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Simon Kearney

Sports Science Manager


Meeting Simon Kearney, Sport Science Manager for the 2012 NRL premiership-winning Melbourne Storm and newest addition to the St. Kilda Football Club staff, is a lesson on how to use Catapult technology.

Knowing the expectations of having to bring in the latest sporting innovations to prescribe workloads for players with different sporting histories, Kearney used the Catapult system 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 worth 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, then the rest of the guys would be wearing them doing drills, 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 client, 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 action and characteristic of an athlete’s movement, and the staff’s ability to choose their own parameters, mean the data provided by the Catapult system can be customised to address subjective concerns in every sport.

“We 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 the OptimEye units to provide valuable information for analysis and review of training and game performance.

“It’ll be fantastic. The object of 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”.

As well as showing player work rates with and without the ball, and valuable pass chains to tell the story behind each possession, SmartBall will have huge ramifications for the tactical side of Australian Rules football - an area which is increasingly growing in importance.

With the huge field posing challenges for video-based technologies, wearable technology for everyone on the field allows you to view 2D bird’s-eye animations of team structures to determine what worked effectively and where goals are coming from.

Simon Kearney studied sport science at the University of Ballarat and has since worked with the Melton Football Club, the Melbourne Tigers NBL team, Tennis Australia (where he trained Alicia Molik for three years), and the Collingwood Football Club before moving to the Storm in 2010.