No one quite epitomizes the reach of Catapult’s athlete tracking technology around the world like Houston Rockets Sports Scientist Tom Mockford. Having graduated from the prestigious Loughborough University in England, a well-respected sports science institute, Tom worked as the Sports Science Officer at Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League during the successful 2009 and 2010 seasons - winning Premiership championships during an FA Cup ‘double’ winning season.
It was during this period working at the apex of professional football that Tom discovered Catapult.
“I first heard about Catapult in 2008 during my time working at Chelsea Football Club.
“I first used the system in 2010 with the Great Britain Basketball men’s and women’s programs in preparation for the 2011 European Championships and London 2012 Olympic Games”.
Moving from the world outdoor game to the world indoor game, Tom has since become one of the more respected sports scientists in basketball. Working as the Sports Science Officer for Great Britain Basketball since before their successful 2011 EuroBasket campaign, and during the 2012 London games (coming within one point of powerhouse Spain and dominating China for a successful Olympics campaign), Tom’s use of the Catapult system helped him gain a position with the NBA’s Houston Rockets as a Sports Scientist.
The Rockets have analysed the Catapult data for the past three seasons - during which the Rockets have finished with winning records.
Playing a demanding 82-game NBA schedule, the Rockets are highly progressive in taking a proactive approach in monitoring their players’ physical output and closely watching load levels week-to-week to ensure players are ready for each game.
“The main reason we use the technology is to monitor athlete loading (both metabolic and musculoskeletal) as part of periodization models. Making sure we load and unload at the right times for optimum physical preparation”.
Without Catapult athlete analytics, understanding load levels is a purely subjective task that cannot be accurately measured. By wearing Catapult units during every training and practice, the Rockets can objectively determine who is physically ready to perform come game time - which is generally three or four times a week.
Knowing the importance of the technology for modern sport, Tom’s experience with a variety of scientific techniques to optimize performance mean that he understands the advantages of Catapult as well as any user around the world.
“Its ease of use, both in operation and analysis.
“It provides us with additional information about the physical status of an athlete, which can aid decision making and guide intervention strategy. Make sure we are on track with individual conditioning goals.
“Also with rehabilitation and reconditioning – making sure pre-injury targets are reached before player returns to full contact”.
It is this aspect that is so crucial to Catapult users, given the most debilitating setback a team can endure is an injury to its players. More important than doing everything you can to prevent these injuries - ultimately impossible in team sport - is to rehabilitate players based on objective data to ensure they do not re-injure themselves in their return to competition.
This is the most common reason for early retirement in professional sport - players constantly re-injuring themselves because they return before they are physically ready. The protective elements of the monitoring system is designed to alleviate this.
Having seen Catapult develop so quickly since 2008, Tom is eagerly awaiting implementation of the indoor GPS system and rates customer support as “very good – issues/
requests addressed quickly.”
Always eager to assist likeminded sports scientists around the world, Tom describes the Catapult system to those that are unfamiliar with the technology as an “easy to use athlete monitoring tool that provides valuable information on the physiological demands of specific sports, in training and competition, which in turn enhances physical preparation and ultimately performance.”