algorithms to isolate movement from gravity, which all never-before-seen insight in to the small, powerful movements required to be an elite goalkeeper. Unique movements like diving, jumping, repeat high intensity actions and, of course, reaction times, are all vital skillsets of a goalkeeper, and cannot currently be measured on the field with any available technology.
Piggybacking off Catapult’s experience with dozens of football programs around the world, the goalkeeping algorithm will be the first of many specified approaches to performance analysis on the cards in the coming months – with specific algorithms for Australian Rules football kicking, American football quarterback movements, and baseball pitchers all in early development.
Intertwined with the current work being done with goalkeepers is the kicking algorithm currently being devised by Catapult’s Product Development Manager in conjunction with its team of mechanical engineers.
The core of the Catapult system is a wearable sensor package that tracks and radios precise body position data on a working athlete to a base computer. The system gets its precision from the many sensors in the package:
• A GPS sensor (that works far better outdoors than indoors)
• An accelerometer that measures the force associated with an athlete’s movement
• A gyro sensor that measures rotational displacement and a magnetometer
• A compass, that measures directional vectors and validates rotational movements
The package, a little larger than an apple core, weighs a few ounces and hides in the pocket of a snug-fitting under-jersey.
Data from the Catapult system relevant to injuries comes in two forms. Over time, once a baseline value has been established, the data can indicate when a player is fatigued and show patterns which differentiate between fatigue associated with improving fitness and fatigue associated with overuse. Athletes recovering from injury can see clearly if they apply equivalent and balanced forces when playing, running, jumping and cutting, or if they are favoring the non-injured shoulder/arm/hip/leg/foot.
Catapult was developed by sports scientists at the Australian Institute of Sport and has been used widely for the last six years by Australian Rules Football teams. (Catapult U.S. headquarters are in Atlanta.) League-wide the teams share data and study the results, according Catapult’s Gary McCoy, leading to not just significantly fewer injuries but also more plays per game.
The system tells coaches how far and how fast athletes have moved throughout a practice. (Universally as far as I can tell, leagues disallow the systems during games.) The system also distills a player’s work to a single number that reflects cumulative effort — PlayerLoad. PlayerLoad is compatible with other measures of athlete effort that come from heart-rate monitors, from SportVu game-tracking or from simply asking players how they’re feeling at a given time. It all goes into the big database that Catapult enables. “We create a dashboard for coaches to see their athletes and how they’re working,” said McCoy.
It’s a versatile tool that teams look to for changing culture. McCoy also told me how one unidentified NBA team that uses Catapult (Celtics, Mavericks, Rockets, Knicks, Spurs are customers listed on the company website) decided to post PlayerLoad numbers on the wall after practice. The team was concerned about the loafing going on during practice and felt well-informed peer pressure could help.
Catapult’s athlete analytical data has moved from the secrecy of locker rooms around the world into the public spotlight of a live AFL broadcast on Channel 7, with a flawless set-up paving the way for futher involvement in physical and tactical data made available to the informed sports fan.
Engaging with Channel 7 and Fox Footy late last year, a deal was made a mere five business days before the Round 2 Carlton and Collingwood clash to provide data on a forward, back and midfielder. Channel 7’s strategy was to keep the process experimental and not build up publicity around it – basically feed in the data and see how it goes.
Scott Pendlebury, Travis Cloke and Alan Toovey were named as the three players whose data would be published as part of the broadcast, which didn’t prove to be any different than every other AFL game as every team is wearing the units anyway – it was merely a case of knowing the unit identification of the three nominated players.
Catapult Business Development Manager Paul Dear said that the only roadblocks were understanding the responsibilities for different areas of the MCG.
“We weren’t sure where to put the receivers,” Dear said. “We also saved ourselves some stress by doing a trial run with Richmond versus St Kilda on the Friday night where we went through all the processes but didn’t put anything to air.
“But Channel 7 were really happy with how it went and we got the call to do the Collingwood and Hawthorn Round 3 game as Collingwood were happy to continue being part of the experiment”.
The next stage in the development will be to include ball tracking technology in to the equation to access the tactical analysis side of broadcasting, with data for an iPad second-screen application not far away.
Season 2013 will certainly be an experimental year for broadcasting athlete analytical data, but stay tuned for developments in Catapult technology providing revolutionary information for sports fans.
Kentucky Sports Radio
Kentucky’s athletic teams are no strangers to technology. From Coach Cal and his heart monitors to the soccer teams and Prozone’s performance analysis system, we’ve seen evidence that coaching strategy is moving past simple X’s and O’s on a chalkboard. And as a client of athletic analysis tech company Catapult Sports, Kentucky may be well-positioned to be on the forefront of the latest technological innovations in college athletics.
To recap, the soccer teams acquired Prozone 3 to use in the soccer stadium this past fall; eight to twelve cameras are installed in the soccer stadium and used to track player and ball movement. The data is sent to a computer program and compiled into a 2D animation that allows coaches and managers to examine the team as a whole or position-by-position, including distribution maps, video clips, and a 2D recreation of the game.
Calipari, meanwhile, famously used heart monitors this winter to keep track of players’ exertion rate, sport zones, caloric expenditure, and heart rate during practices. With that information, Calipari and his staff were able to judge how much effort players were giving in practice and help the players adjust accordingly.
In fact, High Performance Coordinator Erik Korem, who has been spearheading the football team’s player development and training in Mark Stoops’ first off-season, endorses Catapult products on their website: “You simply couldn’t measure the work rate of today’s football team without these tools. In a game where the margins for success are measured in inches, I’ll take that kind of advantage.”
Jon Lipsitz, Kentucky’s women’s soccer coach and a self-described “absolute geek about sports science,” speaks glowingly about Korem’s value within Kentucky’s athletics department. Korem, who is currently in Australia (where sports science is much bigger than it is in the United States), set Lipsitz up with a colleague at the Seattle Sounders professional soccer club who is the foremost sports scientist for soccer. Lipsitz was able tomeet with researchers at Nike Sparq, the advanced training sports science division of Nike, and learn more about the latest technology and how to use it properly.
“Sports science is already huge in Australia, New Zealand, and England- and it’s coming here next,” noted Lipsitz.
And what specifically is next on the horizon? GPS technology. In an article on Business of College Sports last week, Mark Burns argued that GPS technology could be “the next big thing” in college sports. Catapult Sports has engineered a way to use GPS tracking to monitor athletes’ performance:
For student-athletes to utilize the software, OptimEye tracking “bugs” are worn by players in a tight-fitted jacket, with monitors being analyzed on the sidelines by athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches; the tracking technology monitors 20 unique metrics such as acceleration speed. Additionally, it allows coaches to make decisions in real time, and it also gives them a full picture of how hard their student-athletes are working and what it’s doing to their bodies.
“The biggest value is to get that inside information on each individual athlete,” Gatz said. “You can get stuff that you wouldn’t normally see just by standing on the sidelines — the heart rates, the load production, that type of stuff during the course of a match.”
According to Lipsitz, the biggest benefit of having all this information is the ability to predict and thus prevent injury.
“It’s great to see the workload that people do. What the GPS units give you is how much of their work and total distance is high intensity- acceleration, deceleration, stuff like that. Let’s say in a soccer game, we have a kid who runs seven miles in a game. Seven miles isn’t seven miles. How much is sprinting or decelerating? That information is going to lead to decoding muscle soreness and injury.
