The National Football League has been innovating more and more in the past decade with technology. From expanded instant replay to automatic player trackers for TV broadcasts, one team is looking at technology in a different way; player care.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were the first team in the NFL to partner with Catapult Sports, a technology company that manufactures wearable GPS trackers to monitor an athlete’s position and speed during games and practices. Over the last four years, the Jags have worked with Catapult to better understand their hardware and determine how to best take advantage of the innovative product.
Strength and conditioning coach Tom Myslinki has been with the Jacksonville Jaguars for four years, the same amount of time the team has been collaborating with Catapult. He said that the GPS system had two important functions, to determine baseline testing and an athlete’s care, and also to, “…give objective information to coaches to quantify how much practice is worth.”
“Catapult allows coaches to look at the needs-analysis of an athlete and help them rehabilitate from an injury and in return to play protocols,” Myslinki said. So by using the location-tracking services that Catpult’s satellite system has to offer, they can determine in real time when an athlete’s back to full speed better than with other tools.
Why is this important? If an athlete has a sprained ligament in their knee or leg, they can cause more damage to their body by pushing themselves too hard before they’re at 100 percent.
“Just like how a coach can self-scout their offense and defense, we can self-scout our players and see how their bodies hold up to stress and fatigue with Catapult.”
According to Myslinki (who played nine years in the NFL as a guard) player safety and care is their biggest commitment.
“Catapult lets the athlete know that we’re taking care of them, and that when we’re tracking them, we have their best interest in mind,” Myslinki said. “The Jacksonville Jaguars want to be a player first organization.”
He also said that the Jaguars don’t look at the analytics recorded by Catapult when scouting players, because “not every play gives an athlete the opportunity to showcase their full athleticism.”
Myslinki said that the Catapult system also allows coaches to, “quantify the value of practice,” by seeing how the players hold up after an intense workout and then able track their improvement in their conditioning throughout their workout as they get fatigued.