Meeting Simon Kearney, head of Sport Science for the 2012 NRL premiership-winning Melbourne Storm, is a lesson on how to use Catapult’s technology.

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

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

“I think it’ll be fantastic. I mean, the object of almost 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.”

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

Catapult congratulates Simon on his success with the Storm’s 2012 NRL Premiership, and wishes him well with St Kilda.


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