“One of the huge things about using heart rate monitors, GPS, sports science in general- injury correction. Coaches can look at players’ information and see the load they’ve taken, especially decelerations which are very hard on your body. You can see when they’re about to be injured and pull back on training for a couple of days.”
Building a smarter and healthier athlete doesn’t stop at GPS tracking inside stadiums and practice facilities. Catapult also asks players to answer questions about emotions, sleep habits, and diet to give the teams specific performance enhancement lifestyle strategies (an unsurprising find? Players perform significantly better with a solid night’s sleep. Tin Roof visits should be kept to a minimum during the season, it seems).
There’s no denying that the cost is steep- Catapult charges teams an average of $100K to utilize its software, a package that includes regular upgrades and analytical software. However, the results are backed up by research that shows how tracking technology is improving athlete’s performances (agility, speed, acceleration, force, and more) while decreasing injuries by monitoring muscle fatigue levels over the season. And as a big name athletics school with an AD who is incredibly supportive of these innovative endeavors, Kentucky is in a great position to take advantage of this technology.
“I’ve never seen an administration that is so supportive doing whatever we need to do to make sure our student athletes are treated properly and well, and giving our guys everything possible to compete at the highest level,” gushes Lipsitz. “If there’s something that’s going to help our athletic program, Mitch wants to hear about it. He’s very special that way.”
Speaking of advantages of this technology, let’s think about this one: recruiting. High school students these days are more attuned to technology than ever before; hell, reading over Kentucky athletes’ tweets, I don’t recognize half the apps they’re referencing (I’ve barely got a hold on Vine. And what on earth is Kik?). So including state-of-the-art technology in recruiting pitches seems like a no-brainer, right up there with spotless facilities and elite coaches.
Sure, some might argue this is just another notch on the bedpost for the haves of college athletics- one more advantage to separate the big and rich schools from the others. Lipsitz, however, doesn’t see it as significantly different from any other advantage schools with money have.
“Schools with money have a better opportunity to do things with academic support, nutrition, travel, in every way. It’s just one of the other advantages.Another great thing about Mitch, he’ll say if it’s important and the student athletes need it, we’ll get it, but we’re still practical about how we spend our money. I think everything that we do that is special and innovative and advanced is very helpful with recruiting.”
Although cost seems like the obvious disadvantage, teaching coaching staffs how to correctly use the technology will be key in terms of how successful teams are. If staff doesn’t know how to use the information correctly, a $100,000 investment will ultimately be worthless.
“Just because you have stats in front of you doesn’t mean you know how to use it properly,” warns Lipsitz. “You can have every statistic in the book about someone’s movement and recovery. How you use it properly is the challenge.”
(Hear that, Jonathan Schuette? You’re VERY employable)
Burns argues that some coaches will resist the technological advancements- apparently, some old dogs won’t want to be taught new tricks. Sure, maybe it seems like we’re inching closer to the bionic athlete, but would any coach with a strong thirst to win ignore potentially game-changing technology?
When I asked Lipsitz his thoughts on this argument, he laughed, saying “I heard a joke on my trip out west: ‘If you’re a sports scientist and you get hired by an NFL team, get ready to be fired by the end of the season.’ If a coach is old school, the last thing they’ll want to hear is that a player is going to be pulled out of training because a computer told us they’re likely to get injured. It goes against the old school ‘work them to the bones’ mindset. Resistance comes from ‘this is new, it’s something that’s being shown on a computer screen and paper.’
“It’s no different than how it took me quite awhile to convince my mom to text. But once she realized how quickly she could get in touch with my sister and my by texting, she loved it- but it took her two years to do it. That’s an example of how difficult it is to get new technology into a situation that works.”
Unless it’s Bob Knight making a return to the sidelines, I believe that coaches will be open to this new wave of technology- if it’s presented correctly and if they learn how to use it properly. Athletic departments facing this predicament will have to find ways to make the information appealing to coaches, presenting the data with lots of colors and graphs rather than just black and white printouts of straight information.
With technology such as Catapult’s becoming more widespread and available to college teams, coaches would be unwise not to at least experiment with the units as a way to better understand their athletes in practice. And as we all know, you practice the way you play; more efficient practices will translate into game time decisions and ultimately, more wins. It can’t be overstated how fortunate Kentucky is to be a financially secure school with the ability to procure these coveted units- and how exciting it is to have coaches and staff who are ready to embrace the future of practice.
Bottom line it for us, Coach Lipsitz:
“In the end, the team that uses this technology properly will have lower injuries and higher success. No doubt about it, that’s what will happen.”
Can I FINALLY throw in a “Catapult”-ing into the future pun? UK, welcome to the robot family.
Moving beyond traditional GPS data analysis, Catapult has progressively encompassed athlete analytics as a whole to tell you everything about a player’s movement. Just like a Formula 1 car is meticulously monitored at every stage of production and competition, a team’s athletes are its greatest asset and an area that has gone lacking prior to Catapult’s inception.
Just using GPS data to measure athlete performance would be like Ferrari just monitoring speed and distance. It is the complex information provided by the inertial sensors inside a Catapult device that mean the difference between measuring the impact force of a tackle and confusing a tackle with a device being dropped on the ground.
This complex information is a result of accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes and is processed with an advanced algorithm to provide Inertial Movement Analysis (IMA) – a simple way of expressing the most complex athlete movements.
IMA was developed by Glenn McIntosh, a Firmware Engineer who worked with eventual Catapult founders in the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC), with the aim to put acceleration data in to a real world reference frame that wasn’t relative. Because of the chaotic and unpredictable nature of sports, monitoring the movement of a small unit is dependent on many factors, and removing these individual variables to provide real references ensures measurements will be the same for every athlete.
By combining the data provided by the accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes, and running it through a Kalman filter (a linear filter for multiple sensors), you can optimise how much noise is on the filters and determine the best parameters. This removes the variability between athletes, or between how the unit is worn – because it is set to a reference frame, it doesn’t matter how the unit is worn – which means you can derive parameters that can be compared between different people’s measurements, providing testability.
Accelerometers are vital in this process as they measure gravity and give you both a measure of your orientation and a measure of acceleration. But in order to accurately measure an athlete’s acceleration, you need to remove gravity from the equation. This is done by utilising information from the gyroscopes, which determine orientation and explain the direction of the gravity.
Over the long term accelerometers tell you the absolute orientation, while gyroscopes tell you how much it has changed. From that you can work out your orientation, and absolute information regarding directional analytics.
As a whole, IMA tells you your actual orientation and then you can work out which direction gravity is and subtract it from the accelerometers. What you’re left with is pure acceleration data.
Catapult is the only system in the world with activated gyroscopes, can provide directional analytics (forwards, backwards, sideways), and accurate acceleration information. Without IMA, all references to accelerations are relative to the player, sport and environment.
Dr. Tim J. Gabbett of Australian Catholic University’s School of Exercise Science has released a research paper titled ‘Quantifying the Physical Demands of Collision Sports: Does Microsensor Technology Measure What It Claims to Measure?’ Dr. Gabbett found that “a strong correlation was observed between collisions recorded via Catapult units and those coded from video recordings of the event.
These findings demonstrate that only one commercially available and wearable microtechnology unit can be considered capable of offering a valid method of quantifying the contact loads that typically occur in collision sports. Until such validation research is completed, sport scientists should be circumspect of the ability of other units to perform similar functions”.
Read study here.
Due to the unit orientation on an athlete being at an angle and the chaotic movements of elite sport, it is extremely difficult to measure micro-movements of athletes with accuracy. Speed and distance, measured using GPS technology, are good indicators of an athlete’s workload, but the majority of movements in competition are explosive changes of direction, vertical leaps and sudden stops.
