Communication, Application and Development: Quantifying demands and nurturing elite tennis talent with Catapult

Miomir ‘Miša’ Kecmanović is currently ranked inside the world’s top 60 on the men’s ATP Tour. A participant in the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, the 20-year-old Serbian is tipped for a bright future at the highest levels of tennis.

As Miša’s game continues to develop, his coaching team use Catapult’s Vector S7 system to help quantify the demands of elite tennis and structure training plans accordingly.

We recently caught up with Dejan Vojnović, Miša’s fitness coach and a former Croatian Olympian, to find out why he decided to use the technology and how he’s using Vector to support the work he’s doing with the player.

Understanding the technology

“As a fitness coach, I’m constantly researching to stay on top of all the latest technology that can support me in monitoring training, designing training, and helping Miša get ready for competition,” Dejan explains. “I’d initially been reluctant to use monitoring technology because coaches move around a lot in tennis and it can be a real challenge to build up a database over a number of years with the same player.”

However, Dejan’s view of monitoring technology changed when he talked to practitioners across various different sports and also saw other tennis coaches begin to implement tracking systems.

“I’d been talking to coaches in football for a few years and heard them talk about the benefits of using Catapult’s technology in their sport,” says Dejan. “Then I spoke to Matt Little (Andy Murray’s fitness coach) and he told me how he was using the system in training with Andy.”

For Dejan, the fact that Catapult was being used by fellow practitioners in tennis was an important factor in his decision to use the system. By drawing on the knowledge and experience of those around him, as well as the support of Catapult staff, Dejan has quickly developed a strong understanding of the power of the technology.

“Catapult was the main GPS brand I’d heard of, and the fact that it was already being used in elite tennis made it an easy choice for me,” says Dejan. “I figured that if Matt was using the technology then he could help me understand how I can achieve what I want to achieve with the system.”

Measuring success

Although he is still in the early stages of using the Vector system, Dejan has already established which metrics are most useful for him and the rest of Miša’s coaching team.

“The main measures I’m looking at for Miša are PlayerLoad, total distance run, accelerations and decelerations,” Dejan says. “During the Next Gen ATP Finals I’ve been working with Catapult to extract peak accelerations and decelerations from matches. This can help to monitor fitness and improve the specificity of the agility work I do with Miša.”

The data Dejan receives is also useful for reaching an objective understanding of the physical demands of competitive tennis and what it might take for Miša to take his game to the next level.

“We know that to climb the rankings and make it as an elite player, you need to achieve certain physical benchmarks. Using Catapult makes it easier to establish what those benchmarks are, and what type of work will be required to develop any areas that may need improvement.”

Communication + Application

Of course, collecting data and benchmarking performance are important, but the information is only powerful if it is communicated and applied in the appropriate ways.

“The Catapult data is a useful tool for communicating among the coaching team,” Dejan says. “For example, Miša’s coach is interested in total PlayerLoad and understanding the volume and intensity of training.

“For me, it’s important to know how much we are loading the player and also to be able to show the rest of the coaching team what we’ve done in training during a given week.”

When it comes to engaging Miša with his performance data, Dejan avoids information overload during tournaments. Instead, he believes the data can have its most significant impact during training blocks. 

“Right now we’re in a competition phase, so I don’t want to burden Miša with too much information,” explains Dejan. “However, I plan to use the technology more extensively with him when we’re back in training. One of the main ways I plan to use the system with Miša is to improve his reference points for physical intensity during agility training.

“For example, if I ask him to sprint at 90%, it can be difficult for him to know exactly what that feels like. By quantifying different intensities, we can get better feedback on the work he’s doing and he can develop a better knowledge of his body and the benefits of his training schedules.”

As Dejan informs his coaching with the Vector system, we look forward to following Miša’s progress over the coming years as he continues to make an impact at the highest levels of tennis.  

Image: Getty

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