Star player Paolo Quinteros, 39, is the driving force of the team’s data-driven approach to developing detailed athlete profiles. Physical Coach Guillermo Stieg explains what Catapult provides to his team.
“(Catapult) shows very accurately the external load the athlete is subject to, especially in these intermittent event athletes. I provide this clarification because in cyclical events, controlling the external workload is much simpler than in acyclic events. Since these are decision-making events, the load may vary depending on what is happening.
“Catapult indicates quite accurately the external workload these types of athletes are exposed to. The external workload is the amount of actions and the intensity with which the athlete carries out that type of actions. Obviously, the greater the number of actions or the higher intensity in actions, the higher will the workload and the stress suffered by the athlete be.
“It changed the dynamics and the way of seeing training sessions. Since we started using Catapult, we have been able to propose load goals in our sessions. Being able to use live monitoring, which is one of the system features, and in accordance to the individual characteristics of the athletes, we can set workload goals for each of them and customise practices. The session starts and as each athlete meets his workload goals, the session ends.
“This is possible because the system enables us to have a parameter of how much an athlete can do. It also enabled us to have a sufficient amount of players, junior players from our club, to keep the training session going. Under this new criterion, some athletes finish their practice earlier, and then they have to be replaced by another player.
“It has become a very relevant tool. Athletes are exposed to very high workloads, either because of training sessions or competitions. For instance, we had a double competition, increasing the demand and making stress higher. Catapult provides objective data of that and enables us to handle the situation in the most coherent way possible.
“Regarding the development of capacities, it is still categorical. You can program the load, plan your session, and schedule your weekly or monthly progression. It provides a lot of possibilities we did not have before the appearance of the system in the league, and we just had to do using subjective parameter, whose error margin is higher.
“Catapult allows us to reproduce what an athlete does, the amount of actions at the intensity he competes at, and repeat it in our training sessions in order to adapt to that. Now we know what the workload during a game is, during a week or a month, in in accordance to that we can program practices that use similar circumstances for the athlete to adapt to that type of stress. If he does more, it’s wrong. If he does less, it’s wrong. When you do more, the stress is high and can result in an injury; if you do less, you’re not adapted and it can also result in an injury. The monitoring system allows us to lower the injury rate.
“Paolo Quinteros is a special case not only in the team, but also in the league. He’s 39 years old and the offensive leader of our team, with a way of playing that makes him work a lot. He plays many one-on-one actions, a lot of pick and roll, and he performs a high number of explosive actions. He was also one of the leaders in that field in the reports made by the Catapult staff.
“When we put together both variables, age and workload, the risk of having an injury increases. In fact, at the beginning of the season he had two injuries in a row and, thanks to Catapult, we were able to link them to the workloads and determine his risk zone, when he was approaching his risk zone. We used that to decide whether to make him play, or whether to play less minutes if there was a game the following day.”