Inertial Movement Analysis (IMA) is the first advanced algorithm to accurately measure these important movements.
Perfect for indoor sports that traditionally can’t access speed and distance data, or for supplementing existing outdoor data, IMA provides the ability to quantify performance in acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, running and jump height and frequency for every sport, without the need for satellites.
Using GPS technology to compare an athlete running wind sprints with an athlete running laps of a field, you will get very similar data in terms of ground covered and high speed reached. To determine who worked harder and the load on the athlete’s body, accelerometers are used to measure the orientation of the body, and gyroscopes are used to measure the tilt.
Combining accelerometer and gyroscope data and removing the effect of gravity on the athlete, IMA uses an advanced Kalman filter to track athlete performance and corrects for orientation irrespective of unit positioning – a revolutionary approach to sport science.
Traditionally, heart rate and PlayerLoad data were the only physical parameters available for indoor sports, but with the ability of IMA to measure acceleration, deceleration and change of direction and with your ability to determine interval bands to provide insight into game intensity, sports like basketball and ice hockey finally have the technology to provide in-depth movement analysis.
The unique ability of IMA technology to give greater insight into the advances in athlete power and force production have meant that metrics never used before with jumps monitoring are providing measures of fatigue and performance decrement. Thus, by measuring every change of direction and jump an athlete performs, IMA can determine when an athlete will fatigue and how previous explosive movements will affect future micro-movements.
Catapult has exploded out of the blocks in season 2013 across the European market, adding some very valued signings to the ever-expanding Catapult team. Following the opening of the London-based European offices, European Manager Steve Oosterhof and his team of sports scientists have been busy demonstrating athlete tracking technology to a growing list of formidable sports powerhouses.
Already working with over 200 elite sporting teams and institutes around the world, Catapult are pleased to welcome the below programs to the global leader in athlete analytics.
Currently the fourth-ranked team in the Netherlands, Vitesse (French for ‘speed’) played in the UEFA Europa League in 2012/13 and compete in the reputable Eredivisie.
The 2012 runner-up in the Allsvenskan (Swedish First League), the Swedish professional football club played in the UEFA Europa League last year.
IF Elfsborg FC
The 2013 Allsvenskan Champions, IF Elfsborg FC have won six national championships and two national cups.
A founding member of the La Liga in 1928, the Spanish football club won back-to-back titles in the 1980s and are currently sitting fourth in the La Liga standings.
Swedish National Football Team
Currently ranked number 21 in the world, with a placing as high as second, the Swedish National team have appeared in five World Cups and five European Championships.
University of the Basque Country
With impressive campuses in three provinces and over 45,000
students, the University IVEF Spain is the dominant research institution in Northern Spain.
Copenhagen Centre of Team Health and Sport
With experts in research, communication and teaching, the Copenhagen Centre of Team Health and Sport create effective and motivational training from a health perspective.
Norway National Rowing Team
With Olaf Tufte leading the way with his gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Norway National Rowing Team is one of the world’s best on the water.
Swedish Institute of Computer Science
An independent, non-profit research organisation, the research at (SICS) results in over 100 refereed publications in academic journals, conferences and workshops.
Football Association of Finland
Finland’s largest amateur sports federation is also the governing body of football in Finland and the organisation behind the men’s and women’s national teams.
Bulgarian National Sports Academy
A higher education institution established in 1942, the Bulgarian National Sports Academy specialises in teaching, coaching, physical education and kinesitherapeutics.
The most successful club in world football in terms of international trophies, AC Milan were the Serie A runners-up last year and winners of an amazing seven UEFA Champions Leagues.
The Australian maker of an athlete tracking technology used by sporting giants like the New York Knicks, Dallas Cowboys and AC Milan is shooting for private equity investment.
Catapult Sports is seeking to raise up to 10 million Australian dollars (US$10.2 million) from parties including private equity firms, according to an investor presentation seen by The Wall Street Journal.
Catapult wants capital to fund the growth and distribution of its patented technology, which was originally developed for the Australian Institute of Sport, the presentation showed.
The company’s wearable devices can calculate athletes’ workloads, training volumes and physical exertion. Its main product, for example, can measure an athlete’s acceleration along with their strength and movement. All of which is mapped using by GPS technology, while at the same timing monitoring their heart rate.
Another device uses licensed technology to track players without GPS, which is especially suitable for sports played indoors. A third electronic tag is placed inside balls and is tracked by devices worn by the player, and can gather data such as how hard they kick the ball.
The technology is designed to help team coaches measure fatigue and performances during training sessions and competitive matches. When a game is ongoing, coaches can decide on the basis of real-time data whether a player should be substituted. It can also highlight tactical strengths and weaknesses.
Catapult estimates that the professional sporting market–based on clubs which earn revenue of more than A$1.3 million a year–is worth A$59 billion. It’s skewed heavily to North America and Europe where the biggest sporting leagues are based. The company says more than 90% of the market comprises five sports: football, gridiron, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. It doesn’t include teams that are state funded, such as Olympic squads.
According to the presentation, Melbourne-based Catapult is profitable. A typical contract generates up to A$100,000 a year.
The company says it has more than 250 contracts with clubs including English Premier League regulars Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United; U.S. National Football League teams like the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers; National Basketball Association teams including the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics and various national and state-level federations such as Great Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association.
While Catapult has secured contracts with only 1.5% of clubs in North America and Europe, it cites deals in place with nearly a third of all clubs in Australia. A total of 17 of 18 Australian Football League teams, including the 2012 premiers Sydney Swans, use the technology. A handful of Australia’s National Rugby League teams, including the 2012 premier champions Melbourne Storm, are also on its books while Cricket Australia, Hockey Australia and Rowing Australia are clients, Catapult says.
Growth opportunities for Catapult include sports like cycling, alternative applications like defense and second-tier clubs such as college teams. The company already has contracts with U.S. homeland security technology provider, the Technical Support Working Group worth more than A$700,000, which includes the right to commercialize the technology.
Disruptive Capital, the venture capital arm of Sydney-based Aura Capital Group, is assisting Catapult with the raising.
The AFL is set to introduce its latest piece of technological wizardry – footballs containing tracking devices – during the final round of the NAB Cup.
The specially modified balls will utilize GPS technology to provide clubs – and fans – with a better insight into just what happens on the field.
Each SmartBall, as they’re known, is fitted with a miniscule sensor inside, which is paired with the GPs devices already stitched into the guernseys of AFL players to produce a two-dimensional map of how players move to the ball.
The innovation will help coaching staff understand how their players have made position – and whether they’ve run to right spots – in relation to the moving ball. In short, they will tell the story behind each possession – and how hard players worked to get the ball.
Hawthorn’s 1991 Norm Smith medallist, Paul Dear, the business manager with the Melbourne company that has developed the technology, Catapult Sports, said: “The main game-changer is that we will be able to produce an accurate representation of the entire game, looking at it from a top-down, bird’s eye perspective.
“The game analysis will become less subjective, because we have everything from player positions, where the ball is moving to and from, rather than old-fashioned analysis. It moves away from video to data analysis and takes all the guess work out of the game.”
From a coaching standpoint, Dear said it would will further strategic advancements to the game.
“It will speed up tactical changes in the game”, he said. “Structures can be identified quickly, and opposition players and coach can adapt and respond in real time.”
Dear said he hoped the technology, if embraced by the media, would give the broader football public a better understanding of what happened off the ball.
