With over 20 years of experience in the field of Strength and Conditioning and an impressive resume of achievements in the health and fitness industry, Cronulla Sharks Physical Performance Manager, David Boyle, understands what it takes for a professional athlete to be physically conditioned for competition.
After a nine-year playing career in Australia’s National Rugby League for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and two highly-regarded State of Origin appearances in 1987, David joined the Sharks ahead of their 2013 NRL campaign.
With an all-encompassing role that oversees the physical performance of Cronulla’s elite squad, David has relied on the performance monitoring data provided by the Catapult system to objectively measure physical progress of his athletes.
David says the technology has had a big impact on rugby league so far.
“Catapult allows coaches to monitor skill intensity in their sessions, and also lets Strength and Conditioning Coaches to individualise player programs”.
In particular in the Sharks’ preparation for competition each weekend, David utilises the Catapult data to monitor his athletes’ load levels and to ensure each individual athlete is getting the desired amount of physical conditioning.
Rugby league is a unique sport with a high amount of running and collisions, lending itself perfectly to the Catapult system.
Based on the research paper ‘Physical demands of professional rugby league training and competition using microtechnology’ by Dr. Tim Gabbett using Catapult GPS units, the average outside back covers around 7km per game, endures around 28 collisions (half of which are considered ‘heavy’), and pushes through around nine Repeated High Intensty Efforts.
Given this information, David can then train his athletes accordingly. “We look at the skills sessions and monitor player loads, high velocity and total volume.
“This allows us to ‘top up’ the players for Maximum Velocity and Anaerobic conditioning”.
With the ability to measure every physical metric possible, providing objective data to movements that traditionally have relied on subjective interpretation, David discusses the aspects of the Catapult system that are the most valuable to the Cronulla Sharks.
“There are several components we look at, including player loads, metres per minute, heart rates, maximum velocities and then make comparisons regarding various player positions”.
David’s role as Physical Performance Manager is similar to previous positions with the Dragons, Illawarra Steelers, Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers, and a consulting strength and conditioning role with the Wollongong Hawks National Basketball League team.
Being able to compile all of that knowledge from various corners of the sporting world, and utilising the best technology available, to make informed decisions on player work loads is a vital aspect of his profession.
“Catapult is a valuable tool to assist Strength and Conditioning Coaches to make informed decisions on player athleticism”.
On top of making informed decisions on the Sharks’ most valued assets, its players, a large part of David’s job is to ensure that those players avoid preventable injuries and rehabilitate safely if they do succumb to injury.
Using the technology to measure and monitor all movement, in training and in games, David can build up detailed player profiles to understand the norm physical levels of each athlete to ‘benchmark’ the desired threshold he must reach before returning to competition.
“As we have collected information on each player, it allows us to benchmark and know where we have to get the player back to before he is game fit”.
A final aspect that helps paint the entire picture of an athlete’s performance is the use of SmartBall ball tracking technology, which Cronulla have briefly tested during the 2013 pre-season and look forward to using down the track in providing detailed information on the story behind each possession.
“In the future we look forward to looking at time the ball is in motion both offensively and defensively”.