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Mladen Jovanovic

Head Physical Preparation Coach


Known for his innovative ways of using performance monitoring technologies, Hammarby IF Head Physical Preparation Coach, Mladen Jovanovic, has quickly become an advanced Catapult user.

Previously working in a variety of roles in Servia and Turkey, Mladen first heard about Catapult “from time-motion studies I have read a couple of years ago.

“I believe the author was Tim Gabbett or some other high-level sport scientist from Australia. I remember being jealous of those guys for being able to collect such data and take an empiric approach to training and decision making.”

How does Mladen see Catapult improving the performance of his athletes?

“In multiple ways. First one, and the most basic, involves creating the exercise database for the coaches to select from and to suit planned loading and training objectives, at least from a physical standpoint.

“Second one involves individualised tracking of external work being done by the player. Before GPS this could be done only using notational system, which is time consuming. With Catapult one could do this in real time.

“Besides having the objective quantification of work being performed by the players, this creates certain accountability in them since they know they are being monitored. The future of GPS monitoring involves creating individualised predictive models to optimise training, competition, recovery and injury prevention together with other data.”

Working intimately with the data to discover ‘actionable insight’, Mladen knows that data for the sake of it is not what Catapult is about.

“The system provides valid and reliable estimates that one needs to put into a certain model to get insights.
“The model building is up to the client still and that sometimes leaves the users paralysed – which estimate to follow and how to interpret it.”

Discussing football, Mladen finds it difficult to name the most valuable aspect that needs quantifying.

“That depends on the goal of such task along with signal/noise of the estimate and its pragmatic value. Research is still inconclusive in this regard and I am not sure if someone has it figured out. That is also very motivating since there is still a lot of work to be done to figure out what is the best estimate for a given monitoring task. The recent papers by Chris Carling and Martin Buccheit have put more oil on the fire regarding this very important task.

“The new metabolic power data might be something that merges acceleration data and velocity data and provides better external work estimates.

“PlayerLoad is also a very interesting metric, especially because it is done with high frequency (100Hz) and also accumulates non-running activities, which could provide a useful measure of total load applied to a player.
Besides, it could be done indoor as well.”

With regular experiments with Catapult in martial arts for his Twitter followers, Mladen discusses his findings:
“It is hard to quantify external workload in martial arts. The load monitoring in martial arts usually involves internal load (HR, bLA) and subjective indicators (like sRPE).

“One interesting idea I tried to play with was estimating external workload using PlayerLoad metric and Catapult devices bandaged on the wrists to take into account punches as a source of external work.

“Additional Catapult devices could be put on the ankles, between the shoulder blades, as it is common with team sports and possibly on the headgear to take into account head punches.

“Wrapping these might be impractical for daily monitoring, but it might help with the drill classification and database building from physical demand point of view.

“Being able to estimate external load might provide info such as if a given athlete is able to generate more work on the heavy bag or in sparring after a given training program and thus have the higher potential to be used in a match.

“External work rate measuring might also help with the design of sport and training specific tests. As of now a lot of boxers and martial artists perform running based tests, such as VO2max testing on the treadmill, which is not really sport nor training specific.

“For sure, running around the ring is not a sign of a great boxer".