“We’d love to see it introduced full time, both by the league and the masses – media, fans”, he said. “When you’re watching the footy you’re following the ball, but what this will do is give the viewer a view of where everyone comes from. Every statistic you could want on the field become available for everyone.”
THE AFL is edging closer to introducing revolutionary ball-tracking technology, with microchipped footballs at an advanced testing stage.
SmartBall, which involves embedding a miniature e-tag inside a ball, had been slated to make its debut in the last week of this year’s NAB Cup.
The league yesterday said it wanted more testing on the world-first technology, which is now being analysed by independent researchers at Victoria University.
First revealed by the Herald Sun in 2009 and nearly six years in development, SmartBall promises to change the AFL landscape.
Manufactured by Melbourne company Catapult Sports and co-developed by Sherrin, SmartBall works with existing athlete-tracking technology to provide clubs with real-time data relating to disposals, ball use and workrate.
Coaches would be able to see information such as:
HOW opposition defences set up when the ball is in a specific area.
HOW many times a forward leads before he eventually gains possession.
WHETHER the workrate of a team changes when it hasn’t got the ball.
Fans may also see its benefits, with talks under way with Channel 7 and Fox Sports to use the data.
Catapult business development manager and Hawthorn Norm Smith medallist Paul Dear said SmartBall would break new ground.
“All the analysis at the moment is video analysis so it’s very subjective,” Dear said.
“Once we can provide a 2D representation of the game and move towards data analysis… it becomes a whole new world.”
Dear said exhaustive testing meant there was no noticeable difference between a chipped football and a normal one.
“In terms of the integrity of the ball we have no problems with that because we’ve worked very closely with Sherrin to make sure that the ball is exactly the same,” he said.
AFL clubs have been using the SmartBall in training for several years, with Melbourne, Gold Coast, North Melbourne, Richmond, Adelaide and West Coast all familiar with the technology.
The old sports cliche “keep your eye on the ball” is getting a modern twist by an Australian sports tech company that’s putting an eye inside the ball.
Catapult Sports is rolling out the first major trial of ball-tracking technology this spring during the Australian Football League’s pre-season NAB Cup. SmartBall uses a tiny sensor inside the ball and fist-sized GPS trackers worn by players to produce a two-dimensional model of how the players and the ball move on the field.
There are two benefits to this. First, the player-worn devices send data to the sidelines, allowing trainers to determine who is working at peak levels, who is tiring and how changes in ball possession could be affecting their levels of effort. This type of sports-science approach is old hat for Catapult, which has long supplied its OptimEye monitors to professional, college, and Olympic teams around the world.
SmartBall expands the benefits of data-tracking from health monitoring and to in-game strategy and analysis. The technology can track who’s had the ball and for how long, where it is on the field, how it got there and at what speed. By examining real-time data, coaches can see where their formations and plays work and where there are weak spots. This will allow changing tactics during the game and in practice sessions.
“There’s going to be a lot of learning this season,” Luke Millar, Catapult Sports’ global manager, said. “People know it’s an amazing tool, but they’re going to sit down and say, ‘How are we going to use this information?’”
Such data also could be broadcast to fans watching the action, providing new insights into gameplay.
Leagues have been hesitant to implement any tracking system that altered the primary tool of the game: the ball. No changes in dimensions were allowed, and anything that altered how the ball bounced, spun, flew, or felt was a non-starter.
Catapult solved that problem by removing the transmitter from the chip inside the ball. Now the chip weighs just over half an ounce, so the ball stays within the specified range of 17 to 18 ounces. The transmitter is in the small GPS units included with each player’s game-day equipment.
The in-ball module sits snugly inside a pouch with the ball’s interior bladder. Two beacons — one with a range of 16 to 47 inches and another with a range of 3 to 16 feet — pulse five times per second, sending data to the receiver. The receiver typically is strapped into a vest worn and sits comfortably between the player’s shoulders. The data recorder worn by the players can tell whether the player has the ball and can produce accurate measurements of possessions, speed, and distance.
The NAB Cup will mark the first time the ball-tracking tech has been used in an official game, but a few teams, including Gold Coast, North Melbourne and Adelaide, have tested the system during preseason practice. If all goes well, Catapult co-founder and COO Igor van de Griendt said he foresees the SmartBall being used at a future Super Bowl.
“We see the ball tracking as having enormous potential for Australian football and rugby this year, but have our sights on soccer and (American) football in the near future,” he said. “We’re all pretty excited about where the technology is headed.”
Dogging it while the coach looks the other way isn’t an option for elite-level athletes. Coach is always watching. And now, in addition to all-seeing video cameras, he has indoor GPS to track every player’s location, speed, and other factors with pinpoint accuracy during every second of a practice or game.
Catapult Sports, based in Melbourne, Australia, already has its wearable GPS and data-tracking devices strapped to the backs of athletes in the NBA, the NFL, soccer’s English Premier League, and even Australian Rules Football. Soon the company will roll out its indoor GPS system upgrade, which will supplement the devices’ movement-tracking feature by providing information on acceleration/deceleration, how much force a player exerts, velocity, and more.
Add in a new sensor embedded in the ball, and coaches and trainers will have real-time data for each specific athlete and the ball itself. Ever want to know much force LeBron James uses to make a crosscourt pass? Science can tell you instantly.
“For your average strength and conditioning coach looking at speed, heart rate, and distance, the (regular) GPS is an adequate solution,” Catapult co-founder Igor van de Griendt tells PM from Melbourne. “The indoor GPS really allows the club to take it to the next level, where it has a lot of value on the technical side to see positions relative to opponents or the shape of an offense and defense.”
As PM noted at the Consumer Electronics Show, indoor GPS is the next big thing in navigation. But the name is a misnomer. While the typical global positioning system relies on satellites, indoor GPS relies on a network of nodes communicating with the tracking device. Catapult arranges 6.2 x 3.7–inch nodes around a stadium, providing a continuously talking network of 10 to 20 sensors depending on the size and shape of the venue.
Radio waves bounce off the mobile nodes worn by players and the fixed-position nodes at high rates of speed, and smart algorithms help crunch the data and allow coaches to view the positioning of a player to within 15 centimeters of accuracy. Catapult has agreements with various ball manufacturers to insert patented technology, weighing just 0.5 ounces, into the ball at the manufacturing stage. The sensors must be robust—balls get hit, thrown, kicked, and bounced, after all—and safely tucked inside the ball without changing its characteristics.
Catapult can set up most systems in just a couple of hours. The system uses ultrafast GPS, at 15 Hz, although Catapult suggests a rate of 10 Hz for most team sports. Indoors, this eliminates the need for using multiple cameras to triangulate player speeds, the only way other than indoor GPS to get this data.
While still monitoring all individual-player metrics, the indoor GPS system also grants coaches a better overall understanding of the entire team and their relation to each other and to their opponents. How the coach wants to use it is up to them, whether tweaking plays, redefining positions or working players into different roles based on speed and positioning.
With so little difference between elite athletes, coaches are all looking for that little gold nugget in the data. “Are they lazy? Can we get them to work harder? Those are the things they get excited about,” van de Griendt says. “It is the ability to measure things and put their own spin on it.”
James Hanisch, a sports scientist with the University of Oregon, who previously worked in Australian Rules Football, says the tactical applications of the indoor GPS will give him even better data on the movements of the body. For example, he wants to know how much force a lineman exerts on a particular snap and in relation to specific plays. Does the lineman work harder on running plays or passing plays? How much does he wear down over the course of a game? Now Hanisch can measure that.
