Catapult User Stories: Tom Myslinski, Jacksonville Jaguars
Tom Myslinski of the Jacksonville Jaguars first started using athlete tracking systems in 2007 while working with the Cleveland Browns. As the longest-serving Catapult user in the NFL, Tom also previously used the technology at the University of North Carolina to monitor player loads.
“All [S&C Coaches] are is stress regulators, so [athlete monitoring] was a way we could put objective numbers instead of making assumptions on whether it was a hard or a medium or a light day. So when we talked to our coaches we had more knowledgeable information, rather than just the athlete saying it was perceptually a hard practice or perceptually an easy practice. We could actually back that up with numbers."
Using the system predominantly for medical monitoring, Tom says, “We really can look at the cost of each individual period. If an athlete is hurt we can use his return-to-play work to actually recreate practices or periods for our athletes to see how ready they are to play.”
Knowing the difficulties in introducing new technology, Tom has a challenge preaching the potential of Catapult.
“It’s an introduction process because the football staff we have now haven’t used it before, so it’s up to us to reintroduce it to our coaches – and to show them what kind of objective numbers that we get and how it can help the coaching process.
“We look at total odometer, high intensity yards, accelerations, decelerations, contact load, and PlayerLoad. We look at all those variables. As an athlete becomes fatigued, obviously he’s going to expose himself to slowing down over the course of the season, or he’s going to become injured. The more that you can teach him about how fit they have to be to play this game, I think it’s going to be very important.
“I always knew this, but the lack of any true speed in our game just shows our game is truly acceleration and deceleration, which I think is a big point. Our practices can be two hours outside and there’s a lot of volume that’s covered. You realize how much time our athletes are on their feet. When you look at their number of high intensity, medium intensity, their overall volume, it’s important to quantify."
As an ex-NFL player himself, Tom understands the importance of getting the athletes themselves on board too.
“It’s educating the athlete. As a retired athlete myself, the more that I knew about my body, the more informed I was, the more self-aware I was, the better I could take care of myself. To me it’s an educational process”.
And how has the process influenced Tom’s role and eased his workload?
“Definitely easier and harder to the point, because it’s challenged me to become a little more creative in the design of training. We like to say that we’re all constant learners and that’s very important, and that’s what Catapult has helped me do; to find new, creative ways to get training done.
“The big thing is to economize. They’ve taught me how to be more efficient in my training, which I think is very important. Secondly, it’s given me a better overall view of the athlete, a training snapshot, so I can see what the training load is for the athlete, enabling me to zero in a little more. And the third one, to be honest with you, is that it’s made me a better strength coach. It’s taught me more, and the more that I know, the more I can give back to my athletes.”