Orange Power: Athlete Performance at Oklahoma State - Technology

Football players today are not playing the same game as previous generations. From changing protocol in dealing with concussions to rule changes geared toward player safety, attention to the well-being of players has never been greater.

Such is the case at Oklahoma State, but with added high-tech features used by Rob Glass and the Athlete Performance team that assist in the area of player safety and also in maximizing players' level of performance.
Glass and his team utilize small GPS devices from a company called Catapult that are placed in players' shirts or shoulder pads. Those devices generate data showing exactly what kind of toll is being put on the players' bodies during the course of a workout – things like acceleration rates, deceleration rates, maximum velocity, overall distance traveled during the course of a workout and a number of other reports.
Why does that matter?
"Sometimes we may find someone's not performing as well this Saturday as they may have on previous Saturdays," Glass said. "We can go back and look at the data to maybe isolate a reason for that during the week. Maybe he got too much volume during practice, too much work load during the week and (wasn't) able to recover properly before Saturday."
After a workout, the GPS devices are collected by Anthony Hibbert - a member of OSU's Athlete Performance team. He generates reports on each player for Glass, who then reviews those reports in search of information that can help him identify areas that require attention. Glass shares that information with Mike Gundy, who then uses it as part of his decision-making process for how he structures ensuing practice sessions.
"We are able to take that information that we get from the GPS system and the Catapult system and translate that and take it to the coaches prior to the next day to let them know if someone's training volume has been a little too high for one or two days consecutively and maybe we need to unload them a little bit prior to the competition on Saturday," Glass said.
Put simply, this is Oklahoma State using an innovative, high-tech way to take better care of its players.
If a player is going too hard in workouts, Glass and the coaches will know and will be able to take preventative measures to ensure their health and well-being. If a player isn't going hard enough in workouts, the GPS data will reveal that as well and provide Glass and the coaches with quantifiable data to show the players and help them push through whatever obstacle may be slowing them down.
"Staying on the cutting edge is something that has risen and the GPS tracking system of the athlete and understanding the stresses and demands their body is going through - whether it's a training session or at practice or even during a game - with the GPS tracking system we're able to monitor each athlete individually," Glass said.

In addition to using a high-tech product like the GPS devices, Oklahoma State also utilizes impressive technology to help its players in other areas as well. One of those areas is vision.
"We've learned that sometimes, players may have the physical measurables - whether it be speed, power or explosiveness - but for some reason there's still a link missing," Glass said. "Maybe when they're in play, in competition, for some reason they are not responding quickly. Maybe there's a processing link that's not processing as quick and we want to identify if it is a vision problem,
"We've got some software we use that was designed for fighter pilots that came out of the Air Force Academy," Glass said. "We are able to do vision training with our guys."
Glass said the software puts a matrix up on a big screen. There are some numbers within the matrix and Oklahoma State players have to find them. Glass and his team control the amount of time the numbers are on the screen and which numbers are in are the pattern. While many Cowboys have gone through vision training with Glass, he said one stood out from the pack.
"Dez Bryant still has the best score of all. He was able to pick out six numbers in two-tenths of a second," Glass said. "Sometimes when people wonder why some athletes are better than others, there's things that come into play that maybe they just don't realize. You think somebody is bigger and stronger, but maybe it's that his vision is a little bit better and he has the ability to process a little bit better. So there are a lot of areas that we are trying to address to build the most complete and impressive athlete we can."