“We are looking at it over time,” he says. “It is really about getting a grasp on what each player is doing and coming up with a baseline. Then, how do we push him to reach peak performance, or, if the medical staff is saying these guys are at risk of injury, how do we minimize that?”
The Seattle Sounders of MLS have begun using the equipment to keep better tabs on whether players in certain positions are overworked, fitness coach David Tenney says. “In 2007 we were just using heart-rate-type technology and we found that it was at times giving us a false sense of where guys were,” he says. “Catapult is … a training monitoring system. That is how we are using it.”
For years now coaches have been able to track how far a player runs during a game. But by combining that knowledge with biosignatures time-stamped to any point in the game, coaches can understand how hard they are working each player and how the different positions on the field compare with one another. That information has allowed coaches to make changes in training based on the data, Tenney says.
“By looking at some of the data we get out, we can prevent muscle-type injuries,” van de Griendt says. “Sensors can measure impacts and spin rates and measure the actual force or amount of tackles and force and correlate those with injuries.”
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has bought into the system, which means the players are onboard, too, even if that means wearing the 3.5-ounce device. And, all along the way, coaches and trainers get to watch. No more loafing.
Catapult has been working extensively on a unique collaboration with East Tennessee State University and their new Center of Excellence, the only true sports science institution in the United States.
Utilizing a Sports Performance Enhancement Consortium that was created between the kinesiology and athletic departments, with the purpose of enhancing coaching and athletic performance, ETSU students will learn theoretical aspects of training and then get to apply their knowledge on Division 1 athletes.
This is a valuable relationship for Catapult, who has recently made great strides within the US, as the goal for the students at ETSU is to graduate with practical experience using and implementing athlete tracking technology. This will assist them when applying for Sports Scientist positions with sports teams around the world, and their knowledge of the technology will put them in a great position to take advantage of upcoming US-based positions with Catapult.
Ethan Owens, a Sports Scientist based in Catapult’s Atlanta office and an ETSU alumni, believes the relationship to be beneficial for both parties and is excited about where it is heading.
“As ETSU continues to foster quality sport science in America, we are excited to have the Catapult system integrated into the curriculum at ETSU,” Owens said.
“This will serve these students well as they begin to look for jobs in the field. Being able to use Catapult technology will increase their chances of getting jobs because of the training and application they’ve done with Catapult to enhance athlete performance.”
Catapult is the most advanced athlete monitoring system in the world. It measures such events as impacts, acceleration, and movement through GPS. All of the measurements can be followed in real-time and coaches can receive reports on players in seconds.
As a Sport Scientist for ETSU’s men’s soccer team and a doctoral student in ETSU’s sport physiology and performance program, Howard Gray is well aware of the benefits of using Catapult.
“This technology is the best in the world when it comes to tracking athletic movement,” Gray said. “Using Catapult, we can measure speed, distance, acceleration, deceleration and orientation of the body, as well as the impact from jumping, landing and hitting that occurs during contact sports.”
ETSU launched the nation’s first doctoral program in sport physiology and performance in 2010. The program is integrated with the ETSU Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education, which oversees the new U.S. Olympic Training Center for weightlifting.
Though many major sports teams around the world are already using Catapult, ETSU will be the first university in the US to implement the training and use of the device into its curriculum.
“ETSU is internationally acknowledged for its sport science and sport performance program,” Owens said. “The students who graduate from this elite program will be able to share their expertise with and with other coaches and athletes across the nation. This partnership will increase the employment opportunities of the students graduating from this program.”
“We pride ourselves on assisting the training of athletes. At ETSU, we’re able to not only enhance athlete performance, but also enhance the education of ETSU students in the kinesiology department.”
Entering his fifth year with the Seattle Sounders of the MLS, David Tenney is highly-regarded in the sports science community as a Fitness Coach that understands the requirements of helping athletes reach their athletic potential.
Joining the Sounders after two seasons with the Kansas City Wizards, Tenney has worked from a variety of angles within the ‘world game’ – team captain for Virginia Tech University, earning his B.I.S in Coaching Science at George Mason University while working with both collegiate soccer programs, playing professionally with Germany’s SV Linx and FC Rastatt, playing for six years in the Continental Indoor Soccer League, while completing a UEFA/European ‘A’ licence soccer coaching course in the Czech Republic – and has turned to Catapult Sports to monitor the physical characteristics of his world-class MLS athletes.
“Catapult has given us the opportunity to better quantify the mechanical load and physical load performed in training,” Tenney explains. “It has aided the coaching staff in selecting exercises based on whether we want to overload PlayerLoad, velocity load, or aerobic parameters – giving us a more precise framework from which to work off of.”
Known in particular for his valuable work getting injured Sounders players back on the pitch faster, Tenney’s name is generally the first mentioned when athletes are asked about their road from recovery. In particular, when Seattle winger Steve Zakuani scored his first goal in 17 months after returning from injury early in 2012, his first reaction was to run to the sideline and hug Tenney.
While he notes that this notoriety is “flattering” and shows “that the system we have in place is working”, he is also quick to promote the benefits of Catapult’s athlete tracking technology when it comes to player rehabilitation.
“There are several areas that Catapult can be used to improve a fitness coach’s ability to bring a player back from injury,” Tenney says.
“First, it’s easy to assess and monitor the peak velocities an athlete may achieve within a session. This is one metric that we monitor specifically, before a player is considered for match play again. Secondly, it helps us choose the right exercises to slowly overload certain muscle groups that may be more susceptible to a re-injury during the rehab process.
“A player may optically ‘look’ close to 100% in training, but athlete monitoring will give us more evidence as to how close a player can perform max velocity, sharp change of directions, and high-intensity work in comparison to training sessions prior to the injury.”
A big part of that analysis is the use of the revolutionary PlayerLoad metric, which is the only accelerometer-based work metric on the market that provides one number which summarises an athlete’s physical output, and “has proven to be beneficial to monitor over-use in the quad, hip, and adductor areas.”
From the data collated through Catapult Sports technology, the Seattle Sounders have adjusted their three-game-a-week schedule to include ‘non-impact recovery’ on the day after a game – which involves 20 minutes on a spin bike, foam rolling, stretching, and some mobility and stability exercises.
“The biggest issue we have regarding training programs and recovery work is the decision of how much specific work to do the second day after a game. Many soccer coaches want to begin to do a lot of field work again, thinking that the players have already had one day off, but I have found that typically, players are still in a pretty fatigued state still 36 hours after a match.”
Soccer is an alactic-aerobic sport where players will complete between 50-80 sprints per game for a total of 10-14km, resulting in players needing extended recovery time and substituting strength gains during the season for necessary stability and corrective work that may prevent injuries.
A strong believer in soccer-specific training, meaning that athletes should spend most of their practice time on the field using a ball, Tenney understands the huge advantages of having wearable athlete tracking and knows the benefits of sports science in soccer.
“Having seen some of the top practitioners of sports science work throughout Europe and here in the US, I feel like athlete tracking has helped us really determine optimal loading schemes in training. I am a big believer in the phrase, ‘train as hard as you should, not as hard as you can’, and I feel like athlete monitoring gives coaching staffs a better sense of what that type and intensity of training should be.
“One of the biggest perspectives GPS and athlete monitoring has given us is the subtle changes in match demands from year-to-year. I think that AFL athletes wearing GPS systems and sports scientists being able to inform clubs how the demands of certain positions have evolved is massive when it comes to training and recruiting. I just wish that soccer would be able to have Catapult GPS data used within the game.”
