An interview with Andrew Weller, Physical Performance Manager for Cricket Australia
As cricket continues to grow and diversify across multiple formats, athlete monitoring systems are becoming increasingly important for the sport's elite teams.
We recently spoke with Andrew Weller, Physical Performance Manager for Cricket Australia, to find out how the organisation are using Catapult technology to inform key performance processes.
When and where did you first find out about Catapult?
I was working in the AFL with St Kilda Football Club, and I started in the years when clubs were first starting to buy it – I think Hawthorn were the first to use it. And then I ended up at the Gold Coast Suns and we used it as one of our training monitoring tools.
What is the most important metric that you use?
In cricket, there are a couple of metrics that are important to us. High-speed running we use a lot both in our training and match analysis because of the relationship it has with soft tissue injury, and also the bowling algorithm is something we look at to measure intensity of bowling and has been a way that we can change the way players look at their training by getting a measure of intensity. Previously in cricket, all bowls were counted as equal, and through the use of GPS technology we now know that’s not true.
I think the biggest area where we’ve reduced injury rates is by the introduction of giving dosage of high-speed running. The other area is just looking at what their load has been over the previous 28-35 days compared with what they’ve done the last seven days, so their acute-to-chronic ratio is an important metric that we look at across a number of parameters, from total distance, to exposure to the different speed zones.
How do you use Catapult to ensure athletes are ready for competition?
Preparedness for competition in cricket is an interesting one because we have three different formats. We’ve got multi-day, which goes over four or five days and athletes can cover up to 60km over those four days if they’re a fast bowler, down to T20 cricket, which is finished in three hours and players cover 6km.
The measure that’s probably variable between them is probably the exposure to intensity of high-speed running. So when looking at what particular format they’re going into, you need to ensure that number one, they’ve got some volume if they’re going into longer formats, but if they’re going into shorter versions of cricket that they’ve had exposure to high-speed running.
What has your experience been using Catapult to return an athlete to play following injury?
Return from injuries has been an area where GPS technology has been a huge advantage to us. Having a good understanding of the match demands in terms of the distance parameters that players cover in terms and their exposure to the different high-speed bands. We want to make sure the players have had exposure to the demands that are going to be met in each of those formats.
Why did you choose Catapult?
We chose Catapult because they were an established company. The other reason we chose them was really the customer service. In cricket, we didn’t have a lot of sports scientists that worked in the sport and had experience with GPS technology, so we had to up-skill our staff and after looking at the market we decided that Catapult was the company that were going to be able to provide us the best service of up-skilling staff.
What don't you like about Catapult?
There’s nothing really that I don’t like. I think one of the challenges when you partner with a technology company is being able to be continually involved, and have honest and open discussions about the sport you’re in and where you want to go, and the service that you need to be delivered. At this point in time, we’ve had a partnership with Catapult for six years and I haven’t seen any reasons to change that at this point in time.
How does the technology improve your job?
Technology helps me in my job by helping me look at a lot of people. I’ve got athletes that live in a whole lot of different states, travelling all over the world. By being able to get your data into a centralised database, you’re able to get an understanding of the loads and stresses that are placed on your athletes.
What cricket-specific analysis does the technology provide you with that couldn't previously be quantified?
The reason we went to GPS technology was to get an understanding of how far players run, how far they walk, how far they sprint, and the different formats. Interestingly, what we ended up getting the most value from was getting an understanding of the intensity of bowling through the bowling algorithm. And that’s been really useful in educating our coaches to understand that each bowl is different.
What other technologies do you use alongside Catapult in your performance management?
The other technology we use is our athlete management system, which records all their wellness and activity, and Catapult feeds into that. We also use technology in the 3D analysis of bowling up at the National Cricket Centre, which is important for our bowlers as they go through that once a year. And we use little bits and pieces from some of our performance testing, so we use force platforms for strength measurement and the like.