UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
Sports Science Coordinator
Having been plucked from the Brisbane Lions in the Australian Football League in 2012 to join the innovation-leading University of Oregon, James Hanisch is no stranger to developments in sport.
Working with the powerhouse Ducks football team, Hanisch’s role as Sports Science Coordinator means his role is largely based on analyzing and implementing data provided by the Catapult system.
“Catapult is being used in two key ways,” Hanisch said. “The first is through loading of athletes and the intensity at which they train. The second is through rehabilitation and returning athletes back to full training quickly by exposing the rehabilitation athletes to the main squads’ training loads and intensities. This allows the medical and strength staff to know that when they go back into full training they are resilient and less likely to re-injure”.
At the moment, Catapult technology is used primarily with the prestigious football program, but Hanisch doesn’t think it will be long before men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and lacrosse start utilizing the athlete analytics.
Hanisch believes Catapult is “crucial to a healthy team”.“With football being such a position-specific sport, your best athletes need to be out at practice and games. “Having a monitoring system and communicating overloading and overtraining is vitally important to keeping the best athletes on the track and gives the team a better opportunity to win. That’s where it helps in minimising injury and having your strongest team available to win more games”.
With the small OptimEye units placed unobtrusively within a player’s pads, and relaying real-time objective data on player movement and work rate, Hanisch believes the most valuable aspect of the Catapult system to be the software. “Definitely the software - easy to use and easy to understand. I find the best way to decide whether a program or software is easy to use is to explain it to people and I have never had any issues with Sprint.
“The second is customer service. Catapult from the start have had excellent customer service and have always replied quickly to any queries that I have had. “The last is the reliability of the units themselves and the company’s continued growth and technology improvements. “There is enough research out there now to show that Catapult are definitely the leading company in this area and that is attributed to all these key aspects”.
The software, customer service and reliability of the hardware are key aspects of the Catapult system, but it is the applications it has for rehabilitation in football that demonstrates why athlete analytics are growing so quickly in college football.
“Rehabilitation is one of the most important aspects of training analysis. You need to know three things: What is the main squad training load and intensity? How can we mimic this in rehabilitation training? And what is the athletes’ progression through the rehab process? “These three things are very important. Knowing exactly what the loading and intensity of the main squad allows sport scientists to put in place benchmarks for rehabilitation training. Then when the benchmarks are in place you can then plan each session and adjust the intensity and loading based on the calculated benchmark.
“At the end of their rehabilitation you can test the athlete with the same benchmark to make sure they can now re-enter into full training. “The main benefit from this is that all medical, strength and head coaches know that the individual athlete is at 100% going into full training”.
With Oregon winters moving the Ducks inside for much of the season, Hanisch is also eagerly awaiting the new indoor GPS system by Catapult. “This is going to be the biggest benefit to football in particular. Football teams train indoors frequently and without outdoor data to go from it can be harder to understand the data. “Having the indoor system will enable sport scientists to take analysis to the next level. That means that anywhere the athletes are we can monitor what their training is like and how to improve performance and minimize injury. Other indoor sports will also benefit; basketball, even volleyball could use the technology.