And in case the measurement of every movement by an athlete in competition isn’t enough to help fitness coaches monitor periodization, rehabilitation, player comparison, tactical analysis and making better use of training time and meeting game demands, the upcoming development of ball tracking technology for soccer has Tenney excited about that added element of analysis.
“Ball tracking will be able to give sports scientists a whole new perspective on how athletes work relative to the position of the ball, as well as with the ball. How do the speed and distance of passes change over a game? There will suddenly also be a bigger set tactical data points available to sports scientists once ball tracking is also available.”
Having catapulted GPS athlete tracking to new heights with world-leading sports technology, Catapult Sports are set to launch a wearable local positioning system that will transform the analysis of data available for every sport irrespective of stadium and environment.
Already the first in the industry to provide elite sporting organizations with fast GPS (higher than 1Hz), accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers with GPS tracking, wireless real-time data, and integrated ball tracking, Catapult Sports will be the first to offer practical athlete tracking devices that do not require the need for satellites.
“This is a very exciting time for technology in sport,” Catapult CEO Shaun Holthouse said.
“We are the world leaders in this space and feel that the evolution of athlete tracking to expand beyond traditional GPS is the next great step for the sports technology market.”
Already working with six NBA teams and a multitude of indoor Olympic athletes to provide analysis of acceleration, deceleration, change of direction and jumping abilities, the indoor GPS system will be able to measure speed, distance and velocity for every elite athlete in the world – allowing the comparison of game demands for Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers with Anders Weimann of Aston Villa FC.
The technology involves an exclusive license agreement with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), who are the national government for scientific research in Australia.
“We feel that CSIRO conduct world-class research and we are very excited about some of the current technology we are licensing from them,” Holthouse said.
“What they have developed is a platform technology that strikes a really good balance between performance and practical considerations. Used within our current devices, the technology has the ability to revolutionize the way data is produced in elite sport.”
The patented technology will be an invaluable asset to the Catapult product range and will use portable hardware to provide highly accurate tracking of people and objects where traditional technologies do not work and clear reception of radio signals is difficult.
This means indoor sports will now have access to the same GPS-related data that has proven so vital in football and rugby competitions around the world, as well as covering outdoor sports that are played in stadiums with a roof or limited visibility of satellites – from Etihad Stadium in Australia to King Fahd International Stadium in Saudi Arabia.
The technology has several advantages, including pinpoint accuracy, high update rates, portability, quick set-up, no cabling required, and it operates in the most severe and dense multipath radio environments.
Because the system works in any possible setting, and will be used with Catapult’s existing devices which utilize accelerometers and gyroscopes, extensive testing has suggested that indoor GPS technology will eventually be used in every sport.
“After rigorous testing at various stadiums around the world and in every environment imaginable, we have found the results to be astounding,” Holthouse said.
“The data has been more accurate than the most accurate portable GPS.”
The technology features world-leading algorithms that allow anchor nodes at specific locations around the area to be monitored and communicate wirelessly with a small mobile tag attached to the objects being tracked.
Catapult Sports forecast a BETA release of the product will be available in early 2013.
Meeting Simon Kearney, head of Sport Science for the 2012 NRL premiership-winning Melbourne Storm, is a lesson on how to use Catapult’s technology.
Knowing the expectations of having to bring in the latest sporting innovations to prescribe workloads for players with different sporting histories, Kearney used OptimEye and Catapult Live to monitor every skill and conditioning session in every training and game before producing specific training regiments for each individual athlete.
Using that information, Kearney said “it gave us the ability to quantify everything our guys were doing from distance to speed to acceleration, quantifying workloads and rehabilitation.
“For someone on the sport science side of things, it really takes away the subjectivity of what your guys are doing and gives you some objective numbers that you can work with to get any edge you can”.
Kearney explained that the Storm used Catapult for every facet of their training and game workload, as well as using the athlete tracking technology on the rehabilitation side by being able to address soft tissue and joint injuries, and then organise programs which could then bring back their players much faster.
“We generally had two or three injured guys wearing the units at a time, and then the rest of the guys would be wearing them doing drills in training, keeping track of everyone’s levels.
“Managing the bodies of an entire team can get hectic because everyone is at a different fitness level, and you have to manage everything from making sure your injured guys aren’t overloading, to making sure your fitter guys are still being challenged”.
Kearney will be trading rectangle diagrams for oval this off-season when he moves to fellow Catapult customer, the St Kilda Football Club.
AFL might be played on a more three-dimensional contour, with opposition coming from all angles – and contain longer bouts of running and different forms of tackling to its rugby league counterpart – but Catapult’s ability to quantify every physical action of an athlete’s movement, and the team staff’s ability to choose their own parameters, mean the data provided by OptimEye can be customised to address subjective concerns in every sport.
“We’ll basically use it the same way (with St Kilda) as we did with the Storm, the only real difference being that there are more guys and more units. We’ll use it for everything from conditioning, skills, playing and training, to rehab to try to get those good numbers to help us prescribe the requirements of all the boys”.
Keen to sing the praises about Catapult’s existing technology, Kearney also expressed his enthusiasm for the new SmartBall ball tracking technology – which has been developed to work alongside OptimEye to provide valuable information for analysis and review of training and game performance.
“I think it’ll be fantastic. I mean, the object of almost any team sport is to get the ball, so that technology will go a long way with its ability to put together hotspots and show how your guys are getting the ball and where. Especially with our midfield group and the general player movement of the boys, being able to break down the movement of the players around where the ball is something that’s pretty exciting.”
Simon Kearney studied sport science at the University of Ballarat and has since worked with the Melton Football Club, the Melbourne Tigers, Tennis Australia (where he trained Alicia Molik for three years), and Collingwood Football Club before moving to the Storm in 2010.
Catapult congratulates Simon on his success with the Storm’s 2012 NRL Premiership, and wishes him well with St Kilda.
Technological advancements in sports have played a major role in the improvement of all types of athletic competition.
Consider where sports would be without coaches scouring through hours of game tapes or Adrian Peterson not having top rehabilitation technologies to use after suffering a terrible knee injury. Imagine Olympic competition with athletes who do not have state-of-the-art training facilities to work out in. Sports just wouldn’t be the same. The athletes we love to watch are truly gifted but they all use some sort of technology to take them to the next level.
One of the latest game-changing products to combine sports and technology is from a company called Catapult Sports. They have created a measuring device called OptimEye which helps athletes train harder, play smarter, and decrease the likelihood of injuries. Not to mention, it greatly increases a coach’s abilities to manage his or her athletes from anywhere in the world by receiving real time data.
Boden Westover, the Media and Marketing Manager of Catapult Sports, was nice enough to join us for an exclusive interview to further explain one the newest technological products that is improving athletic performance.
SportTechie: Can you please provide some background about Catapult Sports?
Boden Westover: In 1976, the Australian Olympic team returned home from the Montreal Olympics to face backlash for not winning a single gold medal. After an encouraging eight gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Australian government quickly sought to rectify their need for achievement at the international sporting level by directing federal funding towards a world-leading sports institute.
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) was formed in Canberra in 1981 as a sports training association where the best young athletes from around the country would receive scholarships – which now numbers over 700 athletes each year across 36 programs in 26 sports.
Then in 1990, the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program was established to enhance Australia’s industrial, commercial and economic growth through the development of research centres that achieve success in adoption and commercialisation.
