Communication is central to the success of any organisation. In the fast-paced and competitive world of sport, where the margins between success and failure can be minute, the quality of a team’s communication can make a significant impact on performance. Without strong lines of communication, teams can struggle to effectively convey the instructions, strategies, and expectations that underpin on-field success.
The more information athletes can glean from coaches, the more likely they are to absorb. Of course, communication of this nature is not a one-way street. For coaches, receiving feedback from athletes is equally important if they are to adapt their methods to suit the needs of the team and build effective training schedules and tactical plans.
Athlete monitoring and video analysis technologies can play a key role in this process. Giving coaches the ability to tailor messages to specific athletes, improve the presentation of performance insights, and generate greater athlete buy-in, technology is an invaluable communications tool for modern teams.
Coaches and athletes across different sports can have very different ways of communicating. However, whatever their method of delivery, the end goal is always the same: to help athletes develop through learning and retaining information that can have a material effect on their performance.
The Little Rock Trojans, an NCAA Division I program, are constantly looking for ways to improve the athlete experience through technology. One of the program’s priorities is to engage athletes with performance insights by presenting them in a series of innovative ways. Director of Basketball, Logan Dahms, believes that the Catapult Vision video analysis platform has helped him to achieve this.
“Vision’s telestration tools give our players a new way to interact with film – a way that they’re familiar with,” says Dahms. “The graphics give our staff the ability to be even more precise with their communication and help engage our players more intimately with the learning process.
For Dahms, technology also benefits the students’ understanding of their own performances. “Using the app we were able to push customised teaching tape to our players, giving them a new way to learn while away from the gym and making them feel more personally invested.”
Communication has no boundaries
The Colorado School of Mines is “strictly science and technology-based, so our students are for the most part very analytical,” says Men’s Soccer Head Coach, Greg Mulholland. Analysis, technical understanding, and problem-solving are a natural fit with their students since Mines is a university that offers courses that prepare graduates for careers in science and engineering.
Greg implemented wearable technology with the program because he saw it as a means to demonstrate to the athletes how data is used to inform the decisions made by coaching staff. As Greg explains, “I wanted a way to show them the data that drives my decisions.”
One of the major benefits of bringing technology to coach-athlete communications is the ability to review performance information anytime, anywhere. With many performance and athlete management tools able to be used on mobile and tablet, data can be collected, analysed, and shared wherever and whenever it is convenient.
For Mines, on a 373-acre campus and with athletes who have academic commitments outside of sport, this flexibility is essential. As Greg says, “We can use the technology anywhere, anytime, and retrieve the data with our players very easily.”
Developing player understanding
In elite sport, it’s natural that coaches are demanding of their players. Expectations are often set high in the hope that players will positively respond to the challenge with improved performance. However, if those expectations aren’t communicated effectively there can be a lack of understanding among players as to why they have been asked to play or train a certain way.
This phenomenon has previously been experienced – and later overcome – by Indian Premier League franchise the Rajasthan Royals. Before adopting Catapult’s wearable technology, the players didn’t necessarily understand the demands being placed on them by the coaches. However, once their performance could be quantified, and insights presented back to them, it became easier to communicate the purpose of each session.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for a player to understand why we do the running sets that we do, or the high speed sets that we do,” says John Gloster, Head Physio at the Royals. “However, once we had data, it was easier to get them to buy-in to the whole concept and the relevance of that type of training for this type of sport.”
The Royals have developed a more data-driven approach to performance in recent seasons, with coaches working closely with Gloster and the analytics team. This communication has fostered strong relationships and helped the players to better engage in training as they have an appreciation for why they are being asked to train the way they are.
“We feel that Catapult allows us to have a better relationship with the players,” says Gloster. “It’s been a really interesting communication tool for us in terms of communicating why we do what we do, especially off the field, and why we train the way we train.”
As is evident, communications are an essential part of sport and a topic we regularly see discussed among Catapult clients. As such, we’re fascinated to see how data-driven technologies can continue to help to improve the communication of performance insights among teams and across organisations in the years to come.