Shaun Holthouse and Igor van de Griendt, eventual founders of Catapult Sports, led a large team of researchers towards focusing on emerging micro-technology that was to be deployed in small sensors in ways no one had seen before. After dealing with various industry partners from Motorola to cochlea ear implants, Holthouse and van de Griendt began a project with the Australian Institute of Sport.
Having quickly taken a unique approach to evidence-based science, the AIS began monitoring all facets of athlete physical performance. Measurement of their elite athletes was predominantly laboratory-based because they relied on bringing in their participants to perform on gym equipment – which provided great insight into the demands of elite sport, but because the athlete wasn’t in their natural environment, they weren’t physically exerting themselves in the same way they would on their playing field.
With a desire to move this laboratory-based experimentation onto the field, the CRC developed wearable sensors that made it more accessible to more Australian athletes, and more routinely deployable. And looking to commercialise the product after great success developing technology platforms for the 2004 Athens Olympics, Catapult Sports was born in late 2006.
Catapult Sports has since become the world leader in wearable athlete tracking technology. Working with over 200 world-class sporting teams and institutions in a vast range of sports, Catapult’s technology can measure every physical indicator of an athlete’s movement – from distance to speed, intensity to exertion. Because if you can measure it, you can improve it.
Since its inception, Catapult’s innovations in athlete tracking include:
• The combination of GPS and inertial sensors like accelerometers.
• A multi-player wireless link for real-time coach monitoring.
• Fast multi-hertz GPS to capture the detail of fast moving sports.
• Integrated ball tracking.
• Feature extraction algorithms for monitoring athlete fatigue, game specific events, or repeat high intensity efforts.
• Inertial Movement Analysis technology which measures speed and direction for indoor application.
After extensive collaboration with the AFL, NRL and Australia’s premier sporting institutions, Catapult Sports is revolutionizing sport science application in the English Premier League, as well as soccer and rugby union competitions across Europe. Now moving into the US market, we are rapidly evolving across the NBA, NFL and major US colleges – with over a dozen teams turning to Catapult’s products in the last few months.
SportTechie: What is Optimeye and how can athletes use it to help them increase performance?
B.W.: OptimEye is a small athlete tracking device that easily fits inside the middle of your palm and is worn in a small compression top similar to a sports bra that is unobtrusively hidden under an athlete’s game uniform.
The device sends signals to a receiver that is attached to a coach’s computer in real-time, 10 times per second, so that every physical movement an athlete makes is recorded and quantified in an online player database through our innovative Catapult Live software.
OptimEye can measure and collate an athlete’s: distance, velocity, real-time data, comparative graphs, repeat efforts, accelerations, decelerations, PlayerLoad, possession chains, heart rate zones. Heart rate exertion, tactical animations, sleep data, statistics by period, hotspot plots, and speed zones.
SportTechie: Catapult clients include sports teams from football, basketball, soccer, rowing, rugby and more. How can you accurately monitor the performance of so many different types of athletes?
B.W.: Even though OptimEye measures athlete performance for a variety of sports, the technology is designed with various accelerometers, gyroscopes, and GPS functionality to provide data that breaks down every movement an athlete makes with respect to their own individualized physical thresholds. This means that the surrounding environment is essentially irrelevant because the technology collates specific information for each player and provides all the data necessary for trainers to use in their own way.
While we pride ourselves on our customer support and assisting teams with how to organize the data provided by OptimEye, the technology is only limited by your understanding of its applications – the real work is done by the strength and conditioning and sports science staff once the data has been collated.
Having said that, unique sports like rowing and baseball – sports that aren’t team-oriented with the objective to gain possession of the ball – are taken into account with specialized OptimEye units that feature their own specialized algorithms to accurately measure unique technical movements in those sports.
SportTechie: How can the data from Optimeye better equip coaches to manage their players?
B.W.: The benefits of OptimEye for equipping coaches to manage their players include:
Coaches can make better use of practice time by turning scrimmage sessions into fitness testing. Because coaches need time with players to work on tactical analysis and skill development, and support staff need time to measure physical fitness, OptimEye can combine the two so athletes aren’t overloading in their training schedules and are still meeting all of their physical requirements.
Making practice meet game demands by designing training programs for each individual player based on playing position, match intensity, and playing time. This reduces the likelihood of coaches providing generic programs for all players irrespective of their game requirements.
Making your periodization model work by monitoring an athlete’s physical development. Because teams and players want to peak at the right time of the season, and fitness staff design training schedules based on this linear improvement, OptimEye quantifies this development to ensure the periodization model is being followed accurately.
Remote athlete monitoring for players that are training separately from the rest of the team. Because of OptimEye’s wireless data collection, players do not even need to be in the same country as the fitness staff that is monitoring their progress. This is particularly useful for talent identification for new recruits and for national teams with players spread out geographically.
Tactical analysis for coaches wanting to bring to life their whiteboard by turning the data provided by OptimEye into real-time animations so that athletes can simply follow team structures and movement.
Comparing player performance to decipher which athletes are working the hardest, which need to be more competitive at practice, and to construct training templates based on your best athletes so that new recruits or prospective players have quantified data to work towards.
Rehabilitating injured athletes by building up comprehensive histories of each player’s physical levels and variation in performance. By structuring a controlled rehabilitation program and placing limits on key variables, you can ensure athletes do not re-injure themselves on their road to recovery.
Catapult Sports is continuing rigorous testing of its Inertial Movement Analysis (IMA) technology for application with indoor sports and for supplementing existing outdoor data.
The innovative IMA technology provides the ability to quantify performance in acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, free running events and jump height and frequency for every sport, without the need for satellites.
Combining accelerometer and gyroscope information to build a gravity model to enable subtraction of gravity vector, the technology allows you to track athlete performance and corrects for athlete orientation irrespective of unit positioning – a revolutionary approach to sport science.
Because it isn’t possible to measure distance, velocity and acceleration using GPS inside before the release of Catapult’s upcoming local GPS system, IMA was developed to ensure the analysis of all athlete movements for indoor application, as well as complimenting existing outdoor uses. Therefore football and rugby teams can now supplement their distance and velocity measurements with data related to change of direction, running and jumping.
Traditionally, heart rate and PlayerLoad data were the only physical parameters available for indoor sports, but with the ability of IMA to measure acceleration, deceleration and change of direction and with your ability to determine interval bands to provide insight into game intensity, sports like basketball and ice hockey finally have the technology to provide in-depth movement analysis.
The recent testing involved a professional basketball player to determine whether the radar plots that are produced from IMA give accurate information on the actual direction of the athlete’s force when applied.
Working with real-time motion capture cameras, the athlete was instructed to perform seven sets of three 10m sprints – ranging in angles from 45º to 135º to 180º, turning left and right – in a state-of-the-art sport science studio, while performing various jumps intermittently between the explosive changes of direction.
Wearing a multitude of small sensors that the motion capture systems grab and reflect back, as well as Catapult’s distinguishing sports bras encasing the market-leading OptimEye device, the athlete’s every movement of every body part was recorded on the Calcium Solver software in the form of a three-dimensional skeleton to display the direction of the athlete’s force.
With the intention of finding comparison movement patterns to determine whether the IMA radar plots represent the actual direction of movement, the testing provided valuable position, velocity and acceleration 200 Hz data.
In addition to measuring the success of data provided by change of direction movements, the study also tested the effectiveness of whether the athlete’s jump height as indicated by the IMA reports matched that of the motion capture system.
The unique ability of IMA technology to give greater insight into the advances in athlete power and force production have meant that metrics never used before with jumps monitoring are providing measures of fatigue and performance decrement. Thus, by measuring every change of direction and jump an athlete performs, IMA can determine when an athlete will fatigue and how previous explosive movements will affect future micro-movements.
IMA has proven extremely useful across a range of sports, and will have long-lasting use for both indoor and outdoor sports.
The Australian Financial Review
Melbourne company Catapult Sports hopes the trial of its GPS-tracking technology inside the footballs that will be used in the 2013 AFL pre-season NAB Cup will be the catalyst for it to export its products.
Catapult’s SmartBall technology inserts a microchip – or miniature module – inside a football, and sends data to coaches and fitness staff to monitor ball movement in real time.
SmartBall will be inserted in all the NAB Cup balls and trialled throughout the month-long competition with a view to potentially introducing it in the AFL competition proper in future years.
“We already do a lot of work on the data of tracking the athletes and this will look at the other side of things, the ball, and measure where it goes on the field,” Catapult co-founder Shaun Holthouse says. “So it really completes the puzzle.”
The SmartBall technology complements Catapult’s existing GPS-tracking device that is attached to players via a vest worn underneath their playing jumper, and is used by 17 out of 18 AFL clubs to measure player movement and fatigue during matches and training.
Holthouse and co-founder Igor van de Griendt established the company in 2006 after working on the technology with the Australian Institute of Sport in the late 1990s through the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program.
Being in Melbourne, the pair concentrated on the AFL but in recent years have begun exporting the GPS system to teams in the United Kingdom, including the English Premier League, and the United States.
However, Catapult, like many emerging companies, struggled to keep up with demand for its product, so Holthouse and van de Griendt brought in Melbourne entrepreneur Adir Shiffman as chairman last year to help commercialise its products, which are being extended into other ball sports as well as a wireless tracking device developed with the CSIRO.
In the past year, Shiffman says Catapult’s customer list has grown about 40 per cent to 250 sporting teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Olympique de Marseille in France.
Staff numbers have more than doubled to about 25, including those working in the company’s London and San Francisco offices.
Shiffman says the challenge now is for Catapult to grow at a sustainable rate. “We’ve never had a sales team until now, for example, and now we’re making those outbound calls.”
Catapult has annual revenue approaching $10 million, is profitable and has been funding its expansion through spare cash flow.
Shiffman says the company has had several approaches this year from prospective buyers but adds: “We think we’ve got at least two to three years of extreme growth left in us and then plenty more after that.”
Catapult has taken the next step towards providing you with complete customization of your athlete’s data and increased real-time data accuracy with the release of the much-anticipated Sprint 5.0.9.
With the ability to configure team reports and the option to export any parameter possible as a text or Excel file, the new easy-to-comprehend software gives complete control to the user. CTR will rapidly minimize time spent analyzing your team’s data. The overhauled system provides you with the capability to view your whole team at a glance and export all of the desired parameters either individually or as a team.
On top of the strength of individualizing your customized reports, Sprint 5.0.9 lets you save multiple templates so that you can easily produce individual and team reports with the click of a button and run a multitude of team reports from the same set of data.
All reporting options currently used in individual and team reports are available for users to select. This includes all outdoor and indoor band settings, acceleration, velocity, heart rate, and many other general parameters.
We have also included a multitude of additional parameters that you have never been able to plot, including:
All IMA variables: event count, free-running parameters and low, mid, and high intensity jump counts.
PlayerLoad 1D% is a new variable that can now be exported in the configurable team report. Select this parameter to display what percentage of player movement occurred anterior-posterior, mediolateral and vertically. The advantage of this parameter is the ability to view the split of movement demand across a particular drill, match or between athletes.
The release of Firmware version 685 provides a fresh platform to dramatically increase the data accuracy between real-time and post-data download.
This new and improved firmware has increased accuracy of Firmware 685 will be available within the next few weeks and Catapult support will be in contact with you shortly with the firmware update.
Catapult has also added significant IMA Beta enhancements, including:
• Improvements to IMA algorithm to quantify low, mid and high events.
• Alterations to IMA event calculation – units are now displayed as 10 times larger.
• Updated help file, including advanced information on application and user setup.
• Ball Tracking enhancements, including the addition of the new help file with practical application and setup information for new ball tracking users
With the ability to configure team reports and the option to export any parameter possible as a text or Excel file, the new easy-to-comprehend software gives complete control to the user and rapidly minimises time spent analysing your team’s data.
Please make sure to back-up your application data folder with your Sprint settings prior to upgrading to 5.0.9.
Contact email@example.com for more details on the new software update.
At a time when Australian sports fans were divided by football codes and colours, Grand Final weekend 2012 came wrought with similarities that rivalled only the novelty of Sydney taking the AFL flag and Melbourne claiming the NRL premiership.
Amid the biting of medals and ears, the re-emergence of the beard, the 10-point margin and the fact the minor premiers got toppled on the final stage, the newest AFL and NRL champions also had one other valuable similarity – the use of Catapult technology.
Catapult sports, a technology-first company that designs and manufactures equipment for the training and monitoring of elite athletes, have provided the Sydney Swans (five seasons) and the Melbourne Storm (two seasons) with the unique ability to understand what stressors today’s game puts on world-class athletes by carefully tailoring training programs to condition the athletes to meet these rigorous demands.
Working with Catapult’s own Sprint software, OptimEye can be used in official AFL and NRL games as well as many competitions and leagues around the world.
With both football codes being physical sports with heavy focus on running and tackling, the fitness analysis component of OptimEye measures sprints, accelerations and distance, while at the same time counting and characterising tackle events. Scientifically unique in its ability to quantify both running and tackling, OptimEye uses sophisticated pattern recognition to identify a tackle and then provide the relevant metrics (intensity, time, pitch location), while also measuring distance covered, metres per minute, repeat high intensity effort bouts, and number of accelerations. Combined with measuring physiological parameters like heart rate and you can scientifically measure every moment from Lewis Jetta out-sprinting Cyril Rioli on the wing, to Jaiman Lowe breaking through a tackle down the middle.
By measuring the ratio of running and non-running portions of an athlete’s workload, a coach (John Longmire) can better understand why his utility (Adam Goodes) is working harder than many midfielders, and therefore produce a personalised training program which will ensure the Brownlow medalist performs at his peak performance.
In addition to the training and competition benefits of dealing with a world leader in wearable athlete tracking technology, Catapult has also played a vital role in the rehabilitation of players across both codes. Using OptimEye to monitor velocity, heart rate, distance, acceleration and impact loading, training staff can set alarms personalised for each player and the Sprint software will alert you if a player is exceeding allowable thresholds – a big reason Billy Slater was able to recover from ligament damage to his left knee suffered during the State of Origin series.
Catapult Sports would like to congratulate the Sydney Swans and Melbourne Storm on their premierships and look forward to a continued successful relationship in seasons to come!
With the English Premier League season in full swing with consecutive games and training sessions, the ability to manage your athletes’ athletic performance is paramount. Below is an example of the importance placed on Catapult’s OptimEye athlete tracking technology at one of the leading EPL Clubs, West Bromwich Albion FC.
“I have worked with the catapult system for the past six years. It is at the core of our performance monitoring operation at West Bromwich Albion FC,” said Sport Scientist Chris Barnes.
“Over this period, impressive developments in both the hardware and software have ensured that it has established itself as the market leader in this area. I am confident that the exciting ongoing developments which Catapult plan to deliver during 2012-2013 will further consolidate this position”.